Colditz (TV series)

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This article is about the 1970s BBC television series. For the unrelated 2005 ITV tele-film, see Colditz (film). For other uses, see Colditz (disambiguation).
Colditz
Colditz.jpg
Colditz's title card
Created by Brian Degas
Gerard Glaister
Starring Jack Hedley
Robert Wagner
David McCallum
Bernard Hepton
Edward Hardwicke
Anthony Valentine
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 28
Production
Running time 1 Hour
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Original run 19 October 1972 (1972-10-19) – 1 April 1974 (1974-04-01)

Colditz is a British television series co-produced by the BBC and Universal Studios and screened between 1972 and 1974.[1]

The series deals with Allied prisoners of war imprisoned at the supposedly escape-proof Colditz Castle when designated Oflag IV-C during World War II, and their many attempts to escape captivity, as well as the relationships formed between the various nationalities and their German captors.

Colditz was created by Brian Degas working with the producer Gerard Glaister, who went on to devise another successful BBC series dealing with the Second World War — Secret Army. Technical consultant for the series was Major Pat Reid, the real British Escape Officer at Colditz. One of the locations used in filming was Stirling Castle.

Characters[edit]

American[edit]

  • Flight Lieutenant Phil Carrington (Robert Wagner) – Flight Lieutenant Carrington is an American officer who volunteered to serve with the British early in the war. As per the real life Micky Burn, he served as a journalist in Berlin before the war and has an intimate knowledge of Germany and German politics, admits to having had some admiration for National Socialism. Carrington appears to be sensible at first, but he is a maverick, which gets him in trouble with the Germans and the British alike.[2] Carrington becomes involved in an escape attempt with Pat Grant, the character based on real life escapee Pat Reid. In reality the officer who escaped with Reid via Hans Larive's Singen route was Canadian Howard Wardle.
  • Lieutenant Jim Phipps (Garrick Hagon) – US POW who becomes the central element of an episode when the Germans categorise him as 'Prominente' on the basis of being the son of a US Ambassador. In reality Lieutenant John Winant Jr., was the son of John Gilbert Winant, US ambassador to Britain.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Max Dodd (Dan O'Herlihy) – Old-school and brash, Colonel Dodd arrives with Major Carrington on his second trip to Colditz, and rapidly becomes the Senior American Officer of that growing contingent. He does not take well to being a prisoner, and often clashes with the Kommandant. Unlike his counterpart Colonel Preston, he is more than willing to take substantial risks with his men in order to accomplish his objectives. In reality the Colonel among the three paratroopers captured in Hungary and sent to Colditz was Colonel Florimund Duke — the oldest American paratrooper of the war.
  • Captain Harry Nugent (Al Mancini) – arrives with Dodd and the return of Carrington

British[edit]

