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Secret Army

Chump-y Cher-mans not picturedSTIRRING TREMBLE-LIPPED stoicism from the Second World War, charting the ‘ALLO ‘ALLO-inspiring Belgian resistance capers of BERNARD HEPTON (Albert Foiret) running a restaurant patronized by Nazis while smuggling PoWs out of the country on the side. Unbearably tense, undeniably sentimental but unashamedly ace. JAN FRANCIS was the original resistance ring-leader before getting killed by a falling brick. CHRISTOPHER NEAME was her love interest and British agent who ultimately escaped by driving a bus, Roger Moore-style, very fast towards Switzerland. ANGELA RICHARDS was the angelic-voiced chanteuse and Foiret’s bit on the side, forever irking his bedridden cantankerous missus. CLIFFORD ROSE peered down his nose at all and sundry, failing to ever guess what was going on behind his Beef Wellington, while MICHAEL CULVER almost worked it out before shooting himself and future Demon Headmaster TERRENCE HARDIMAN guessed it but just as the war ended. STEPHEN YARDLEY showed up as a treacherous piano player (always the worst kind), RON PEMBER was the ever-loyal wireless man Alain, and VALENTINE DYALL the superb, non-ruffled Dr Keldermans. Rose resurfaced in KESSLER, wherein his eponymous evil bastard was trying to stay anonymous in some South American banana republic. Opening tracking shot down stills of railway lines, canals, roads and winding tracks set to sombre theme music the epitome of the perfect title sequence.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Bob V

    September 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Brilliant drama whose impact was sadly undermined and diminished by “Allo”, bloody “Allo”. Pulled no punches in it’s depiction of the realities of nazi occupation nor the realities of war. The Lifeline team not only had to put on a front as collaborators to preserve it’s cover, but was also forced into some cruel but necessary actions of it’s own in the name of survival.

    Deserves to be re discovered.

  2. Mick B

    September 17, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    I disagree about ‘Allo ‘Allo, which didn’t obscure Secret Army at the time because the series hadn’t long ended. Some episodes of Allo have been running on the Yesterday channel and while it was never meant to be deep, it still seems fresh and funny, at least half of the time.

    Beautifully, this series can be rediscovered at any time on disc or other means and I’m glad I spent the money. Kessler and many other less-remembered titles I found has made DVD the successor to what VHS became by the 1990s – the no longer glamourous but still substantial archive into which vast releases of obscure and deleted old telly has now been dumped.

  3. richardpd

    September 17, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Another title sequence featured in the TV Graphics Book.

    I remember a one-off repeat in the mid 1990s, I remember my Dad remarking it was the basis of Allo Allo & how the opposing forces became mixed up due to the allies dropping paratroopers far into occupied Europe.

    One plot thread was hunting down some deserting Germans who ended up being shot on sight.

  4. Glenn Aylett

    September 21, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Surprised Michael Sheard wasn’t in Secret Army as he always played Nazis at the time. However, fair does to Clifford Rose for portraying Kessler as some sinister Nazi jobsworth, who also had a human side like when he flew into a rage after his family was killed in an air raid and when he started a romance with a Belgian woman. Also worth checking out is Kessler, where the old Standartenfuhrer is tracked to Paraguay and is hanging out with Josef Mengele.

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