In this series, inspired by real events during World War II, the kind, intelligent and worrisome Albert Foiret runs both a café, which is the only notable public house in a small Belgian ... See full summary »
In this series, inspired by real events during World War II, the kind, intelligent and worrisome Albert Foiret runs both a café, which is the only notable public house in a small Belgian town, where locals therefore naturally mix with the Nazi occupation forces, and a just as publicity-shy (even his bed-ridden wife knows nothing) network of the Belgian resistance, devoted to the evacuation of shot-down Allied pilots to Britain. He and his secret 'army' (including some of his staff and the Brussels Dr. Pascal Keldermans), taking orders by illegal radio from London, constantly risk their lives -and if caught by the professionally torturing Gestapo, possibly everyone else's- to find the pilots, hide, nurse and prepare them for the long, dangerous journey out of the Reich under the Nazis' noses, a never ending cat-and-mouse game against specialized German hunters, run by the gentleman Luftwaffe (Air Force)- Major Erwin Brandt and the ruthless Nazi 'secret state police' run by the cunning,... Written by
The BBC was dissatisfied with the final (43rd) episode, possibly due to its polemical tone, and claimed it had been unable to complete the editing due to ongoing disputes with the broadcasting unions. According to the BBC documentary Shelved, broadcast by Radio 4 on 12-12-09, this was at best disingenuous and in fact the script's leaden anti-communist theme was felt to be at odds with the series' previously subtle characterization. None of the cast members interviewed for that programme were now in favor of it being released. See more »
It's No Secret That This A Classic Of British Television
The 1970s was undoubtedly the golden age of British television . There were so many great shows , everything from the Jon Pertwee and early Tom Baker episodes of DOCTOR WHO , THE SWEENEY , THE PROFFESIONALS , FALWTY TOWERS and a dozen other shows that I could list off the top of my head . Perhaps that's why I'd forgotten all about SECRET ARMY a show that I've just been watching again on one of the history channels on freeview and I'm instantly reminded as to how great it was and left me me wondering slightly as to how I'd forgotten it . Actually I think I know why it's unfairly forgotten but I'll explain in a moment
What's so striking is how much thought has gone in to the series . Producer and series creator Gerald Glaister spent the second world war as a bomber pilot and this brings a personal dimension to a series like this . Imagine for a second how much inferior this drama would have been if it'd been produced today by someone from an academic media studies background . It'd almost be a parody wouldn't it ? Take notice too that each and every episode was inspired by actual events that took place during the war and how much research went in to every script . It's sad that today we rarely see if ever such thought go in to a drama
SECRET ARMY is drama ith a capital D . Even if you've little interest in the second world war you can't fail to notice the rich characterisation and intelligent writing . This greatly helps the cast and draws the audience in to on screen events as the Belgian " Lifeline " resistance try to help downed allied bomber crews escape to a neutral country where they'll eventually be repatriated to Britain . It's interesting to note that there's so much moral ambiguity involved . Series hero Albert for instance isn't only painted as a Belgian freedom loving patriot , he's also someone who accepts sums of money from the Brirtish government which helps him run an exclusive restaurant and he hates communists , not as much as his right hand man and confessed thief Max Brocard , but still someone who's not got a selfless motive for helping the allies . There's also doubt in his mind after a main character is written out of the first series in a cruelly ironic way but the money sure comes handy . Likewise the series " Good German " Major Erwin Brandt almost beats an RAF airman to death , a bomb aimer who is only saved by the intervention of gestapo chief Ludwig Kessler
Ludwig Kessler deserves his own paragraph because he is quite simply one of the greatest characters created for British television . Again imagine if he was a character created today he'd be portrayed as one of those " Ve have vays of making you talk Englander " goose stepping stereotypes . He is a three dimensional character who is obviously capable of great cruelty but who is also very intelligent and is driven by a desire to bring order to the world . He is someone who never fails to point out to the other characters " That every hour of the day and night German women and children are being murdered in large numbers by American and British terror raids " . You're not going to like him but you can understand what's motivating him . Praise too for the acting of Clifford Rose who gives a restrained and very subtle performance . Look closely and you'll notice one of Kessler's personal flaws is that he seems very lonely . You could almost feel sorry for him if he wasn't a gestapo head
So why is this show forgotten ? One reason only and that's 'ALLO 'ALLO is directly based upon it . A comedy show that ran for ten years based upon a spoof premise and endless repetitive lines like " Good moaning ... " you stupid woman " and " the madonna with the flashing boobies " YAWN . You quickly become so bored with that comedy show that you quickly forget what inspired it . Perhaps when I say you'll forget all about Renee and the camp Nazis when you watch the repeats of SECRET ARMY you will realise what a genuinely great drama it is
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