1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 3 (UK)
52 x 25 minute episodes
Series 1 : 13 x 25 minute episodes
Series 2 : 13 x 25 minute episodes
Series 3 : 13 x 25 minute episodes
Series 4 : 13 x 25 minute episodes
This long-running serial originally screened at 12:00 on Saturdays on Yorkshire Television, eventually moving to Sunday tea time.
The first series was set in 1854 (with Britain at war in the Crimea) in the Yorkshire countryside, following the adventures of two boys – Jonathan Flaxton (David Smith) and his friend, former apprentice chimney sweep Archie Weekes (Peter Firth) – in a thrilling race against time to find a fortune in treasure hidden somewhere in a large old manor house called Flaxton Hall.
Trying to beat them in their search was Sir Peregrine Stilgoe (Richard Gale), who lived nearby, and his henchman Slight (Gerry Cowan). After many exciting adventures, young Jonathan and Archie outwitted him.
Over four generations of boys, the crumbling Flaxton Hall (Ripley Castle was the actual location) was the scene of ghostly adventure as its mysteries were unravelled.
From Jonathan and Archie in 1854, each of the four series was set in a different period – 1890, 1928 and 1945 – as the Hall’s young inhabitants hunted ghosts, foiled smugglers and went in search of secret treasures.
The series set in 1890 featured Peter Weekes (Dai Bradley), son of Archie – now the administrator and bailiff of Flaxton Hall – and his wife Sarah (Lila Kaye), and David Stilgoe (Philip Maskery), ward of Sir Tarquin Stilgoe (also played by Richard Gale), Sir Peregrine’s son.
Sir Peregrine had died in a coach accident and Stilgoe Lodge had been inherited by Sir Tarquin, a man equally as merciless as his father, and an enemy of the Flaxtons.
Jonathan had disappeared. After a mysterious quarrel between him and his father, Andrew Flaxton, 13 years earlier, he left home and had not been seen or heard of since. Nobody knew if he was dead or alive.
Andrew Flaxton (Moultrie Kelsall), now an old widower, kept Jonathan’s room just as it was when his son left. It was locked and out of bounds to members of the household.
There was also a new threat to the family home. Only Sir Tarquin knew that coal lay beneath the old foundations of the house and that he must acquire the estate to make his fortune from the valuable black seams.
He was helped by a ruthless professed distant relative of the Flaxtons, Jacklin (Gerry Cowan) who had designs on the hall himself.
In their new adventures – including foiling an opium-smuggling ring – the two boys were advised by a kindly rogue, the ‘mouldywarp’ (official mole catcher) of Carliston parish, Barnaby Sweet (Victor Winding), who had a cottage halfway between Stilgoe Lodge and Flaxton Hall.
Young David Stilgoe eventually turned out to be none other than the secret son of Jonathan Flaxton, and the rightful heir to Flaxton Hall. This was the darkest of the four series.
The third series was set in 1928 and featured Jonathan Flaxton (Alan Guy), named after his grandfather, and his young school friend William Pickford (John Ash) from London who joined Jonathan at Flaxton Hall during their long summer holiday.
At the hall were Barnaby Sweet’s son, Benjamin (also played by Victor Winding) and Jonathan’s mother, Lady Jane Flaxton (Veronica Hurst). Her husband, David, had died three years ago, leaving her to bring up their son alone.
Richard Gale returned as conniving new Flaxton Estate Manager Miles Osborne, who was moonlighting as a forger in league with Roger Grafton (Gerry Cowan again) until the boys uncovered their plot and the pair were sent to York Prison.
This third series was far more lighthearted than the previous two, with scenes featuring Osborne and Grafton, especially, played for comedic value. The main recurring storyline followed the trials of Reverend Albermarle Dobson Patridge (Nicholas Pennell) as he struggled to turn the derelict Stilgoe Lodge into an orphanage.
By August 1945, Jonathan’s son, Matthew (Andrew Packett) and Terence Nichols (Philip Baldwin) were the new Flaxton Boys, living at Flaxton Hall with Elizabeth Flaxton (Joanna Jones) and her part-time help Edith (Pamela Duncan).
As the new series opened, WWII had just ended and the soldiers who had used part of Flaxton Hall as a depot were preparing to leave.
The evacuee children who had been housed at Stilgoe Lodge were also on the move, ready to go home. All that is except Terry (who Matthew called “Nickers”), whose home in London had been destroyed and whose parents could not be found – his mother lost somewhere in London, his soldier father missing in action.
Benjamin Sweet returned from the navy to his job as Estate Manager and began the job of rebuilding the Flaxton estate – while the boys encountered escaped Nazi spies, silver thieves, black-marketeers, confidence tricksters, Italian prisoners of war, unexploded bombs and shell-shocked returned servicemen.
In the final episode, set at Christmas 1946, Terry was reunited with his parents – who decided to remain in Yorkshire – and Flaxton Hall was largely destroyed by fire.
The Flaxton Boys involved much location work and stands out through being recorded entirely on videotape. The first series started in 1969, years before the use of video for location recording was commonplace.
The stirring theme tune was the Finale from Symphony No. 1 in D Op. 25, Classical Symphony by Prokofiev. Spooky, blood-chilling narration to the series was by Gerry Cowan (who also played several villainous roles throughout the series).
Peter Firth (1)
Hugh Cross (2)
Sir Peregrine Stilgoe
Sir Tarquin Stilgoe
Jonathan Flaxton II
Alan Guy (1)
Denys Peek (2)
Lady Jane Flaxton
Miles Osborne/Oliver Motley
Rev. Albermarle Dobson Patridge
Sgt. Tom Brophy
Chief Officer Juliet Mincing-Sterne
1854: The Deserter | The Dog | The Ghost | The Tutor | The Smugglers | The Seafarer | The Patient | The Witches | The Bridge | The Hunt | The Island | The Will | The Return
1890: The Meeting | The Globe | The Heir | The Letter | The Diary | The Locket | The Valentine | The Conspiracy |The Messenger | The Discovery | The Attempt | The Homecoming | The Solution
1928: All on a Summer’s Day | A Quiet Sunday | A Fete Worse Than . . . | Snake in the Grass | In and Out of Hiding | The Fastest Gun in the West Riding | Trouble in the Air | To See… a Fine Horse | Things That Go Bump | The Ghost Catcher | The Lady in White | Down a Long Black Hole | Goodbye, Summer . . . Goodbye
1945: Is Your Journey Really Necessary? | This Little Piggy | What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You | No Place Like . . . | The Bevin Boy | Welcome Home, Tommy Atkins | It Fell off the Back of a Lorry | Charity Begins at . . . | Things Are Not What They Seem | Cry Wolf | A Funny Kind of Day | Remember, Remember . . . | Keep the Home Fires Burning