1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 2 (UK)
13 x 25 minute episodes
26 x 30 minute episodes
Southern Television produced Bright’s Boffins, a slapstick kids comedy featuring Alexandre Dore as Group Captain Bertram Bright, the hair-brained leader of a department for designing inventions that was so hush-hush even the Government had forgotten about it.
The group took their orders from a mysterious chap from Whitehall, by the name of Sir Desmond Dark (Wee Georgie Wood).
The first series – which debuted on Tuesday 4 August 1970 – saw Bright and his bungling assistants, Thumper (the head of security) and “Dogsears” Dawson, headquartered in Halfwitt House (Rhinefield House, a stately home in the New Forest, was used for location scenes).
The boffins received no official help other than a grant barely sufficient to cover the gas bill. So in order to keep the place operative, Bright resorted to lying, cheating, bribery or blackmail – often all at once.
Looking after all of them was Molly McCrandle (Avril Angers) – a sort of scientific aunt who was also their cook.
The boffins were joined briefly in 1970 by an alien called Oswald (Sadie Corre).
Unfortunately, the house burned down in the first episode of the second series and the group were forced to relocate to Larst Halt – a disused (and haunted) railway station at Great Wiffington.
The boffins finally ended up in an ancient farmhouse, which was built from scratch in the studios at Southern Television Centre. Complete with barn, kitchen, living room, dining room and frontage, the house was a replica of an existing Tudor farmhouse near Wickham in Hampshire.
Johnny Briggs (Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street) appeared in a number of episodes as Tippy the Tipster, and some notable screen actors popped up in the series, among them Valentine Dyall (twice) and Jack Watling.
Denis Shaw (who played Sergeant Thumper) died suddenly in February 1971, aged 50, after having completed two episodes of the series.
Sergeant Percy Thumper