  • Lieutenant Colonel John Preston (Jack Hedley) - Senior British Officer, Colonel Preston is the very embodiment of British stiff upper lip. He is mostly emotionless, highly intelligent (i.e. able to get his way with the Germans and remain the voice of reason in his own contingent), and normally rigid in his application of principles. He gets along quite well with the accommodating Kommandant, whom he respects but is adept at manipulating.[2] His only real sources of passion are recollections of his time in the trenches in WWI and his wife, whom he married late and had to leave behind to go to war.
  • Captain Pat Grant (Edward Hardwicke) - Captain Grant is the first British escape officer in Colditz. He is mild-mannered and mostly level-headed. He often serves as an arbiter between his fellow officers' passion and enthusiasm and Colonel Preston's cold reserve. The fictional Grant resembles Pat Reid, former POW who was the technical advisor for the series.[2]
  • Flight Lieutenant Simon Carter (David McCallum) - Flight Lieutenant Carter is a young, upstart, hot-headed RAF officer who enjoys goon-baiting and is very impatient to escape.[2] He misses his young wife, Cathy, very much, and seeks to return to her. He finds himself frequently in solitary confinement. In the second season, he mellows a bit as he accepts the post of escape officer, and is tempered by that responsibility. The fictional Carter closely resembles the real Colditz inmate Flight Lieutenant Dominic Bruce OBE MC AFM KSG MA RAF, the legendary 'Medium Sized Man' from IX Squadron, who was sent to Colditz after escaping from Castle Spangenberg. Bruce was the author of one of the most celebrated of all escapes from Colditz, the so-called 'Tea Chest' escape, a replica of which was featured in the Imperial War Museum's 'Great Escapes' exhibition.
  • Captain Tim Downing (Richard Heffer) - Captain Downing is generally the devil's advocate of the group.[2] While he seems to be the most pessimistic of the British contingent, his criticisms are often insightful and valid. He is ambitious, views himself as the second-in-command, and seeks the post of escape officer. He is often at odds with Colonel Preston, whom he challenges quite frequently. He rarely participates in escape attempts himself, but provides reliable support for escapees. Downing is portrayed with a handlebar moustache.
  • Captain George Brent (Paul Chapman) - Captain Brent is the most nervous and least confident of the officers, but is capable of having brilliant ideas. He is unfortunately known for the number of times he has bungled escapes or ruined others' chances at escape. He has insomnia, and often worries about the future, generally having a pessimistic outlook on his captivity. However, he has occasionally been extraordinarily brave, such as in the episode "Ghosts" where he remained holed up in dreadful conditions, voluntarily, for several weeks. He is usually portrayed wearing a cricket sweater like the real life[2] Rupert Barry[3]
  • Lieutenant Dick Player (Christopher Neame) - Lieutenant Player is a quiet but determined officer from the Royal Navy. His perfect German and history of living in Germany cause the Germans to suspect he is a spy at first, which causes him a great deal of trouble. Once in Colditz, though, he is a keen and cool escaper, and participates in some of the most daring and fantastic escape attempts of the series.
  • Pilot Officer Peter Muir (Peter Penry-Jones) - P.O. Muir is a rash officer who has a reputation for not looking before he leaps. Nevertheless, he is a keen member of the escape team. He formed part of Pat Grant's escape team, but was wounded by a gunshot when he and Player were recaptured.[2]
  • Padre (Patrick Troughton) - The Padre is a mild-mannered officer who, in his own words, does "not exactly summon a multitude" with his tedious sermons. His cloth unfortunately often conflicts with his duty to the war effort, and so Colonel Preston generally keeps him out of any escape plans.
  • Doc (Geoffrey Palmer) - The Doc is featured in three episodes, most prominently in Tweedledum. He is frustrated by the lack of medicines, and views the German village doctor as a quack.
  • Wing Commander George Marsh (Michael Bryant) - A medical orderly and assistant to the British Medical Officer, Marsh is the officer who famously feigned insanity to achieve repatriation.
  • Lieutenant Page (Ian McCulloch) - Lieutenant Page is an antisocial and violent late addition to the British contingent, who appears to have little knowledge of the air force, despite claiming to be an air force officer. Page is not his real name but the identity of the Lysander pilot who was killed while inserting him into France. This character is a British Secret agent on his thirteenth mission and is known to, and being hunted by, the Gestapo. Suffering from Post Traumatic stress syndrome he sees his identity change as a chance to escape the war and hide out in Colditz, the last place the Gestapo would look for him. In reality a Special Operations Executive operative was sent to Colditz in the latter part of Oflag IV-C, Special Air Service founder David Stirling.
  • Lance Corporal Baker (Alec Wallis) - Colonel Preston's personal NCO who has immense respect for his superior.
  • Lieutenant Michael Brown (Sean Roantree) -
  • Captain Walters (Nicholas McArdle) -
  • Corporal Hopkins (Len Lowe) -
  • Squadron Ldr. Tony Shaw (Jeremy Kemp) - An academic lecturer before the war, he becomes obsessed with his idea of an escape using a POW built glider. The real Colditz glider was devised and built by RAF pilot, Bill Goldfinch with Jack Best his partner in the construction.
  • Major Trumpington (Willie Rushton) - A Scottish Commando, captured with two companions during a raid on Boulogne. The German SD intend to implement Hitler's order that all Commandos are to be shot. Despite the best efforts of the SBO, the British escape committee and the Camp Kommandant, Major Trumpington and his two fellow commandos are taken away by the SD for execution but are shot while trying to escape. This episode mirrors the fate of the 'Musketoon' raid commandos who were briefly imprisoned in the solitary confinement cells at Colditz before being shot at Sachsenhausen. Flt Lt Bruce's conversation with the commando leader Capt Black is retold in "Operation Musketoon" by Stephen Schofield.
  • Flight Lieutenant Jack Collins (Ray Barrett) - A late and disruptive arrival who introduces a card school into the British quarters. Captain George Brent joins the school and eventually loses very heavily. Owing £1000, Brent loses his house in a game of 'double or quit'. Collins attempts escape by playing cards with a German quartermaster, cheating to make the German lose heavily before bribing him for a workers identity disc. The escape attempt is foiled and Collins is moved out of Colditz but not before the Kommandant retrieves and returns all Brent's losses to the SBO.
  • Cathy Carter (Joanna David) - While not an internee, Carter's wife plays a decent-sized role in the series. Reluctant to let her new husband leave in the second episode, she is devastated to learn he has been shot down and worries that he has not survived. When she learns he is at a POW camp, she keeps in touch with him through letters. Good at crosswords and quick on the uptake, Cathy becomes embroiled in a scheme to connect escaping prisoners with the European underground.

