1 9 5 6 – 1 9 5 7 (UK)
30 x 30 minute episodes
This costume action series related the glorious exploits of King Arthur’s bravest knight and Queen Guinevere’s champion, Sir Lancelot du Lac (brilliantined William Russell, pictured above with a washing-up glove on his head).
In the background was King Arthur (Bruce Seton and then Ronald Leigh-Hunt), his famous sword Excalibur, the revered sorcerer Merlin (Cyril Smith), plus Lancelot’s squire, former kitchen boy Brian (Robert Scroggins).
The first British series to be shot in colour (for 14 of the 30 episodes), the programme was lavishly photographed and used specially commissioned research from Oxford University to ensure the accuracy of its 14th-century settings – although no mention was made of Lancelot’s dalliance with Queen Guinevere (Jane Hylton) or the conception of Sir Galahad behind the King’s back.
William Russell became one of TV’s first heartthrobs through this role. He later played Ian Chesterton, a Doctor Who assistant, before arousing fond memories in middle-aged female viewers when he returned as Ted Sullivan in Coronation Street in the early 1990s.
One of the series greatest legacies was that it provided Patrick McGoohan with an early role in the episode ‘The Outcasts’. Here he met director-writer Ralph Smart, who would later devise Danger Man which would propel McGoohan to stardom and The Prisoner.
Sir Lancelot du Lac
Bruce Seton (1)
Ronald Leigh-Hunt (2)