Flambards (TV series)

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Flambards the complete collection DVD cover

Flambards was a television series of 13 episodes which was broadcast in the United Kingdom in 1979 and in the United States in 1980. The series was based on the three Flambards novels of English author K. M. Peyton.

The series is set from 1909 to 1918 (World War I is still being fought at the end) and tells how the teenage heroine, the orphaned heiress Christina Parsons (Christine McKenna), comes to live at Flambards, the impoverished Essex estate owned by her crippled and tyrannical uncle, William Russell (Edward Judd), and his two sons, Mark (Steven Grives) and Will Russell (Alan Parnaby). Other cast members included Sebastian Abineri as Dick Wright, Anton Diffring as Mr Dermott, Rosalie Williams as Mary and Frank Mills as Fowler.[1]

Four episodes were directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark,[2] and four others by Michael Ferguson.[3]

In 1980 Flambards was broadcast on American television by PBS who cut the series from 13 episodes to 12 by combining the first two episodes into one. PBS also added narration to the end and beginnings of episodes informing viewers of the events which had been affected by the cuts. In the late 1980s Flambards was shown on the A&E cable network in its full 13 episodes, but heavily commercial-edited.[4]

Synopsis[edit]

The story revolves around Christina Parsons, coming of age in a tumultuous era, of old and new, of horses and aeroplanes, of foxhunts, class, suffragettes, death, war, love, loss and rebuilding new lives out of the ashes of old ones. The viewer will come along for a roller coaster ride but will probably be content with the ending. All of this begins with Christina Parsons, an orphan who has been shifted from one relative to the next since the age of 5, coming to live with cousins and an uncle at an estate in Essex called Flambards in 1909 at the age of 16. Christina Parsons, who has been shunted around the family since she was orphaned at the age of five years in 1901, is sent to live at Flambards with her mother's half-brother, the crippled William Russell (almost never referred to by his first name, she calls him Uncle Russell, perhaps to avoid confusion with her cousin, also named William Russell). Her Aunt Grace speculates that Russell plans for Christina to marry his son Mark in order to restore Flambards to its former glory using the money that she will inherit on her twenty-first birthday. Mark is as brutish as his father, with a great love for hunting, whereas the younger son William is terrified of horses after a hunting accident and aspires to be an early-era aviator. Christina soon finds friendship with the injured William, who challenges her ideas on class boundaries, as well as a love for horses and hunting. William and Christina eventually fall in love and run away to London from the hunt ball.

Musical score[edit]

The series's memorable score was composed by David Fanshawe, who is most famous for his 1972 composition African Sanctus. Of his score for Flambards Fanshawe later wrote,

"On April 5th, 1977, I was on my way to give a talk about my travels in Africa to the Oxfam Annual Staff Conference in Abingdon when, quite by accident, I whistled something, whistled it again, drew five lines and wrote it down. On arrival, I sought out the nearest piano, played the chord of 'A' seventh and whistled again. Just before going on stage, I completed the first phrase by writing it out backwards and indeed whistled it backwards: and that was the beginning of the music for Flambards.

A week earlier, producer Leonard Lewis had phoned me, asking if I would like to compose a score for a 13-part series he was producing for Yorkshire Television. He sent me the books of Flambards by K.M. Peyton, together with the first part adapted for television by Alan Plater. On meeting the star of Flambards, Christine McKenna, who plays Christina in the series, I was convinced that the whistle was right for the signature tune. Keith Morgan, then Head of Music at Yorkshire Television, got the message and even whistled it back. So, that was how I came to compose five hours of music based on a 3½ bar whistle!"[5]

Flying scenes[edit]

For the aerial scenes radio controlled model period aircraft were used, the shots framed so that the small size of the aircraft was concealed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Flambards" (1979)". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  2. ^ "Lawrence Gordon Clark". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  3. ^ "Michael Ferguson (I)". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  4. ^ ""Flying Dreams" Linda's Flambards Page". flambards.flyingdreams.org. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  5. ^ Sleeve notes for the 2001 CD re-release of David Fanshawe's music for Flambards

External links[edit]