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Here's One They Made Earlier...When They Knew How To Do It
on 2 January 2005
17th century comic strip capers in southern France in one of several series that the BBC, in its infinite wisdom, imported from the continent as part of the memorable "Tales from Europe" anthology, and which lay in wait for Blue Peter viewers on Monday evenings during the Golden Age of children's television. Enjoy a satisfying wallow in nostalgia with this excellent double DVD which will evoke the good old days when summers had never been so happy and sunny. Relive the thrills, the clash of swords, the famous theme song, the quaint costumes and amusing hairstyles, the highly-strung cleric Bodinelli (they're well worth buying it for), and the love (Isabelle de Sospel - aah, François, you lucky devil!). Then recall the arguments with parents that it wasn't a foreign film ("Simon, it's dubbed." "But they're all speaking English." "Yes, but..."). It was some time before I was eventually convinced that it was indeed a French creation. Exquisitely filmed, although you do see a road sign (Roundabout ahead) whizz past as the dashing Lone Ranger de Recci and Tonto-type Guillot make their first cavalier charge across the fields. Occasionally weighed down with excessive diplomatic and military chinwagging - the defenders of Fort Casal spend far more time talking about fighting to the last man than actually doing so - and it all seems a tad too involved at times for a children's series, each episode nonetheless serves up enough action sequences to keep the kiddies entertained, always ensuring that the good guys win the day. The final episode, which I had never previously seen, offers a brief glimpse of how the rest of the series must have appeared when first shown in France: complete French dialogue, the original theme tune and title (Le Chevalier Tempête), as well as a strikingly richer colour quality. A splendid piece of vintage drama from which present-day programme makers could easily take their cue, if they had any light in their lantern, and which also qualifies for that most exclusive of epitaphs: "We shall not see their like again". An essential purchase for anyone who would relish being transported back to those halcyon days of the late 1960s, because we shan't.