1 9 7 2 (UK)
13 x 30 minute episodes
Somewhere in the West Country of England in 1685, James Scott, Earl of Monmouth (Jonathan Newth), the bastard son of Charles II, has landed at Lyme Regis, raised a rabble army of Protestants and claimed the throne held by his uncle James II, newly converted to Catholicism.
Caught between the Royalist troops under Colonel Kirke (Hamilton Dyce) and the rebels is a troupe of strolling players, ready to improvise at the drop of a hat and prepared to adapt their stories to the political complexion of their audience.
Members of the troupe are Mistress Bracegirdle (June Barrie) and her two children Elam (Curtis Arden) and Perfect (Elizabeth Robillard), heartlessly deserted by their fellow thespians when it becomes known that the mother is at death’s door.
And as Mistress B breathes her last, she confides to her son that his father is none other than Monmouth himself.
Dreaming of being proclaimed a Royal Prince when he finally takes the crown, Elam seeks the pretender Monmouth, facing kidnap, illness and constant danger, accompanied by his sister and their swashbuckling friend Joachim (Frederick Jaeger), a Dutch mercenary, weary of war.
This Sunday evening HTV historical drama series followed the various adventures of the children, leading up to the climactic battle of Sedgemoor, the failure of the rebellion and its aftermath.
Monmouth meets his comeuppance and Colonel Kirke wins the day and takes bloody revenge upon the insurgents. Joachim is hanged from a tree but Elam and Perfect are spared. As Kirke remarks as he rides over the hill. “we have no wish to take revenge upon innocents”.
Sadly, the episodic direction was both irritating and confusing and the Narrator (James Cossins) delivered his lines with a tongue-in-cheek attitude that suggested all too clearly that he didn’t believe a word of it.
Bristol playwright Charles Wood devised and edited the series, which was produced by Leonard White. Executive producer Patrick Dromgoole (the Programme Controller for HTV West) interviewed more than 200 candidates for the lead boy and girl roles before settling on Curtis Arden and Elizabeth Robillard.
Old Elam (narrator)
Duke of Monmouth
Rebellion | Not a Live Thing Left | Escape! | In Safe Keeping | The Players to the Rescue | Shipwreck | The Paymaster | Prince of Avalon | Into Battle | The Last Battle | The Eye of the Drum | Prizemen | Fare Thee Well