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Updated March 24, 2003

About Flambards

Episodes

Links

Flambards can be found on video and
DVD at any website that sells those
items. Amazon.com and e-Bay.com
are good sources.

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Photo of Christine McKenna as Christina

In 1978, Yorkshire Television in conjunction with Britain's ITV network, adapted K.M. Peyton's Flambards trilogy (Flambards, The Edge of the Cloud, and Flambards in Summer) as a 13-part series for television.

Flambards the TV series, accented with the wonderful music--including the unforgettable "whistle theme" performed by John O'Neale--of David Fanshawe, was a generally faithful adaptation of the Peyton novels, most plot changes having to do with character ages and scenes simply not able to be filmed. The series' executive producer of the series was David Cunliffe, and the producer was Leonard Lewis.

The series and books are the story of Christina Parsons, orphaned at an early age and sent to live with an innumerable series of relatives, until at age 16 (age 12 in the books), she is sent to live at her Uncle Russell's crumbling Essex estate, Flambards. Crippled years earlier in a hunting accident, Uncle Russell now lives vicariously through his elder son Mark, a bold, rude adventurous young man whose life is also devoted to horses and hunting. But it is William, the younger son, terrified of horses and now lame from a fall at hunting, whom Christina befriends and later learns to love.

Both series and books are a keen view of England on the eve of World War I, as the traditional world of Flambards and Mark clash with William and his deep interest in early aviation.

In 1980, Flambards arrived on American television via PBS. PBS trimmed the series down from 13 episodes to 12 by combining the first two episodes into one, keeping 2/3 of the first episode and 1/3 of the second. They also added narration to the end and beginnings of episodes apprising viewers of events. In the late 1980s, Flambards was shown on the A&E cable network in its thirteen-part form, but heavily commercial-edited.

Episodes 1-5 of the series corresponds with Peyton's first book, Flambards; episodes 6-9 cover Edge of the Cloud; and Flambards in Summer is represented in episodes 10-13.

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, but it is an honest as well as entertaining view of disparate interests.

It would be interesting to find out what Christine McKenna, who made a luminous Christina, is doing these days. The other cast members are working on the stage as well as making occasional television appearances. Steven Grives was a regular on the syndicated series Beastmaster, Sebastian Abineri appeared in the Brother Cadfael mystery The Rose Rent, Frank Mills appeared as Hetty Wainthropp's meddling brother-in-law in The Hetty Wainthropp Mysteries, and Alan Parnaby was on an episode of the British series Casualty.

Flambards paperback with sketch coverPhoto of the Flambards series paperback novelsFlambards paperback with sketch cover


Episode Guide with Cast List

Christina learns to ride1. "Christina"
Script by Alan Plater. Directed by Michael Ferguson.
          Christina arrives at "Flambards," the estate of her uncle William Russell, on the same day her cousin William is thrown from a horse during a hunt and breaks his knee. Although she prefers William, who loves airplanes, to his arrogant brother Mark, she learns to ride quickly and learns to love hunting. But as William's health improves, Christina wonders where he goes on his daily walks.
Christina Parsons: Christine McKenna. William Russell: Alan Parnaby. Mark Russell: Steven Grives. Uncle Russell: Edward Judd. Dick Wright: Sebastian Abineri. Violet Wright: Gillian Davey. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Joe: David Huscroft. Aunt Grace Marchant: Olive Pendleton. Aunt Mildred: Beronice Barron. Cousin Jessica: Gwyn Oray. Dr. Porter: Michael McCowan. Hedger: Douglas Emery.

2. "The Blooding"
Script by Alan Plater. Directed by Lawrence Gordon-Clark.
          Christina continues to "settle in" at Flambards, as bill collectors gather at the estate doors, clumsy Mr. Johnson attempts to tutor the three young people, and Mark dallies with Violet. Christina's attempt to cheer up Flambards' gloomy Christmas is met with indifference, except from Dick the stableboy, and she is glad when spring arrives--until Mark injures Christina's favorite horse in a hunting accident.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Mark: Steven Grives. Uncle Russell: Edward Judd. Dick: Sebastian Abineri. Violet: Gillian Davey. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Joe: David Huscroft. Mr. Dermot: Anton Diffring. Johnson: Colin Higgins. Harrison: Arthur Griffiths.

