The first major dramatic series to be filmed in Canada, Radisson starred Jacques Godin as true-to-life Pierre-Esprit Radisson a French explorer and soldier of fortune who lived between 1636-1710. He arrived in Canada in 1651. His journals, first published as the Voyages of Peter Esprit Radisson (1885), tells of his capture (1652-53) by the Iroquois. Another asserts that he made a trip to the West with his brother-in-law, Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers (played by René Caron in the series). However, the journals are confusing, often leaving great doubt as to the location of places and the time of events. Perfect material, therefore, to be given the full Western adventure treatment. Written by John Lucarotti, Jean Desprez and Renée Normand the series premiered on French Stations on February 3, 1957 and told the continuing story of Radisson's journey up the Hudson during the 17th Century. Filmed on location at Ile Perrot on the St. Lawrence River, the series was the brainchild of Monica Clare, the CBC's national organiser of children's programming. It sold to the USA and Britain (where it first aired in 1959) but not before changing its title outside of Canada to Tomahawk.
A full synopsis and episode breakdown can be found at CTVA.BIZ
26 episodes of 30 minutue duration. CBC (Canada) 1957-58.
Pre-school fun, songs and learning with a dedicated hard core adult following, Rainbow ran for almost twenty years on the ITV network as a production of Thames Television. starring Bungle the Bear (actor and voice artist, Roy Skelton, who had also supplied the grating, memorable voice of a Dalek more than once in the BBC's Doctor Who), alongside puppets George, a mild mannered, pink hippopotamus and the gruff, sarcastic and zip-mouthed creature know as Zippy, as well as human co-star, Geoffrey Hayes, formerly Detective Constable Scatliff at Newtown CID, in the BBC's classic Z-cars. However, the original, now almost forgotten line-up when the series first appeared on the nation's TV screens in 1971, consisted of actor David Cook as the host along with Moony, a meek mauve puppet, and Sunshine, an aggressive yellow one. Another well loved element which contributed greatly to Rainbow's enduring success was the resident musical trio of Rod, Jane and...Matthew. Future custodian of the mighty Sooty franchise, Matthew Corbett was one-third of the shows original musical trio before being replaced by the person who's name helped immortalise the threesome, Freddy! In its early days Rainbow attracted a superb roster of talent for its rotating band of guest storytellers, including Dame Judi Dench and Stephanie Beacham. Charming, innocent and a mainstay of pre-school programming, Rainbow continues to be a fondly remembered and much admired example of the very best television for the very young...as well as the very young at heart.
Approx 1000 shows of 20 minute duration. 1971-92. Rainbow - 30th Anniversary Special Edition [DVD]
THE RANGE RIDER
The Range Rider was a kids' Western series from Gene Autry's Flying A Productions company that produced many other series of the genre around this time. The Range Rider himself (he was not known by any other name) was played by six foot four inch former stuntman Jock Mahoney. Partnered by Dick West (actor Dick Jones), the duo helped right wrongs without hardly drawing their pistols from their holsters, which was just as well for anyone who opposed them because The Rider's accuracy with his guns was known far and wide. There were no other regular characters. The Rider's trusty steed was Rawhide while Dick rode Lucky. The series theme tune was Home on the Range. The series aired on British television in the 1960s but by that time the pair had ridden off into the sunset. Mahoney later starred in CBS's Yancy Derringer while Dick Jones saddled up once more for the syndicated series Buffalo Bill Jr.
79 episodes of 30 minute duration. 1951 - 1953. Range Rider 1-5 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
THE RAT CATCHERS
Based in Whitehall, The Rat Catchers were a highly secretive band of men who officially didn't exist, but whose job it was to ensure the security of Britain and the Western Alliance. The three main characters were international playboy Peregrine Pascale Smith (Gerald Flood) an Oxford educated managing director and cold bloodied, but expert spy, Brigadier Davidson (Philip Stone) the analytical brains behind the organisation, and newcomer Richard Hurst (Glyn Owen) a former Scotland Yard Superintendent. The series was a far cry from the glitzy world of the superspy as being portrayed in the cinema at that time, and more like the bleak underground world seen through the eyes of James Mitchell's Callan, which began its televisual life just around the time that The Rat Catchers was ending its.
