1 9 6 5 – 1 9 6 8 (UK)
76 x 30 minute episodes
This children’s adventure series from Rediffusion was a spin-off from the prime-time adult thriller Crane and starred Sam Kydd as the titular former-smuggler, Orlando O’Connor.
Crane had quit Morocco, so his wily old Irish sidekick Orlando returned to Britain to run a boatyard at Drake’s Landing, but still taking time out to solve a series of episodic crimes with the help of two kids, Long John (Gregory Phillips) and Triss (Margo Andrew).
The wily old Irishman had been educated at the school of hard knocks, growing up in various children’s homes and later joining the foreign legion. A rogue with a heart of gold, his time with Crane was spent smuggling cigarettes and booze (but never drugs) and occasionally helping out the authorities at those times when it took a crook to catch a crook.
Debuting on 13 April 1965, Orlando had a heavy production schedule, with 52 episodes per year.
Exterior filming was on Monday and rehearsals were on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The studio was set on Friday morning, the recording was done in the afternoon, the show was aired at 5:25 on Friday afternoon . . . and they started all over again the following Monday.
Episodes were largely recorded ‘as live’ in the studio, but with a pleasing amount of location filming (mostly around London’s Docklands) giving it a more polished look.
From the second season onwards, the format changed to a series of short-run cliffhanging serials with Orlando now accompanied by brother and sister Steve (David Munro) and Jenny Morgan (Judy Robinson).
The fourth series tapped into the popular tongue-in-cheek spy send-up genre, with Orlando involved with M.I.N.C.E (Ministry Investigating National Crime and Espionage). Gadgets were now the order of the day and Orlando’s life was often saved by the Magical powers of his talisman, the Gizzmo.
Among the diamond smugglers and the like that Orlando encountered most weeks, his arch-enemy was Moosh, his evil doppelganger played – naturally – by Sam Kydd.
76 programmes were made in total, making Orlando the longest-running of Rediffusion’s children’s serials. The series finally died when Rediffusion merged with ABC to form Thames TV in 1968.
It was replaced in the affections of viewers by the more hardware-obsessed action series Freewheelers.
Long John Turner
Willie the Gospel
Ben Ali Kebab
Mrs O’Connor (Orlando’s mum)
The Silver Spoon | Orlando Tells a Story | A Ring of Dogs | Humpty Dumpty | Mask of Fear | The Black Snake | Ding-Dong Bell | Flight to Calais | A Load of Bilge Water | The New People | Skinny | A Code for Life | The Gold-Plated Football | Packet of Trouble | A Man Called Burton | The Achilles’ Heel | Check | The Cookie begins to Crumble | Rainbow Day | Follow the Leader | The Cemetery Walkers | A Body in the Basin | The Plot Thickens | Maiden Voyage | Break Out | The Tables Turned | The Gizzmo’s Revenge | Royalty Moves In | Lady in Waiting | Corpse Diplomatic | Sink or Swim | That Was No Lady- That was the Man from M.I.N.C.E | Shuffle the Pack and Up Pops the Joker | A Funny Thing Happened to me on My Way to the Prison | And for My Next Trick | The Spies Who Went in from the Cold | Don’t Go Down the Mine Chaps, it’s Bursting at the Seams | Clue in a Clue | Skin Deep | Rhyme – But No Reason | Victory in Sight | Find the Lady | All in the Book |Has Anyone Seen Fred Kebab? | Come with Me to the Casbah | The Man Called Moosh | Only a Camel Loves a Camel | Hubble, Bubble, Double Trouble | Stealers Keepers | Storm Warning | Wake Up Screaming | Peeping Tom | Assassin Airborne | In at the Death | Beginners Please | The Show Must Go On | Clown on a Bike | An Apple a Day | Send for Fred Pinwad | Curtain up | A Tune in the Night | The Stew Thickens | Masks Over Masks | A Bit of a Dance | Pincer Movement | Beau Geste and All That | When Did You Last See Your Father? | Don’t Look Now, There’s a Djellaba Behind you! | Where Was Moosh When the Lights Went Out? | Lady Tapwater Turns It On | Who’s Afraid of Piranha Fish? | Me Tarzan – Up A Gum Tree | Lets Be Hairy Together | Aimez-vous Serge Trowzeroff? | Comment Allez Are You Up? | Au Revoir But Not Goodbye