3. "Entry to a New World"
Will and Mr. DermotScript by Alex Glasgow. Directed by Leonard Lewis.
          Christina talks Dick into giving Sweetbriar to her and William to hide at the home of Mr. Dermot, William's friend who builds and flies airplanes, instead of taking the horse to the slaughterhouse as Uncle Russell has instructed. Christina is amazed by this world of airplanes and motors and is surprised when Mr. Dermot claims William is brilliant. But at a party Mark discovers Sweetbriar wasn't destroyed and Dick is fired, leaving Violet as sole support of their invalid mother.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Mark: Steven Grives. Uncle Russell: Edward Judd. Dick: Sebastian Abineri. Violet: Gillian Davey. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Joe: David Huscroft. Mr. Dermot: Anton Diffring. Dr. Hofmeister: George Mikell. Thornton: Geoffrey Tomlinson. Lucas: David Scase. Kennelman: Andrew Jarvis.

4. "Lady Bountiful"
Script by William Humble. Directed by Michael Ferguson.
          Mark becomes jealous of the time William and Christina spend together; she is still not speaking to Mark since Dick's dismissal. When Christina visits the Wright 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 cornation, William takes his first trip in "Emma," Mr. Dermot's newest "flying machine," and Violet is dismissed from Flambards. Dick must then join the army to survive.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Mark: Steven Grives. Uncle Russell: Edward Judd. Dick: Sebastian Abineri. Violet: Gillian Davey. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Joe: David Huscroft. Mr. Dermot: Anton Diffring. Mrs. Wright: Sally Sanders.

Uncle Russell's car ride to the point to point

5. "Point to Point"
Script by Alex Glasgow. Directed by Lawrence Gordon-Clark.
          Uncle Russell has a great deal of money riding on Mark's winning the local point-to-point race on his expensive new horse, but the race is ruined when William, flying "Emma," has trouble with the aircraft over the course. Uncle Russell, furious, plans to send him to his brother in Canada, but William escapes, intending to look for a job designing airplanes near London, but not before promising to take Christina to the hunt ball.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Mark: Steven Grives. Uncle Russell: Edward Judd. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Joe: David Huscroft. Mr. Dermot: Anton Diffring. Colonel Badstock: John Abineri. Thornton: Geoffrey Tomlinson. Starter: Carl Rae. Bookie: Ted Carroll.

6. "The Cold Light of Day"
Script by William Humble. Directed by Michael Ferguson.
          Christina is left in Battersea, at the home of Aunt Grace, while William looks for work; alas, his bad leg and lack of accreditation do not serve him well. Aunt Grace insists that William have a job before Christina can even think of marrying him. Will eventually gets a job as a mechanic at Elm Park, a flying field, due to the efforts of Sandy, a friend he has made, and Christina meets Dorothy, Sandy's girlfriend, a free-spirited young lady whom Sandy is teaching to fly, to Christina's astonishment. To be near William, Christina eventually takes a job at the Chase Hotel, in training to be a receptionist, and William sees a doctor about fixing his knee, as it severely restricts his flying ability.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Sandy Hardcastle: Peter Settelen. Dorothy Saunders: Carol Leader. Mr. Dermot: Anton Diffring. Percy Adams: John Ringham. Aunt Grace: Olive Pendleton. Mr. Saunders: Anthony Woodruff. Freddie: Michael Syers. Joe: David Huscroft. Mechanic: Mike Perry. Mr. Raynes: Barclay Johnson. Mr. Henderson: Cyril Varley. Business Man: Alick Hayes.

