1 9 6 8 – 1 9 6 9 (UK)
13 x 20 minute episodes
Five budding journalists set up a junior newspaper called the Adventure Weekly.
Peter Perkins (Brent Oldfield) is the ingenious 12-year-old editor with a fertile imagination and a father who owns the local paper, the Cliffsea Recorder. This well-developed imagination had landed Peter in trouble for years (the deplorable incident of the camel rides on the beach is recalled in Episode One), but it gives him a sharp sense of what news is, and where to look for it.
The sports editor is Tubby Taylor (Ian Ellis). This well-padded enthusiast admires all sports – from a sitting position. He has no wish to spoil them by joining in. His admiration for Cliffsea United – the local club – leads Adventure Weekly to one of its greatest scoops.
A more serious note is struck by ‘Swot’ English (Frank Barry). He supplies news items from all the surrounding schools. Some of his stories about the masters are so scandalous that only Adventure Weekly would dare to print them. Swot is not always serious. With his spectacles off he can’t see so well, but he fights much better.
The last of this happy quartet is Andy Rogers (Len Jones). He is one of those belligerent boys who always knows how the engines work, how to mend transistor radios, what makes nuclear reactors react, and other mechanical problems that baffle adults. He owns a good camera, which makes him the official photographer of the newspaper.
His pictures are a feature of the front-page stories, and if some of them are a little blurred and crooked, this only proves how exciting the event was.
A later arrival is Frederica – commonly known as Fred (Elizabeth Dear). She makes a bad start with the boys, as she does most things better than they do. But after she has led them to one of their biggest front-page stories, Fred becomes one of the team.
Together, the five become involved in a whole series of adventures spread over 13 episodes which include capturing a team of post office robbers and covering the story of an unexploded WWll bomb.
The kids befriend Mr Filling (Bartlett Mullins) who works as a typesetter for the Recorder – itself an ailing publication with a very modest circulation which is faced with imminent closure until it is bought out by London-based newspaper magnate Lord Huntingford.
The newspaper lets the gang use the press to print the Adventure Weekly and Mr Filling often (reluctantly) gets involved in their schemes and plans. The gang often find themselves in trouble with local bobby PC Cullis (Michael Wisher).
The series was originally conceived as a seven-part children’s drama by the late Shaun Sutton, who was later to become BBC TV’s Head of Drama, but when the extra episodes were added Sutton realised that he was too involved with other projects and he called in Victor Pemberton to write six of them.
It was Pemberton’s first job for the BBC and he remembers it with affection: “Although the idea was hardly earth-shattering, the series and characters were really very appealing. I enjoyed the job very much, not only because it gave me valuable television writing experience, but also because it gave me the chance to work with the late Joan Hickson, that enchanting Miss Marple in a later BBC TV series.”
The series was filmed on location in the Seaford/Newhaven area which doubled for the fictional town of Cliffsea, while the interiors were filmed at the BBC studios in Bristol.
The series was made in black and white and subtitled “five boys, a girl and a printing press.”
Frederica ‘Fred’ Somers