Colditz (1972–1974)
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The Spirit of Freedom 

Phil Carrington is put in with the British prisoners, who are resentful and suspicious of him, especially Simon Carter, as Carrington is supposedly writing a book, explaining the war from ... See full summary »



(autobiographical book "Colditz"), (film "The Colditz Story") | 3 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Bernard Hepton ...
Hans Meyer ...
Paul Chapman ...
Peter Penry-Jones ...
Peter Whitaker ...
Doctor (as Peter Whittaker)
Ronald Gough ...
Chess Player
Chess Player


Phil Carrington is put in with the British prisoners, who are resentful and suspicious of him, especially Simon Carter, as Carrington is supposedly writing a book, explaining the war from the German point of view. After Carter assaults him Carrington is put into solitary confinement to complete his book, which he is sending to be published in America, so far not a protagonist in the war. However the Germans veto the book before it is dispatched and discover that it contains a secret code, warning of Hitler's invasion plans. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Drama | History | War




Release Date:

23 November 1972 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

The Colditz Code
23 July 2008 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

The 1970's were the hey-day of British wartime drama serials. 'Manhunt', 'Pathfinders', 'Secret Army', 'Enemy At The Door', 'Danger U.X.B.' and, of course, 'Colditz' kept viewers enthralled with well-crafted tales, some based on actual events.

Major Pat Reid's 'The Colditz Story' had already formed the basis for an excellent film in 1955, starring John Mills and Eric Portman. In 1972 the B.B.C. decided to turn it into a series. Joining forces with America's Universal T.V., they assembled a top-notch cast to play the P.O.W.'s - future 'Dr.Watson' Edward Hardwicke ( whose character was a thinly disguised version of Reid ), Jack Hedley, Paul Chapman, Richard Heffer, Christopher Neame, Neil Stacy and ex-'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' star David McCallum. Bernard Hepton played the Kommandant. Also in the show was Robert Wagner, whose first series this was following the cancellation of 'It Takes A Thief' two years earlier. His character - Flight Lt.Phil Carrington - took centre stage here, having been confined to smaller roles in the preceding episodes.

Released from solitary confinement, Carrington is placed in the British prisoners' quarters ( America not having entered the war at this point ). He claims to have only gone to Germany as an 'observer', and not to participate in the conflict. The others are repelled by his pro-Nazi views. Simon Carter calls him a 'German stooge', so Carrington hits him. When he is sent back to solitary, he seems pleased to go. He explains that he is writing a book called 'The Spirit Of Freedom' and welcomes the chance to finish it without interruption. It is intended to show America a more positive view of Hitler.

Reading a few chapters, the Gestapo are sufficiently impressed to allow him writing materials. In the meantime, animosity grows towards Carrington. Carter and the others kidnap him from his cell and beat him savagely until the guards save him.

The book completed, Carrington submits it to the Gestapo for approval. But they discover that the text contains a secret code and worse, break it. His scheme to warn America about Hitler's invasion plans shattered, Carrington looks doomed...

Brilliant episode, well written and acted throughout, particularly by Wagner, given a chance to flex his acting muscles after years of being typecast as playboy adventurers. But its McCallum's 'Carter' who stands out, his growing resentment towards Carrington slowly turning to hatred.

One surprising addition to the regulars is Jonathan Lynn, best known ( at that time ) for having played 'Danny Hooley' in the second series of 'Doctor In The House'. He provides some comic relief as a Jewish P.O.W. called 'Bergman'.

The Gestapo officers are portrayed by Peter Barkworth ( from 'Manhunt' ) and a pre-'Sweeney' Dennis Waterman.

Marc Brandel, the writer of this episode, has some interesting credits to his name; he wrote the source novel of an early Oliver Stone movie called 'The Hand', as well as instalments of 'Danger Man', 'Amos Burke Secret Agent', 'Barnaby Jones', and ( surprisingly ) an Elvis Presley picture: 1967's 'Double Trouble'!

Because of copyright problems, 'Colditz' is not yet ( and may never be ) available to buy on D.V.D. Its a shame because its a fantastic series which deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. If you get the chance to view it, do so.

( In 2005, I.T.V. made their own version, starring Damian Green. It boasted some authentic recreations of escape attempts, but was handicapped at being bolted to a silly Mills & Boon style love story. )

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