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I remember seeing the TV series of William Tell in the late 50s when I was at school, and I thought it was great then, with Conrad Phllips as William, and Willoughby Goddard as the Fat Villain lol. and the real excitement for a 30 minute series was superb for the time and obviously aimed at a child audience. I then saw a re run of the series on sky in the 90s and it was still really good entertainment even for adults. I even saw a very early appearance of Michael Caine in a minor role (Just shows you eh) and quite a few other actors who become better known later in their careers. Well worth a look for anyone who likes a good simple adventure jaunt from a long while ago which I think has kept it's bite through the years.
William Tell is well acted with a cast that includes many household
names as regulars and guest stars such as Michael Caine, Christopher
Lee, Sid James, James Booth and Nigel Green (both in Zulu). For many of
the guest stars it was probably one of their first appearances on
screen so the series is interesting for that alone. William Tell
himself is confidently played (though a bit sternly in my opinion) by
Conrad Phillips. His wife Hedda Tell (Jennifer Jayne) is also a strong
character even if she does disappear for several episodes at a time,
perhaps due to other commitments. The same can be said for Nigel Green
who uses his large presence to great effect as the gigantic but rather
gullible "Bear." Willoughby Goddard makes a great foil for Tell as the
obese and extremely evil Gessler (prepared to behead even children over
the slightest offence).
William Tell makes for better family viewing than most such attempts now as these are often dumbed down, too politically correct, or use rubbish actors (the recent BBC Robin Hood series for example is guilty of all three). There is no sex, bad language or extreme violence though the story is more brutal than in Robin Hood with Richard Greene, perhaps because it is more about freedom fighters trying to save Switzerland from the Austrians than just trying to stop corruption. If you enjoyed this series I would heartily recommend Robin Hood and Buccaneers, both filmed around the same time in the 50's and very similar in the type of storyline.
My favourite episode is probably Manhunt with the ever-villainous Christopher Lee as the Emperors brother who tries to hunt down William Tell and friends like animals. This is probably because it tries to be a bit different from the other episodes which frankly can become a bit repetitive. Having sad that it is no mean feat to write interesting stories that take place in just over 20 minutes and with such an obviously miniscule budget to work with.
Overall, undemanding, action-packed adventure yarns that should be able to hold the attention of younger viewers due to the short running time.
Some of the series were filmed near where I lived in North Wales. The
film company hired my pony for some of the scenes when he was rode by
Hedda Tell (Jennifer Jane). I was fortunate enough to get a week off
school to take my pony down to the 'set' each day and stay the day. It
was quite an experience for a 10 year old! I still remember those days
with fond memories especially when our local doctor was travelling past
the set very early one morning. He did not know about the shoot and was
very taken aback when he saw several men in medieval army dress appear
from behind the rocks!
There was also an interesting scene on the lake when one boat (containing soldiers) were firing arrows at another. I was fascinated to see that the actors in the boat being fired at stuck the arrows in the side of the boat themselves!!
Conrad Phillips stars in the 1950s action adventure series - William Tell. Set in the fourteenth century during the hostile Austrian occupation of Switzerland, William Tell is a reluctant freedom fighter, battling heroically against the tyranny and oppression of the invading forces. William tell is the Swiss version of Robin Hood. Conrad Phillips plays the protagonist fantastically. It is possible that Pascal Bugnion would have had greater success in the role, but he was unavailable at the time of filming. The classic action show is made up of series of 39. The episodes are in black and white, but this does not detract from the entertainment in any way.
The Ralph Smart-produced episode of "William Tell", "The Gauntlet of St
Gerhardt", tells the story of the Tell family stalking and tormenting a
party of Austrian soldiers who have kidnapped a friar (a character not
unlike Tuck from "The Adventures of Robin Hood").
This adventure was scripted, as several of them were, by Doreen Montgomery from Ralph Smart's original story. In several respects, it resembles Ralph's famous Australian film "Bush Christmas" (1947) where a group of children hunt down a band of horse thieves. Ralph obviously drew from scenes in his earlier film, particularly the scene where the Austrians wake up to find their boots have been stolen forcing them to wrap their feet in rags for protection in the bush.
While "The Gauntlet of Sir Gerhard" alluded to the past film, the "William Tell" episode "The Prisoner", also directed by Viennese-born Australian Peter Maxwell, pointed to the future. In this episode, a youthful Michael Caine as the title character is referred to as Prisoner No. 6.
Now I wonder if Patrick McGoohan, star of another Ralph Smart-produced series "Danger Man", had borrowed this title for his sublime follow-up to "Danger Man" also called "The Prisoner".
I would like to think this is more than a coincidence because it adds a certain mystique to these wonderful series. But perhaps I am, like William Tell or Robin Hood, drawing a long bow.
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