French[edit]

  • Capitaine André Vaillant (Gerard Paquis) – Capitaine Vaillant is a stereotypical riviera Frenchman who is self-serving, self-righteous, dashing, and a shameless womaniser.
  • Capitaine Henri Lefevre (Henry Szeps) -
  • Capitaine Duprez (Guido Adorni) -
  • Lieutenant Maurice Tailière (Boyd Mackenzie) -

German[edit]

  • Kommandant (Bernard Hepton) - The Kommandant, known only by his forename Karl, is a moderate and honourable Oberst (Colonel) of the Wehrmacht. He holds to the old Army ways of respecting enemy officers, and adheres to the Geneva Convention to the best of his ability. He has difficulty believing that any authority but the OKW is legitimate, and often finds himself in dilemmas over orders he gets from the Waffen-SS or Reich Security. Fortunately, he has an ally in General Schaetzel, a respected figure in the OKW. With the help of Schaetzel, and Colonel Preston's cooperation, he constantly works to prevent the SS from taking control of the camp. He finds it boring in the camp and can't stand incompetence. When important visitors come round he is usually embarrassed by one prisoner or another. He is aware the British Officers get very restless and hot-headed, but he relies on Colonel Preston to keep them in check. When they do try something he tries to have a shout at Preston, only to find that Preston is made of stern stuff, hardly flinching when he is shouted at and always keeping a straight face; this annoys the Kommandant even more, but he knows there is nothing he can do. He has a young son, Erich, in the Luftwaffe and a wife named Lise. He worries about Erich, he himself has seen war and fears for his son's safety and that he won't become blood thirsty. He just wishes that everything will run smoothly so that he can get on with his life, and that his son will return home.[2]
  • Hauptmann Franz Ulmann (Hans Meyer) - Hauptmann Ulmann is the Security Officer at Colditz. A calculating and rather robotic individual most of the time, he takes his job of preventing escapes seriously and is sometimes ill at ease with the Kommandant's lax attitude. He took over early from Oberleutnant Lehr, a young and easygoing officer who was drafted to the front lines, and was appalled at the lack of discipline among the security forces. Because of his careful planning and sharp eyes and mind, he is able to avert many escape attempts as well as many attempts of the SS to take over the camp. He seems to have been sent by the OKW specifically to help the Kommandant in these matters. While occasionally he comes up with a brilliant scheme, most of his captures are a result of thoroughness. He develops a warm relationship with Carrington over the course of the series. He believes there is no such thing as an escape-proof prison, but he plans to make security such that the prisoners will struggle anyway. Like the Kommandant, he is a Wehrmacht man who has no love of the SS.[2] Ulmann is largely based on real life Reinhold Eggers who later wrote a book presenting the German side of the story. Eggers' book contains a foreword by a former Dutch POW who commented, "This man was our opponent, but nevertheless he earned our respect by his correct attitude, self-control and total lack of rancour despite all the harassment we gave him."[4]
  • Major Horst Mohn (Anthony Valentine) - Mohn is an entirely fictional character, who joins at the start of the second series. A paratrooper hero with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (though the medal shown in the series is the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords), Major Mohn was severely wounded at Stalingrad by a Russian bayonet, and served on Hitler's personal staff before coming to Colditz. He is a Nazi Party member in good standing, and very highly connected (although the series does not mention to whom). He constantly finds himself in conflict with the Kommandant, for he holds the philosophy that the war is still going on at Colditz and is frustrated by what he perceives as the treating of prisoners with "kid gloves". The prisoners loathe him, and do whatever they can to foil him or antagonise him at every turn. Unfortunately for them, he is ruthlessly intelligent and occasionally pulls off a devastating capture. Major Mohn is a paratroop officer and his relationship with the SS appears to be fairly chilly. He is visibly upset with the SD orders given at the end of the episode "The Guests" and seems nervous around the Obergruppenführer and Hauptsturmführer in "Very Important Person." It appears that the reason why Major Mohn would prefer to take SS orders unquestioningly than risk SS reprisals is that he appreciates, apparently better than the Kommandant, what the SS is capable of. In contrast to the honourable Kommandant and Ulmann, Mohn is a sinister and villainous character.[2]
  • Lieutenant Anton Lehr (Grahame Mallard) - Lieutenant Lehr is the first Security Officer of Colditz, but in the fourth episode is posted to the front. He is easygoing and cheerful most of the time, although he gets the job done with apparent competence. He is not upset at the posting, and looks forward to fighting for his country. In reality Paul Priem was the first Security Officer. Pat Reid described Priem as, "the only German with a sense of humour".
  • Graf Paul Von Eissinger (John Quentin) - Graf Eissinger is a contact of Player's father, who was a diplomat in Germany before the war. He is apparently wealthy and well-connected. He broke his back years ago when his horse fell on him. He had it shot dead. He regretted this later, because due to his broken back (which would not mend) he did not have to go to war. Although he is willing to help identify Player, he has the ulterior motive of using Player in a conspiracy to overthrow Hitler. Player turns this down and sends Player to the PoW camp.
  • Dr. Starb (Kenneth Griffith) - A very stuffy Major who serves briefly on the camp medical staff. He is irritated at the relaxed discipline of the British, and decides to enforce saluting. He is a small, short-tempered man who likes to feel superior. He finds many things irritating and the smallest thing can make him angry. He feels that the prisoners and staff at Colditz are lazy and thick. When he gets Carter court-martialled for failing to salute, the Kommandant has him removed for fear of prisoner reprisals. Dr. Starb was apparently based on a real doctor who served in Colditz and had a prisoner court-martialled for failing to salute.
  • Gerda (Sarah Craze) - Gerda is the young German organist at the Colditz town church. She falls for the dashing Capitaine Vaillant and helps him to escape, feeling for him as she does for her brother who is a POW in Russia.
  • Erich (Martin Howells) - Erich, the son of the Kommandant, is a Luftwaffe officer in his early twenties. He is anxious to fly for the Luftwaffe, despite the deep concern of his father and mother. Much of the angst of the series centres on the Kommandant's worry that he will not return home.
  • Brauner (Peter Barkworth) - A chief plain-clothes Gestapo officer of unknown rank, Brauner is the stereotype of the sinister police organisation. He is intentionally intimidating with his precision and cold curiosity. He is not afraid to torture unco-operative subjects of his interrogations, as Phil Carrington discovers the hard way.
  • Sturmbannführer (Nigel Stock) and Hauptsturmführer (Terrence Hardiman) - NKVD special camp Nr. 7, the "Good Cop, Bad Cop" Gestapo team who attempt to determine Player's identity when one of their agents captures him. They seem complete opposites, an angry, loud-mouthed pompous grumpy old man and a calm, helpful, kind vegetarian. But in private, it is revealed, they are just as bad as each other: sly, sneaky and cruel.
  • Baumann (Ralph Michael) - The civilian lawyer, sympathetic to prisoners and intent on imposing the letter of German law, who agrees to take Carter's case against Dr. Starb.
  • Obergruppenführer Berger and Hauptsturmführer Schankel - Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger was the real-life SS commander who took over the Leipzig/Colditz area late in the war, and was in charge of the removal of the Prominente from Colditz. He is portrayed in the series as a boisterous but unyielding individual for whom everyone holds a measure of fear, even Major Mohn. His aide, Schankel, is a yes-man who puts up with the patronising attitude of his superior officer with a smile.