7. "Edge of the Cloud"
Will and Christina fly over the Channel Script by Alan Plater. Directed by Leonard Lewis.
          William attends Mr. Dermot's funeral and is turned away by his father when he makes a stop at Flambards. He returns to Elm Park in "Emma," which Mr. Dermot has willed to him. Meanwhile, Christina stays out all night with William, helping him repair a plane before morning, which gets her into great trouble with Aunt Grace; fortunately Mr. Saunders understands and she's promoted to receptionist. William has surgery to repair his knee and to help pay the doctor bill, he and Christina fly a Bleriot to France over the Channel, where Christina gets a welcome surprise.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Uncle Russell: Edward Judd. Mark: Steven Grives. Sandy: Peter Settelen. Dorothy: Carol Leader. Percy Adams: John Ringham. Aunt Grace: Olive Pendleton. Mr. Saunders: Anthony Woodruff. Joe: David Huscroft. Vicar: John Jardine.

Christina and Will's flight over the channel is accented by "Song of Christina," a bouncing and memorable piece set to the Flambards' theme music.

"Song of Christina"
Music by David Fanshawe. Lyrics by Alan Plater.
Vocal by Nick Curtis.

"I will sing you a song of Christina, Christina, of Christina.
I'll sing you a song of Christina at Flambards.

"I'll sing you no ballads of rose-garden ladies,
Watering flowers in parallel rows;
Instead let me sing you a song of Christina
Who makes her own music wherever she goes.

"I'll sing you a song of Christina, Christina, of Christina.
I'll sing you a song of Christina at Flambards.

"I'll sing you no sonnets of drawing-room ladies
Dipping dry biscuits in unsweetened tea;
Instead I'll show you a girl who walks boldly,
Tough as a diamond, laughing and free.

"I'll sing you a song of Christina, Christina, of Christina.
I'll sing you a song of Christina at Flambards.

"You will not find her kissing the hem of your garment
Bleriot over the English countryside However you beckon and call.
She'll more likely share you red wine and rude stories
In the wee small hours after the ball.

"I'll chant you no anthems of sweet-smelling ladies
Uttering small talk at vicarage teas;
Instead I'll sing of a smiling survivor
Who's been through the wood and the trees.

"I'll sing you a song of Christina, Christina, of Christina.
I'll sing you a song of Christina at Flambards.
I'll sing you a song of Christina, Christina, of Christina.
I'll sing you a song of Christina at Flambards."

   

8. "Flying High"
Script by Alex Glasgow. Directed by Michael Ferguson.
          William attempts a stunt he read about in one of the magazines he brought back from France. When he is successful at looping-the-loop, 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. Meanwhile, Mark, on his way to join the calvary, 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 gives William permission to marry Christina. But tragedy strikes the day William is to exhibit his new plane, the "Dermot," to an aircraft manufacturer.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Mark: Steven Grives. Sandy: Peter Settelen. Dorothy: Carol Leader. Mr. Adams: John Ringham. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Joe: David Huscroft. Aunt Grace: Olive Pendleton. Aunt Maggie: Marjorie Sudell.

Will and Christina on their honeymoon

9. "'Sing No Sad Songs'"
Script by Alan Plater. Directed by Leonard Lewis.
          Following Sandy's funeral, William discusses his plan to join the Flying Corps-- the first World War has just begun--with Christina, but she agrees to be married nevertheless. Mark, on leave from the army, comes to the wedding to give Christina away, and Christina is sure she spies Dick at the end of the ceremony. Will joins the Flying Corps and comes home for a month's leave after 2 1/2 years, learning that Mark is missing in action and presumed killed, and then is killed himself soon after he returns to duty. After a nostalgic visit to a deserted Elm Park, Christina decides to return to Flambards, where she receives good news.
Christina: Christine McKenna. William: Alan Parnaby. Mark: Steven Grives. Dorothy: Carol Leader. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Joe: David Huscroft. Aunt Grace: Olive Pendleton. Gibson: Aubrey Richards. Dick: Sebastian Abineri. Photographer: Brian James. Vicar: Arthur Fortune. Dr. Porter: Michael MaCowan.

