Home Television Drama Flambards

Flambards

1 9 7 8 (UK)
13 x 60 minute episodes

In 1978, Yorkshire Television adapted K.M. Peyton’s Flambards trilogy (FlambardsThe Edge of the Cloud, and Flambards in Summer) as a 13-part series for television. Both series and books are a keen view of England on the eve of World War I.

Christina Parsons is orphaned and sent to live with an innumerable series of relatives, until at age 16 she is sent to live at her slightly mad Uncle Russell’s crumbling Essex estate, Flambards.

Uncle Russell shares the estate with his elder son Mark – a bold, rude adventurous young man whose life is devoted to horses and hunting – and younger son William, who is terrified of horses and now lame from a fall at hunting.

flambards1978

Three guesses which one Christina falls in love with.

Settling in at Flambards, Christina discovers that William (who loves aeroplanes) disappears daily on mysterious walks.

Meanwhile, debt collectors gather regularly at the estate doors, Mark injures Sweetbriar (Christina’s favourite horse) in a hunting accident, and her attempts to add some cheer to her first Christmas at Flambards is met by indifference by everyone except Dick the stable-boy.

When Uncle Russell orders that Sweetbriar be sent to the slaughterhouse, Christina talks Dick into giving the horse to her and William to hide at the home of Mr Dermot, William’s friend who builds and flies aeroplanes.

Mark later discovers Sweetbriar wasn’t destroyed and Dick is fired, leaving Violet as the sole means of support of their invalid mother. When Christina visits the Wright’s cottage and finds them in dire straits, she tries to steal food from the house to help them but is thwarted by Mark.

Meanwhile, on the day of King George’s coronation, William takes his first trip in “Emma,” Mr Dermot’s newest flying machine, and Violet is now dismissed from Flambards also, forcing Dick to join the army to survive.

 Mark then enters the local point-to-point horse race on his expensive new horse and Uncle Russell stakes a lot of money on him, hoping to solve the Flambards financial troubles. The race is ruined when William flies “Emma” over the course.

Uncle Russell is furious and plans to send William to his brother in Canada, but he escapes, intending to look for a job designing aeroplanes near London. Like all good romantic heroes, he takes Christina with him . . .

Now Christina is stuck in Battersea at Aunt Grace’s house while William looks for work. Unfortunately, his bad leg and lack of accreditation do not help matters. Meanwhile, Aunt Grace insists that William get a job before Christina can even think of marrying him.

Will eventually secures a job as a mechanic at an airfield called Elm Park, thanks mainly to the efforts of Sandy, a friend he has made. Christina meets Sandy’s girlfriend, Dorothy, who is a free-spirited young lady (Sandy is teaching her to fly).

To remain near William, Christina takes a job at the Chase Hotel, in training to be a receptionist. William sees a doctor about fixing his knee, meanwhile, as it severely restricts his flying ability.

Mr Dermot dies, and after attending his funeral, William is turned away by his father when he tries to visit Flambards. He returns to Elm Park in “Emma,” which Mr Dermot has left to him in his will.

William has surgery to repair his knee and to help pay the doctors bill, he and Christina fly a Bleriot to France over the Channel. William brings back a magazine from France which describes a spectacular flying stunt.

He attempts the loop-the-loop, and when he is successful he persuades Mr Adams to keep him as a training pilot while Sandy becomes a stunt flyer, bringing in more money for the Adams Flying School.

Mark interrupts the celebration of Will and Sandy’s new flat with the news that Uncle Russell has died.

Although Aunt Grace is disapproving when William doesn’t attend the funeral, she still gives William permission to marry Christina. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes the day William is to exhibit his new plane, the “Dermot,” to an aircraft manufacturer, and Sandy is killed.

flambards_006Following Sandy’s funeral, and with the outbreak of WWI, William joins the Flying Corps. After 2½ years away, Will returns for some (long-overdue) leave, only to learn that his brother Mark is missing in action and presumed killed. William is then killed himself soon after returning to duty.

Now widowed (and pregnant) Christina makes a nostalgic visit to a deserted Elm Park before deciding to return to Flambards and restore the estate to working condition with her recently inherited money.

Dick returns home, invalided out of the army by injury and tuberculosis, and Christina offers him the job of running the estate – a job he finally accepts.

Following the birth of daughter Isobel, Christina returns to supervising the farm work, and with Dick’s help, they celebrate their first albeit small harvest with a joyous dinner – one that is rudely interrupted by the return of Mark, not dead, just released from a prisoner of war camp.

He and Dick immediately become enemies once more, and Mark’s proposes marriage to Christina. She turns him down, realising she may have to leave Flambards if she wants to stay with Dick.

Mark’s illegitimate child (Tizzy) sets the barn afire and Mark and Dick fight side-by-side to save the estate.

Ultimately, Mark’s lawyer reveals that Flambards is so deep in debt that the only way to save it is for Christina to buy it and own it outright.

Christina marries Dick, Mark marries Dorothy (Sandy’s ex) and they all live happily ever after.

K.M. Peyton later wrote a sequel to the series, Flambards Divided, dealing with the marriages of Christina and Dick and Mark and Dorothy. For those who loved the romantic ending to both series and trilogy, the sequel may come as a jolt!

Christina Parsons
Christine McKenna
William Russell

Alan Parnaby
Mark Russell

Steven Grives
Uncle Russell

Edward Judd
Dick Wright

Sebastian Abineri
Violet Wright

Gillian Davey
Mr Dermot

Anton Diffring
Mrs Wright

Sally Sanders
Mary

Rosalie Williams
Sandy

Peter Settelen
Dorothy 

Carol Leader
Fowler

Frank Mills
Joe

David Huscroft
Aunt Grace Marchant

Olive Pendleton
Mr Saunders

Anthony Woodruff
Mr Adams

John Ringham
Aunt Mildred

Beronice Barron
Cousin Jessica

Gwyn Oray
Dr Porter

Michael McCowan
Hedger

Douglas Emery
Dr Hofmeister

George Mikell
Thornton

Geoffrey Tomlinson
Lucas

David Scase
Kennelman

Andrew Jarvis
Johnson

Colin Higgins
Harrison

Arthur Griffiths

Episodes

Arrival | The Blooding | Entry to A New World | Lady Bountiful | Point to Point | The Cold Light of Day | Edge of the Cloud | Flying High | Sing No Sad Songs | New Blood | Prisoners of War | What are servants for? | Inheritance