Episode summaries[edit]

Series 1[edit]

# Title Writer Original airdate Series No.
01 "The Undefeated" Brian Degas 19 October 1972 (1972-10-19) #1.01
Pat Grant is captured at Dunkirk, and sent along with many other British Officers to Oflag VIIC, Laufen. Together with his colleagues, both a rooftop escape and a tunnelling escape are attempted. The latter works, and Pat escapes dressed as a townswoman. After several days on the run, Pat is caught and sent to Laufen once more. The Kommandant of Oflag VIIC, disgusted with Pat, sends him to the Sonderlager, Oflag IVC, Colditz.
02 "Missing, Presumed Dead" Ian Kennedy Martin 26 October 1972 (1972-10-26) #1.02
Follows the story of Flight Lt Carter. Highlights his recent marriage and the offer from his influential father in law to get him a safer posting. He chooses to fly Wellingtons and is shot down. The episode then follows his ongoing escapes till being sent to Colditz.
03 "Name, Rank, and Number" Arden Winch 2 November 1972 (1972-11-02) #1.03
Dick Player finds himself in trouble when he tries to escape from Reich Security detention and is recaptured without any prisoner ID. The Gestapo suspect he is a spy, and he must find some way to convince them that his perfect German and intimate knowledge of the countryside is the result of his German schooling before the war.
04 "Welcome to Colditz" N.J. Crisp 9 November 1972 (1972-11-09) #1.04
Phil Carrington finds himself chased down in the countryside by Reich Security, and Colonel Preston arrives at Colditz to find everything in disarray. The Colonel is initially unpopular as Senior British Officer as he cracks the whip to get everyone in line. He attempts initially to have his way with the Kommandant by lying about the rules of the Geneva Convention and entering into a gentleman's agreement that no Poles will be allowed in the British quarters.
05 "Maximum Security" John Kruse 16 November 1972 (1972-11-16) #1.05
The new Security Officer, Hauptmann Ulmann, arrives to replace the drafted Oberleutnant Lehr. The prisoners are wary of their new opponent, who seems much more skilled than his predecessor. Ulmann is aghast at the drunkenness of the second-in-command, the Kommandant's friend Willi, and this is a source of tension between him and the Kommandant. Suddenly, the SS arrive for a conference, much to the Kommandant's consternation, and the Standartenführer makes a bid to take over the camp.
06 "The Spirit of Freedom" Marc Brandell 23 November 1972 (1972-11-23) #1.06
Carrington makes himself unpopular with the other prisoners by revealing his admiration for Nazi politics, which he apparently cultivated during his service as a journalist in Berlin before the war. After much harassment is directed at him, the Kommandant allows him his own separate room in which to write a book on Nazi politics. He intends to publish it in America, with Gestapo permission. Unfortunately, before it is sent off, something makes the Gestapo change their minds. In reality the officer who attracted suspicion based on his pre war journalist experience and political views was British commando Micky Burn.
07 "Lord, Didn't It Rain" Arden Winch 30 November 1972 (1972-11-30) #1.07
Dick Player makes an escape but suffers dreadfully because of ongoing bad weather and rain and at one point is given a lift by an SS officer. He becomes sick, runs out of money, and eventually tries to get help from the American consulate who turns him down. This in reality was the circumstances of an escape by Anthony Murray 'Peter' Allan.
08 "The Traitor" John Brason 7 December 1972 (1972-12-07) #1.08
Several escapes that should have worked end badly, with Ulmann waiting for them in hiding spots along the way. Suspecting an informer, Colonel Preston asks the other Senior Officers to interrogate their contingents. His suggestion is met with scorn, but he proceeds to interrogate the British and the others grudgingly follow suit. The perpetrator is caught: a Polish officer whose family was threatened with torture by the Gestapo. The Poles court martial him and condemn him to death, despite the extenuating circumstances. Colonel Preston tries to get him reprieved, with the help of the Catholic Priest, but to no avail. Finally, he goes to the Kommandant (reminding him that the Germans are entirely responsible for the current situation) who sends Ulmann in a race to rescue the Polish traitor.
09 "Bribery and Corruption" N.J. Crisp 14 December 1972 (1972-12-14) #1.09
The British Officers find out that one of the German guards is in need of 1,000 marks for an abortion for his mistress. They use this information and the offer of money to bribe him to look the other way as they escape out of a tunnel. Col Preston finds out about his wife's death and is awarded the Distinguished Service Order. In reality the tunnel escape in question was attempted on the evening of 29 May 1941. Pat Reid and Rupert Barry were among the officers in the escape attempt, Paul Priem was the German Security Officer rather than Reinhold Eggers.
10 "Tweedledum" John Brason 21 December 1972 (1972-12-21) #1.10

This episode won several awards[citation needed]. Wing Commander Marsh (Michael Bryant), an assistant to the British Medical Officer, decides to use his extensive knowledge of mental illness for an escape. He proposes to "go insane" and be repatriated. Colonel Preston agrees to let him, so long as he follows through with it to the bitter end. Marsh does a very thorough job: his bizarre, disruptive behaviour continually annoys the other allied officers, who remain unaware of the scheme. However, the Germans are not convinced, and Ulmann asks a Corporal to observe Marsh closely. The Corporal has a brother who is insane, so Ulmann believes he is a better judge of Marsh's condition than any doctor. The Kommandant initially refuses to allow the Swiss authority to examine Marsh, but relents when Marsh's evident madness embarrasses him in front of an important visitor. By the time the Germans are willing to consider repatriation, Marsh has done such a convincing job that even the Doctor is uncertain whether or not Marsh is simply pretending to be insane. After Marsh has been successfully repatriated to the UK, it is revealed that his feigned psychosis has become genuine and irreversible, and that he has been committed to a mental hospital for long-term care. Colonel Preston immediately forbids any further escape attempts along the same lines.

The method of escape is based on that used by Ion Ferguson, a Royal Army Medical Corps doctor imprisoned in Colditz, who certified a number of prisoners as insane in Stalag IV-D, who were then repatriated to Britain. Ferguson then feigned his own insanity to gain repatriation in 1945. Ferguson detailed his escape in his account of his wartime experiences, Doctor at War, and the episode, Tweedledum, is a fictionalised account of his means of escape retold as tragedy.