10. "New Blood"
Script by William Humble. Directed by Lawrence Gordon-Clark.
          Determined to "bring Flambards alive" again and restore the farm to working condition with her recently inherited money, Christina infuriates Mary and Fowler by asking for repairs and extra work. With all the able men away in the war, Christina is forced to rely on an elderly plasterer for house repairs and two feckless young men for farm help, railling against the restrictions her pregnancy puts on her. Then Christina hatches an idea to find Violet and bring home her child by Mark, a mischief-maker nicknamed "Tizzy."
Christina: Christine McKenna. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Violet: Gillian Davey. Tizzy: Paul Ahmet. Harry: Jonathan Darvill. Stanley: Jim Hooper. Dr. Porter: Michael McCowan. Mrs. Masters: Sandra Voe. Mr. Dobson: Joe Holmes. Bert: Max Smith.

11. "Prisoners of War"
Wilhelm's welcomeScript by Alex Glasgow. Directed by Peter Duffell.
          Christina enrages Mary and Fowler, who are certain they will all be murdered in their beds, by engaging a German prisoner of war to help with the farm work; the "fierce Hun" turns out to be Wilhelm, a gentle man who was a farmer in Germany and who is a harder worker than both Harry and Stanley. Meanwhile, Tizzy informs an astonished Christina that his "Uncle Dick" is home, invalided out of the army by injury and tuberculosis, and Christina offers him the job of running the farm, a job he finally accepts. But Christina further rocks boats by insisting the local landowners treat Dick on an equal footing.
Christina: Christina McKenna. Dick: Sebastian Abineri. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Wilhelm: Alan Downer. Tizzy: Paul Ahmet. Harry: Jonathan Darvill. Stanley: Jim Hooper. Dr. Porter: Michael MaCowan. Official: Neville Wright. Draymen: Ron Pember, Max Smith. Cabby: Geoffrey Hooper. Mr. Lucas: Davis Scase. Mrs. Lucas: Joan Peters. Thornton: Geoffrey Tomlinson. Mrs. Thornton: Joan Ward.

12. "What are Servants For?"
Script by William Humble. Directed by Lawrence Gordon-Clark.
          Following the birth of 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, just released from a prisoner of war camp. He and Dick immediately become enemies, and, when she has to turn down Mark's proposal of marriage, Christina realizes she may have to leave Flambards if she wants to stay with Dick.
Christina: Christina McKenna. Mark: Steven Grives. Dick: Sebastian Abineri. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Wilhelm: Alan Downer. Tizzy: Paul Ahmet. Harry: Jonathan Darvill. Stanley: Jim Hooper. Dorothy: Carol Leader. Amy Masters: Annette Lynton.

A toast to better times

13. "Inheritance"
Script by Alan Plater. Directed by Peter Duffell.
          Dorothy's visit to Flambards ends all too soon, but she hopes she's planted a seed in Mark's mind. When Mark allows Tizzy to ride Pheasant, a horse too strong for him, the boy is lost for hours; while recovering Tizzy overhears Mark quarrelling with Christina over the fate of Flambards. In an effort to not have to leave, Tizzy sets the barn afire and Mark and Dick fight together to save the estate. But when Mark's lawyer reveals Flambards is deep in debt and the only way to save it is for Christina to buy it, the tide turns for her--and Mark as well.
Christina: Christina McKenna. Mark: Steven Grives. Dick: Sebastian Abineri. Mary: Rosalie Williams. Fowler: Frank Mills. Wilhelm: Alan Downer. Tizzy: Paul Ahmet. Harry: Jonathan Darvill. Stanley: Jim Hooper. Dorothy: Carol Leader. Dr. Porter: Michael MaCowan. Perkins: Peter Copley.

Flambards Links

Chris Huston's Flambards Group on Yahoo! The place to talk with other Flambards fans!

Tony Mortlock's Flambards Page

Internet Movie Database Flambards Entry

Photo of Christine McKenna in the British series Kids from 47A

Screen Capture of Christine McKenna, Yorkshire Television Anniversary Show (sent to me by Graham Higson; thanks!)

Purchase the Flambards soundtrack at David Fanshawe's official website (or contact them directly).

  

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