British drama series in which a group of boys have romantic notions of living life in the forest as outlaws.
13 episodes of 30 minute duration. Southern Television. 1980.
Filmed on location (mainly) in the New Forest and around the Hampshire town of Porchester, 'Brendon Chase' ran for 13 episodes between December 1980 and March 1981. It was a typical example of the high quality and high output of children's drama that commercial television excelled in for many years.
The story takes place around 1925 and centres round the Hensman boys, Robin (Craig McFarlane), John (Howard Taylor) and Harold (Paul Erangey), who are spending their summer holiday away from their boarding school and living in the country house of their aunt Ellen (Rosalie Crutchley). With romantic notions of living life in the forest as outlaws they take off for the woods of Brendon Chase where they must fend for themselves, fighting off the natural dangers of living life rough and occasionally foraging into town for food whilst avoiding the local villagers who have by now formed a search party for the errant adolescents. Also helping the search is the local vicar (played by Christopher Biggins), the local policeman PS Bunting (Michael Robbins) and intrepid reporter Monica Hurling (Liza Goddard).
The boys are not entirely alone the whole time and occasionally encounter some of the forests other residents such as Smokoe Joe (Paul Curran), who shares his secrets of the forest with them enabling the children to survive through the summer until (by the last episode) the autumn, when they are finally reunited with their spinster aunt.
The production staff went to great lengths to get a period feel for the drama and even altered road markings, removed roof aerials and repainted front doors, in Porchester, in order to recreate the 1920s. The original story was written by writer and artist, 'BB' (Denys Watkins-Pitchford who decided that his proper name was too long and unwieldy), and first published in 1944 and was adapted for television by James Andrew Hall. A paperback version was published at the same time as the series was televised but the TV version has never been made available on video or DVD.
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