In a review of Colditz TV series, the Guardian, describes Tweedledum as "the standout episode, for its ingenuious plan and astonishing acting".[5]
11 "Court Martial" Marc Brandell 28 December 1972 (1972-12-28) #1.11
The unwelcome arrival of Dr. Starb, an upright Wehrmacht Major who is intent on enforcing prisoner discipline at all costs, shakes up the camp. Despite counsel to the contrary from the Kommandant, Dr. Starb insists on enforcing the old German military rule that prisoners must salute German officers. Following disrespect from Carter, he acquires a grudge for the young Flight Lieutenant, who cooks up a scheme to get himself court-martialled so that he can escape in transit. True to form, Starb court martials him and accompanied by Phil Carrington (who is desperate to escape), they head to Leipzig for the trial. While Baumann, an aged German lawyer, prepares Carter's case, the two plot their escape.
12 "Murder?" Ian Kennedy Martin 4 January 1973 (1973-01-04) #1.12
A German sentry is found dead in the parcels office one morning. The Germans insist it was suicide, in order that the Gestapo will not investigate, but Carter observed the body before it was touched, and insists it was murder. He and Colonel Preston attempt to find out who in the camp was responsible before the Gestapo discover that the death was not, indeed, suicide.
13 "The Way Out" Bryan Forbes 11 January 1973 (1973-01-11) #1.13
The story of McDonald (loosely based on Michael Sinclair), who after receiving a "Dear John" letter gets a place on a French escape attempt with tragic consequences.
14 "Gone Away Part I" John Brason 18 January 1973 (1973-01-18) #1.14
The first of a two-part season finale which follows the true story of how Pat Reid and Hank Wardle (in our case Pat Grant & Phil Carrington) escaped from Colditz. This two-parter caused some controversy with Airey Neave, who was upset at its portrayal as the first British escape of the war. It starts with an account of the famous 'tea chest' escape of Flt Lt Dominic Bruce (the ironically named "Medium Sized Man" played by David McCallum) although it shows Bruce being captured outside the castle when in fact he got as far as the U Boat pens at Danzig (now Gdansk).
15 "Gone Away Part II - With The Geese" John Brason 25 January 1973 (1973-01-25) #1.15
Pat Grant and Phil Carrington escape Colditz and dodging German patrols, make it across the Swiss border via what in reality was the Singen route.

Series 2[edit]

