Flambards (TV series)

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Flambards the complete collection DVD cover
GenrePeriod Drama[1][2]
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes13
Production company(s)ITV[3][4]
Original networkITV
First shown inUnited Kingdom
Original release1979[5]
External links

Flambards was a television series of 13 episodes which was broadcast in the United Kingdom in 1979 on ITV[6][7] 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.[8]

Four episodes were directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark,[9] and four others by Michael Ferguson.[10]

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.[11]


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 story begins with Christina, an orphan who has been shunted from one relative to the next since the age of 5, coming to live with her cousins and uncle at an estate in Essex called Flambards in 1909 at the age of 16. Her crippled uncle (her mother's half-brother) William Russell is 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!"[12]

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.


  1. ^ ""Flying Dreams" Linda's Flambards Page". flambards.flyingdreams.org. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  2. ^ Webmaster. "Flambards | Nostalgia Central". Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Sarah Todd: Horsey tales brought to mind by end of a Sunday TV institution". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  4. ^ Ferguson, Michael; Clark, Lawrence Gordon; Lewis, Leonard; Duffell, Peter (31 July 2006), Flambards: The Complete Series, Network, retrieved 3 October 2019
  5. ^ "Flambards (TV series) (1979)". BFI. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  6. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Plater, Alan (1935-2010) Credits". www.screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Flambards". www.itvstudios.com. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  8. ^ ""Flambards" (1979)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  9. ^ "Lawrence Gordon Clark". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Michael Ferguson (I)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  11. ^ ""Flying Dreams" Linda's Flambards Page". flambards.flyingdreams.org. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  12. ^ Sleeve notes for the 2001 CD re-release of David Fanshawe's music for Flambards

External links[edit]