Pretenders (1972– )

TV Series  -   -  Adventure
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Costume drama set in England in 1685. Two children are caught up in the Duke Of Monmouth's rebellion against King James II. The series followed their various adventures, leading up to the climatic battle of Sedgemoor.

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Title: Pretenders (1972– )

Pretenders (1972– ) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Series cast summary:
Frederick Jaeger ...
 Joachim (11 episodes, 1972)
Curtis Arden ...
 Elam (11 episodes, 1972)
Elizabeth Robillard ...
 Perfect (11 episodes, 1972)
Jonathan Newth ...
 Monmouth / ... (7 episodes, 1972)
Hamilton Dyce ...
 Colonel Kirke (5 episodes, 1972)


Costume drama set in England in 1685. Two children are caught up in the Duke Of Monmouth's rebellion against King James II. The series followed their various adventures, leading up to the climatic battle of Sedgemoor.

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Release Date:

27 February 1972 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs


(13 episodes)


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Broadcast after the death of actor Hamilton Dyce. See more »

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User Reviews

A fine Sunday serial from HTV
15 April 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

After more than forty years I can still remember the narrative voice-over which opened this serial: 'England, the West Country, 1685 - REBELLION. The rebels (including myself though scarce fourteen) were those who rallied to the standard of the Pretender to the throne - the Protestant Duke of Monmouth.' (I was not sufficiently aware that James II was a Catholic and wondered why Monmouth's religion should be mentioned!) There was plenty more in this opening narrative about the stout-hearted farmers and peasants of the West from whom the Duke recruited his ragtag army, the bloodthirsty Colonel Kirke who commanded King James's infamous Tangier regiment (Kirke's 'lambs')and the Duke's German gunner Joachim 'with whom I came to share so many adventures'. The preamble concluded dramatically thus, 'My mother had appeared to tell me on her deathbed that my father was the Duke! Obsessed by this idea I set out with my sister Perfect to find him. We too became PRETENDERS.' The following ten episodes followed this quest for the Duke which concluded with the climactic battle of Sedgemoor, the failure of the rebellion and its aftermath. One of the best aspects of the serial was the way in which the much slower pace of seventeenth-century life was conveyed as Joachim, Elam (the narrator when as an old man he was recalling these dramatic events) and Perfect plodded the West Country (one episode even saw them across the Bristol Channel in Wales) and met and mingled with its inhabitants in search of Monmouth. The gradually escalating tension across the area as the rebellion gathered momentum and built up to Sedgemoor was also well conveyed as was the battle itself, with the impression given that Monmouth came considerably closer to victory than is generally believed. The viewer was, in the final episode, left to draw the conclusion that Elam's father was NOT in fact the Duke of Monmouth but instead an actor who resembled him and with whose band of strolling players the children's mother had been associated. The performances of all five leading characters were very good (although Elizabeth Robillard did not have to do much except look and sound sweet, angelic and innocent) while Curtis Arden as Young Elam gave a fine evocation of a boy who now believes he was born to better things than the life of an itinerant actor. Jonathan Newth as Monmouth was suitably kingly (as he believed he was entitled to be!) but the position of his ragtag army (although in fact outnumbering the King's troops at Sedgemoor) was well encapsulated when Elam said, 'Give me a pistol and I'll die for you' and Monmouth replied, 'Would that I had one to give!' Despite his savagery towards the rebels (Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys's Bloody Assizes were shortly to take place) Hamilton Dyce's Colonel Kirke's loyalty to his regiment was demonstrated when he snarled at a captured rebel, 'You have killed Kirke's men this day - not KING'S men but KIRKE'S men!' There was also a moment early in the battle when Joachim's cannon were doing fell work and Kirke commented, 'Would that their gunner were ours!' However, when Joachim was captured he was condemned by Kirke to hang until 'his face was blacker than black!' Thankfully, the children were able to rescue him before this slow and terrible death reached its conclusion. The serial concluded with Joachim (a fine performance by Frederick Jaeger combining soldierly hardnosedness with compassion for two motherless children) virtually adopting them as all three left England for Hamburg. I don't know if this is available on DVD but it certainly should be. The serial was repeated in 1985 to mark the tricentenary of the Monmouth rebellion.

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