# Title Writer Original airdate Series No.
01 "Arrival of a Hero" N.J. Crisp 7 January 1974 (1974-01-07) #2.01
Ulmann is still seething over the "home-run" by Pat Grant and Phil Carrington, and interrogates Dick Player ceaselessly, without success. Meanwhile, the Kommandant is advised that he will have a new second-in-command, Major Horst Mohn, who arrives amidst the prisoners' jubilation over the success of their two colleagues. Mohn informs the Kommandant that he has been sent from the Führer's personal staff after having received both decorations for his aviation exploits and a severe wound in the stomach from a Russian bayonet. He also indicates that Hitler was informed of the successful escape attempt and insists that security be tightened up. Mohn then proceeds to antagonise the prisoners one by one, particularly Carter, whose intimate letters to Cathy he reads with great interest. Because of the friction created, the Kommandant becomes determined that Mohn should be removed from Colditz.
02 "Ghosts" John Brason 14 January 1974 (1974-01-14) #2.02
Player is interrogated by the new escape officer, Carter, who discovers that the main impediment to escapes is that the Germans are alerted to the escapes too quickly. Carter attempts to devise a strategy of covering escapes by ensuring appel counts remain the same. He does this by faking escapes, and hiding the officers concerned in a hole somewhere in the camp, to be used on appels after real escapes. The spot he chooses is the hole under the pulpit in the chapel. Unfortunately for the escape team, and for the dismayed British Padre, the Kommandant decides to close the chapel due to its use in escape attempts. This traps Player and Brent in the pulpit without provisions, and the British Medical Officer gives Carter only two days to get them out.
03 "Odd Man In" Arden Winch 21 January 1974 (1974-01-21) #2.03
The British contingent is upset at the arrival of a black sheep in their midst: Pilot Officer Lawrence Page, an antisocial Royal Air Force prisoner who does not seem to be able to get along with anyone, and behaves oddly at his first appel. He is questioned by another RAF officer, Jimmy Walker at the request of Simon Carter, and discovers inaccuracies in Page's story, making it obvious he is not really an RAF officer. Suspected of being a German stool pigeon, he is interviewed privately by Colonel Preston and Carter, whereupon Page reveals his true identity i.e. that he is an SOE agent. Carter then has the task of confirming this with the help of his wife back in London, using coded messages in his letters to her. Carter and Preston are sworn to secrecy whilst this process is going on. Walker, who still believes that Page is a German spy becomes impatient and starts a fight with Page. Unfortunately for Walker, Page has been trained to kill and maim without hesitation, and Walker ends up with badly gouged eyes. Subsequently, Carter is able to confirm Page's identity as an SOE agent. However, the many dangerous missions Page has experienced have left him a deeply embittered and damaged person who simply wishes to be left alone. Page's dilemma is that he is in a no-win situation i.e. if he is unmasked by the Germans in Colditz then he will definitely be shot as a spy, whereas if he escapes he will be obliged to resume his SOE activities - with a high risk of being captured, tortured by the Gestapo and then executed. As a result, Page wishes to spend the rest of the war in Colditz disguised as a POW. This is because (ironically) being a prisoner is the only way he can escape.
04 "The Guests" Troy Kennedy-Martin 28 January 1974 (1974-01-28) #2.04
A Hauptsturmführer of the SD arrives at the Colditz town jail with three British commandos. He intends to keep this fact a secret, but it leaks both to Colonel Preston and the Kommandant. Preston, aware of Hitler's order that all commandos are to be shot, pressures the Kommandant to take the commandos under his jurisdiction. He tries, but the SD overrules him. In an unusual bout of helpfulness, Mohn suggests to the Kommandant that he could use his high connections to have the commandos transferred to the castle. This is done, but Mohn has ulterior motives. He predicts correctly that the British contingent would attempt to help the commandos escape, and use their best escape plan, the one used by Pat Grant and Phil Carrington to make their home run. Ulmann, anxious to rectify his embarrassment, goes along with Mohn's plan to trap the prisoners while the Kommandant is away.
05 "Frogs in the Well" Thom Keyes 4 February 1974 (1974-02-04) #2.05
The British discover a hopeful escape route through the boarded up camp theatre. Despite protest from Mohn, the Kommandant relents to Colonel Preston's request to have the theatre, which was used for an escape the previous year, reopened. Ulmann is enthusiastic about the idea, hoping to catch the prisoners in the act of plotting to escape. While the prisoners manage to get around Ulmann's heightened security measures, they encounter an unforeseen problem when the French have the same idea of using the safe route out of the theatre.
06 "Ace in the Hole" David Ambrose 11 February 1974 (1974-02-11) #2.06
Carter's hopes are raised by the arrival of Squadron Leader Tony Shaw, a decorated RAF hero. Ulmann is convinced that the celebrity prisoner will be trouble. However, Shaw appears far more interested in pursuing his pre-war role as a professor of literature, quickly rejuvenating the British officer's education classes - much to the joy of the pacificist-leaning librarian. Disappointed, Carter tries to shame Shaw into taking more of a part in the escape plans, but to no avail. But when Shaw discovers a closed off room in the attic adjacent to the library and conceives of the audacious plan to build and fly a glider out of the roof of the castle, Shaw snaps into action with the full backing of the SBO. The librarian is dismayed to find his classes used as mere cover for the escapers' activities - relegated again.
07 "French Leave" Ken Hughes 18 February 1974 (1974-02-18) #2.07