Associated Rediffusion. Black and white. 1966-1967.
Based on George Dutfield's 1866 diary, Rawhide told the tale of a team of cowboys on a cattle drive from San Antonio, Texas, to Sedalia, Kansas, during the same period. The drovers were led by Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) but the series is probably best remembered these days for the character Rowdy Yates, a part played by up and coming mega-star Clint Eastwood. (It was this role that brought Eastwood to the attention of spaghetti western director Sergio Leone). Other characters included Wishbone (Paul Brinegar), Mushy (James Murdock), and Pete Nolan (country singer Sheb Wooley, who had a 1958 hit with 'Purple People Eater').
217 episodes of 50 minute duration. CBS TV 1959-66. Rawhide - The Complete Series One [DVD]
THE RED BUTTONS SHOW
Former burlesque and Catskill Mountains resort comedian Red Buttons made his TV debut in September 1952 with a tried and tested format of monologues, dance routines and sketches with his cast of regulars and guest stars. The best known of his sketches were about Red and his wife, played by Dorothy Jolliffe. However, by October Jolliffe had given way to Beverly Dennis who in turn was replaced (at the start of the 1953-54 season) by Betty Ann Grove. By that time though the show, which had been an instant hit with the TV audiences, was visibly floundering. CBS cancelled and The Red Buttons Show was picked up by NBC, who insisted on a change of format. However the show only managed to limp on for another season during which Buttons' difficulties with scriptwriters became legend. As a result of this comedy scribes came and went at an incalculable rate. An 'in-joke' at the time had a writer wandering into Madison Square Garden and, confronted with a screaming mob of 18,000 fans, retreated in panic because he thought he'd stumbled into a meeting of Buttons' writers. In spite of the shows demise Red Buttons went on to have a successful career, earning himself an Academy Award in 1957 as Best Supporting Actor in ’Sayonara’, a film that starred James Garner, Marlon Brando and Ricardo Montalban.
1952-1954 CBS. 1954-1955 NBC.
THE RED SKELTON SHOW
Like many comedians of this era Red Skelton came to television via a successful radio show bringing with him a whole host of well-rounded comedic characters. Skelton had mastered a type of physical comedy that was ideal for television and it kept him employed on US TV screens for twenty years. The format consisted of an opening monologue by Skelton, musical guest stars and a number of sketches. The only other 'regular' on the show was orchestra leader David Rose (who more famously composed 'The Stripper') who had been with Skelton since his radio days. This changed for the last season when a regular company of players supported the star. Skelton was considered a clown rather than a comic and was highly regarded amongst his fellow professionals.
1951-1953 NBC. 1953-1970 CBS. 1970-1971 NBC.
John Thaw got his first starring role as Sergeant Mann of the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police (nicknamed a 'Redcap'), after being spotted by the producers in an episode of The Avengers. His forceful investigations concerned British troops accused of anything from rape, murder or simple desertion from places as far flung as Cyprus to Borneo, and many of the characteristics he portrayed (tough, no-nonsense) were re-employed when he became The Sweeney's Jack Reagan. The series was remade in 2001 with a female lead.
26 episodes of 60 minute duration. ABC (UK). 1964-1966. Redcap [DVD]
Following its success with Flight Of The Heron in 1968, Scottish Television took another excursion into children’s drama with this adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s 1824 novel. Redgauntlet was set some years after 1745 and the events depicted in Flight Of The Heron and concerns itself with the fortunes of Mr Darsie Latimer (James Grant), who is given an allowance by a mother he never sees and orders not to step foot on English soil until he is twenty-five. The lack of an explanation only fuels his curiosity until it eventually gets the better of him and he sets off for the Solway Firth and Cumberland. Once there he is kidnapped by Cristal Nixon (Roddy McMillan) on the orders of Redgauntlet (Jack Watson), a fanatical Jacobite leader who is also known as Herries of Birrenswork. Darsie’s young friend, Alan Fairford (Andrew Robertson), sets out to rescue him and it is eventually revealed by Greenmantle (Isobel Black) that Darsie is the son of the previous Laird of Redgauntlet who was killed at the battle of Culloden, and is therefore the rightful heir to the Redgauntlet fortune, which his uncle had usurped in order to fund another Jacobite uprising. Scott’s novel had previously been adapted by the BBC in 1959 when it was filmed extensively, as in Flight Of The Heron, in many of the genuine locations from the book. This version was adapted by Ian Stuart Black whose daughter played the mysterious Greenmantle. The novel also contains many other colourful characters and is generally regarded as one of the finest examples of Scott’s writing.
