1 9 6 6 – 1 9 6 7 (UK)
10 x 25 minute episodes
1625. France is threatened by enemies abroad and split by civil and religious strife at home. Louis XIII (John Carlin) is on the throne, but much of the power of the state is in the hands of the great Cardinal Richelieu (Richard Pasco), the all-powerful chief minister of state.
The Musketeers of the title are members of the king’s hand-picked guard, but as the action develops, they and D’Artagnan, the hot-blooded Gascon who becomes their leader, are seen essentially as the champions of Anne of Austria (Carole Potter), Louis’s ill-used queen.
Premiering at 5.30 pm on Sunday 13 November 1966, the series began with young D’Artagnan (Jeremy Brett) – the son of a poor but fiercely proud family in Gascony – leaving home to make his fortune and reputation.
Mounted on a sorry little horse, armed with his father’s sword and with his father’s letter of introduction to the captain of the king’s guard, he sets off for Paris.
At a wayside inn, Rochefort (Edward Brayshaw) mocks his manner and his horse. D’Artagnan draws his steel and immediately finds himself involved in a most delicate matter of state.
He is subsequently accepted as a musketeer, falls in love with Madame Bonacieux (Kathleen Breck), and travels with the wise but melancholy Athos (Jeremy Young), the genial foppish giant Porthos (Brian Blessed, previously Fancy Smith of Z Cars), and the ascetic, priest-like, gallant Aramis (Gary Watson) to England to protect the Duke of Buckingham (Simon Oates) from Rochefort and the scheming Milady de Winter (Mary Peach)
Plenty of swashes are buckled in this ten-part series, which was adapted by Anthony Steven – who performed the same service for the hugely successful The Count of Monte Cristo, directed by Peter Hammond (another Monte Cristo veteran), and produced by William Sterling.
Most of the serial was filmed against the backdrop of the Dorset countryside and coastline.
A 16-episode sequel – The Further Adventures of the Musketeers – followed immediately, a dramatisation of Alexandre Dumas’s Twenty Years After, set in the year 1649.
Milady de Winter
Duke of Buckingham
Madame Constance Bonacieux
M. de Treville
Anne of Austria
Lord de Winter
King Louis XIII
Enemies | The Three Duels | Peril | Audacity | Scandal | Branded | At Night All Cats Are Grey | The Cardinal | Assassin | Walk to the Scaffold