Irritated at having to receive their news from the French, who have not only one, but two wireless units, Carter is asked to request one of them for the British. The request is refused by the stereotypically romantic and womanising Captain André Vaillant. He expresses frustration about being kept as a prisoner of war despite the fact that France is no longer at war with Germany. He is ironically forced to eat his words when Mohn triumphantly announces to the French contingent that, since they are no longer prisoners of war, they are being moved to a labour camp in Poland. Meanwhile, the pastor of Colditz town makes a request to the Kommandant for the prisoners' choir to sing at the town church during the Bishop of Leipzig's visit. The Kommandant reluctantly agrees. As the rest of the French contingent resign themselves to their fate, Vaillant takes this unique opportunity to concoct an escape with the help of a sympathetic and beautiful young German girl, whom he seduces.
08 "The Gambler" N.J. Crisp 25 February 1974 (1974-02-25) #2.08
This episode sees the arrival of Flt Lt Jack Collins. He is a con man and gambler that cheats. He uses his card skills to pull Captain George Brent into betting everything including his house and losing it. He also plays cards with a German guard and manages to take him for enough that the guard is forced to help Collins get a metal ID tag for civilian workers in the castle.
Collins wants no help from the rest of the British Officers and seeks his own escape methods. He feels that if he can get out he will make it based on bis pre-war knowledge of Germany, fluent German and the fact that some his former clients in Germany were Jews that were hiding that fact.
09 "Senior American Officer" Ivan Moffat 4 March 1974 (1974-03-04) #2.09
The lone American Officer in the camp gets a thrill when three other Americans arrive in the camp. One of them turns out to be Phil Carrington, now promoted to Major and sporting a bushy beard. The senior is Colonel Dodd. The third is a Captain. These three are taken to solitary confinement and, at Mohn's urging, given preferential treatment to arouse the suspicions of the British. It is gradually revealed that the Gestapo have an interest in these three, who failed to reveal their connections to the Hungarian resistance movement under interrogation. To allay suspicions, Colonel Preston has Colonel Dodd explain more or less what the three Americans were doing in Hungary, and it turns out that they were, indeed, involved with trying to make contact with the Hungarian free government. Preston and Carrington realise, as the story is being told, that they are under surveillance, and devise a plan to flush out the eavesdropper.
10 "Very Important Person" Ivan Moffat 11 March 1974 (1974-03-11) #2.10
The Prominente, or famous prisoners, of the camp are to be at last used in their capacity as hostages for Hitler and his entourage who are trapped in the encirclement of Berlin. To accommodate this requirement, and to ensure there is no more trouble with escaping prisoners, Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger of the Waffen-SS is put in charge of all prisoners of war. He pays an unannounced visit to the Kommandant to explain the new situation and demand that the Prominente be moved out of Colditz the next morning. The Kommandant, fearing for his life and the lives of the other prisoners, requests that Colonel Preston and Major Carrington do their best to quell the upset this will cause. The situation is further complicated when they discover that their colleague is the son of an American ambassador and thus classified as Prominente. The bedridden Colonel Dodd agrees to the plan of two British officers to help the ambassador's son escape.
11 "Chameleon" Robert Muller 18 March 1974 (1974-03-18) #2.11
Major Mohn is left in charge of the camp as the Kommandant is called away to yet another meeting. He is unsympathetic to Colonel Preston's requests for more rations or the ability to keep animals for sustenance. On a visit to a pub in the town, he meets with a woman named Ana, apparently an old friend. She shows him her brother, recently arrived from the front through Dresden. The brother warns Mohn that he could meet a sticky end because of his involvement with the party (which is apparently deep, since he served on Hitler's staff and reveals he knows about the Final Solution). While initially defiant, Mohn sees the writing on the wall and panics, returning to the camp and making cringeworthy attempts to endear himself to the prisoners. He simultaneously burns every bridge by blackmailing both Ulmann and the Kommandant, and the latter relieves him of all duty. When his last lifeline, Ana, rejects his plea for help since she is being watched, he makes his last bid for freedom prisoner-style.
12 "Death Sentence" N.J. Crisp 25 March 1974 (1974-03-25) #2.12
Mohn's legacy lives on in Colditz in the form of the death sentence hanging over Carrington's head for having threatened Mohn's life in "Very Important Person." Colonel Dodd and Colonel Preston refuse to cooperate with the Kommandant until he is reprieved. Meanwhile, the Kommandant gives an open invitation to his officers to bring their wives and families into the safety of the castle as the American tanks approach. His wife joins him, but Ulmann's is unable. Obergruppenführer Berger takes military control of Colditz's region, making escapes a very dangerous proposition with the countryside full of SS troops. Nevertheless, Squadron Leader Tony Shaw, the maker of the Colditz glider is determined to see it fly, and opts to fly Carrington out before he is executed. Terrible news causes the Kommandant to gain a new perspective on his situation, and new courage.
13 "Liberation" Ivan Moffat 1 April 1974 (1974-04-01) #2.13
The most dangerous time for the prisoners begins, as they await the order from the Nazi government that they are to be shot. Fortunately, the Kommandant comes to Colonel Preston with a plea for a guarantee that he and his men will be delivered to the American liberation forces, and saved from the Russians. Colonel Preston and Colonel Dodd agree on condition that command of the camp is immediately relinquished to them. The Kommandant reluctantly complies, and Colonel Preston takes command of the camp. With roles reversed, the SBO coordinates the smooth delivery of Colditz and its German guard into Allied hands.

