1 9 6 7 (France)
4 x 75 minute episodes
12 x 22 minute episodes
Originally known as Le Chevalier Tempête, this children’s adventure serial filmed early in 1967 was a co-production between Pathe Cinema and the French television company ORTF, with international funding coming from Switzerland and Canada.
The action takes place in 1630, around the besieged Fort Casal on the Savoie Border between the warring nations of France and Spain.
The liberation of the castle is the key to the intended truce, and there are those within the opposing ranks – most notably the devious Don Alonso (Mario Pilar) – who will do anything in their power to prevent the agreement from taking place.
Unfortunately for them, the French have assigned this mission to dashing young spy Francois, Chevalier de Recci (Robert Etcheverry) and his loyal servant Guillot (Jacques Balutin), a wisecracking pair who seem to get as much of a thrill from corny jokes as they do swordsmanship.
Over the course of the serial they mount a number of plots to rescue the castle, adopt many disguises – including a lengthy spell hiding out with a troupe of travelling players – and stage near-constant daring escapes, whilst Francois becomes involved with a young local noblewoman, Isabelle de Sospel (Genevieve Casile).
The BBC bought the rights during 1968 for transmission in Spring 1969, cutting the original 4 x 75-minute episodes down into 12 x 22-minute ones with the adaptation and redubbing overseen by Peggy Miller.
The identity of the actors performing the English language dialogue was not revealed and remains something of a mystery to this day.
The adventures of Francois and Guillot would later find notoriety when The Flashing Blade was cut up into five-minute segments and comically redubbed for the BBC1 Saturday morning show On the Waterfront in 1988. Each instalment ended with the cast shouting “Shut up!!” after the first couple of bars of the theme song.
Francois, The Chevalier de Recci
La Comtesse – the Duchess
Isabelle de Sospel
Duke de Sospel
Jose Luis De Villalonga