8 episodes of 30 minute duration. Scottish Television. 1970
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC Television. 1959.
TV Times article on the 1970 series.
THE ROARING TWENTIES
Set in New York City in the roaring 1920's this adventure series starred Rex Reason and Donald May as two hard hitting reporters for the New York Daily Record, who tried to discover the big scoops of the day by infiltrating the underworld and exposing the crime bosses who were running the city during the Prohibition era. 'The Roaring Twenties tried to recapture the action, humour, the music and the razzle-dazzle that was so typical of that turbulent era in US history, with daring exploits, Park Avenue scandals, jazz, dance marathons, flappers, speakeasies and bootleggers. Or at least that's how its makers, Warner Brothers, described it at the time. The main characters were Scott Norris and Pat Garrison, who were often aided as well as hindered by cub reporter Chris Higbee (Gary Vinson) and Charleston Club singer Delaware 'Pinky' Pinkham (Dorothy Provine). Most of the shows sparkle came from its dance routines and use of authentic newsreel footage from the era it depicted. A dinner jacket and wig once used by Al Jolson were altered to fit Dorothy Provine for one particular musical number and on one occasion a supporting player discovered, on examining the inside label of a suit he was wearing, that it had been worn by James Cagney 22 years earlier in a full-length film called...'The Roaring Twenties'.
26 shows of 60 minute duration.
Presented under the Children's Television banner Robin Hood was the first serialised TV outing for Sherwood Forest's most famous inhabitant. Written by Max Kester and broadcast over six weeks in 30-minute episodes from 17th March 1953, Robin Hood was thought to be, like many series of the day, broadcast live, shown once and then lost forever. However, the BBC was just beginning to experiment with a method whereby televised material could be preserved by filming it from a specially adapted monitor. As a result of this, in what is possibly the earliest example of these 'telerecording' experiments, an entire episode ('The Abbot of St Mary') exists in the BBC archives. Future Doctor Who Patrick Troughton played Robin, with Kenneth MacKintosh as Little John, Wensley Pithey as Friar Tuck and David Kossoff as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
6 episodes of 30 minutes duration. BBC TV. 1953
THE ROY ROGERS SHOW
Known as "The King of the Cowboys" Roy Rogers was a clean-cut singing Western movie actor from Cincinnati, Ohio. Transferring to the small screen, Roy lived on the Double R Bar Ranch in Paradise Valley, near Mineral City. From here he maintained law and order in the contemporary west with help from his bumbling sidekick, Pat Brady. Roy's wife, "Queen of the West", Dale Evans, helped him run a diner called the Eureka Café. Pat drove an unreliable jeep known as Nellybelle whilst Roy rode his trusty Palomino stallion, Trigger. As special trappings for the famous horse Roy had a hand-tooled set of saddle, martingale and bridle made (plus chaps and spurs for himself), which were valued at an estimated $50,000. Dale rode the more modest Buttermilk and they also owned a dog called Bullet. Musical accompaniment came from the Sons of the Pioneers.' Evans sang the series' theme song, 'Happy Trails to You,' and the show was broadcast from 1951 to 1957 in the early evening children's slot on Sunday's by NBC, repeated in syndication on Saturday mornings from 1961 to 1964.
NBC. 1951-1957. The Roy Rogers Show - Vol. 3 [DVD]