Historical accuracy[edit]

Almost all of the events depicted in the series, except for dramatic points like the Kommandant's son and Colonel Preston's wife and mother, have a basis in truth. While there is not a direct one to one relationship between the real and televised characters, most of the televised characters are loosely based on one or several actual persons. The most obvious are Pat Grant (Pat Reid) and Hauptmann Ulmann (Reinhold Eggers).

The series, like the film The Colditz Story, caused controversy with Airey Neave, who objected to Pat Grant's escape being portrayed as the first successful British escape from Colditz.

DVD release[edit]

A 10-disc Region 2 Box Set DVD of the complete series was released on 15 November 2010.

Television repeats[edit]

Although rarely repeated on television in recent years, the complete series was shown again in the UK on the Yesterday channel from 26 October to 2 December 2010, and is currently being rebroadcast on the Yesterday channel. During this second run, the episode "Odd Man In" (#2.03) was not shown.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Colditz (1972)".  at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Colditz: Who's Who". Uktv.co.uk. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  3. ^ "Hut". Pegasusarchive.org. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  4. ^ Eggers, Reinhold (1961). Colditz: The German Story. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 1-84415-536-6. 
  5. ^ Your next box set: Colditz, The Guardian, Tuesday 31 January 2012
  6. ^ "Colditz". uktv.co.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2010. 

External links[edit]