The Adventures of Sir Lancelot

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot is a British television series first broadcast in 1956, produced by Sapphire Films for ITC Entertainment and screened on the ITV network. The series starred William Russell as the eponymous Sir Lancelot, a Knight of the Round Table in the time of King Arthur at Camelot.

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot
Titlecard from the colour episodes
Created byLeslie Pointon (Head writer)
Based on traditional legends
StarringWilliam Russell
Opening themeEdwin Astley
Ending themeAlan Lomax[1]
Composer(s)Edwin Astley
Albert Elms
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes30
Production
Executive producer(s)Hannah Weinstein
Producer(s)Sidney Cole
Dallas Bower
Bernard Knowles
Running time25mins
Production company(s)Sapphire Films
DistributorITP Co Ltd
Release
Original networkITV
Picture formatFilm 35mm 4:3
16 Black and white
14 Colour
Audio formatMono
Original release15 September 1956 
20 April 1957

It is one of the very few British television series ever to have been screened on one of the major broadcast networks in the US (as opposed to on PBS or cable television stations). Its success on NBC led to it becoming the first British television series to have entire episodes filmed in colour, with the last fourteen of the thirty half-hour episodes being shot on colour stock, although they were seen in colour only in the US. (Although the BBC's 1954 TV series Zoo Quest pre-dated The Adventures of Sir Lancelot's use of colour film stock by two years, this was only for the location work whilst the studio links were captured by monochrome video cameras).

As was common with other British television series of the time, the programme employed several American screenwriters who had moved to Britain after being placed on the Hollywood blacklist, often under pseudonyms. These included Ian McLellan Hunter and Ring Lardner Jr. The series was made at Nettlefold Studios in Walton-on-Thames.

Cast and characters

Broadcast history

The series debuted in the UK on Saturday 15 September 1956, on London weekend ITV franchise holder ATV, and on the NBC network in the United States nine days later. The last episode was shown on 20 April 1957 in the UK and 16 September 1957 on NBC. It later transferred networks in the US to ABC, who repeated the episodes from October 1957 to September 1958.

Episode list[2]

Airdate is for ATV London [3] ITV regions varied date and order.

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"The Knight with the Red Plume"Ralph SmartLeighton Reynolds15 September 1956 (1956-09-15)
Sir Lancelot is challenged by the other knights before he can become a member of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. He has to prove his worth and is put through a series of rigorous tests. Guest stars: Andrew Crawford as Sir Gawaine, Peter Bennett as Leonides, Brian Worth as Sir Kay, Paul Hansard as Sir Lionel, Edwin Richfield as Sir Christopher
2"The Ferocious Fathers"Ralph SmartLeighton Reynolds22 September 1956 (1956-09-22)
Sir Lancelot goes to the rescue of Urgan the Strong, whose castle is besieged by Sir Melius the Mighty and his two sons. Sir Lancelot drives off the invaders, and Urgan offers his daughter, Helen, in marriage to the knight as a reward for his bravery. Guest star: Ballard Berkeley as Sir Urgan the Strong
3"The Queen's Knight"Ralph SmartLeslie Poynton29 September 1956 (1956-09-29)
Queen Guinevere is kidnapped by King Arthur's cousin, Sir Mordred. He and his father, King Pell, demand King Arthur's kingdom in exchange for the queen's life.
4"The Outcast"Bernard KnowlesLeslie Poynton6 October 1956 (1956-10-06)
When Sir Lancelot requests that his squire be trained to become a knight of the Round Table, he meets with considerable opposition. Guest star: Patrick McGoohan as Sir Glavin
5"Winged Victory"Arthur CrabtreeJohn Ridgely13 October 1956 (1956-10-13)
King Arthur entrusts Sir Lancelot with a secret battle plan for Prince Boudwin. The prince is besieged in his castle by King Mark and is badly in need of help. When Sir Lancelot and Squire Brian arrive, they are captured and King Mark attempts to persuade them to reveal the secret information. Guest stars: Nigel Green as King Mark, Douglas Argent as Prince Boudwin
6"Sir Bliant"Bernard KnowlesJohn Ridgely20 October 1956 (1956-10-20)
Sir Bliant's three sons decide to break the truce King Arthur arranged between their father and Sir Rolf. They carry Sir Rolf's three daughters away as hostages and the distraught father comes to King Arthur for aid.
7"The Pirates"Bernard KnowlesLeslie Poynton27 October 1956 (1956-10-27)
King Arthur and his men set off to capture a band of pirates they believe are hiding out in a coastal town. Actually, the pirates are just waiting for them to leave so they can raid the castle.
8"The Magic Sword"Arthur CrabtreeLeighton Reynolds3 November 1956 (1956-11-03)
A cowardly knight wants to rescue a lady who is imprisoned by her brother. He comes to King Arthur, for advice on how to become courageous. Merlin instills confidence in the young knight by lending him Sir Lancelot's weapon and telling him it is a magic sword. Guest star: Dan Cunningham as Sir Bernard
9"Lancelot's Banishment"Anthony SquirePeggy Philips10 November 1956 (1956-11-10)
Sir Lancelot is banished from Camelot because King Arthur thinks he made a false claim against King Marhaus. Outside of Camelot, Lancelot encounters Marhaus and discovers an evil plot.
10"Roman Wall"Arthur CrabtreeHarold Kent17 November 1956 (1956-11-17)
Sir Lancelot and his squire Brian go to the aid of King Boltan, who swears that ghosts have abducted his daughter.
11"Caledon"Bernard KnowlesLeighton Reynolds24 November 1956 (1956-11-24)
While Sir Lancelot is on a mission for King Arthur, he is robbed and his horse is killed by a group of wild warriors.
12"Theft of Excalibur"Bernard KnowlesH.H. Burns and Peggy Philips1 December 1956 (1956-12-01)
On St. Stephen's Day, King Arthur and his knights traditionally change places for one day with the court squires. During the day, one of the "squires-for-a-day" steals the Sword of Excalibur.
13"The Black Castle"Bernard KnowlesLeslie Poynton8 December 1956 (1956-12-08)
A young knight's prospective father-in-law has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner. Sir Lancelot agrees to help the knight rescue the man.
14"Shepherd's War"Bernard KnowlesLeslie Poynton15 December 1956 (1956-12-15)
A band of renegade knights is preying on the shepherds in the area. Sir Lancelot decides to champion the shepherds' cause, and masquerades as a shepherd to teach them how to fight the knights off. Guest star: Jennifer Jayne
15"The Magic Book"Terry BishopPeggy Philips22 December 1956 (1956-12-22)
Sir Lancelot volunteers to defend an abbey and its occupants from invading Danes.
16"The Ruby of Radnor"Lawrence HuntingtonHamish Hamilton Burns29 December 1956 (1956-12-29)
As punishment for rebelling at working with Merlin's pigeons, Squire Brian is sent on an errand delivering a crate of pigeons to a neighboring castle. En route, he becomes involved with a gang of thieves who stole the precious Ruby of Radnor. Guest stars: Colin Tapley as Everard, Edward Judd as Garth, Eric Corrie as Robert, Reginald Hearne as Hugo, Harold Goodwin as a peasant
17"The Lesser Breed"Terry BishopPeggy Phillips5 January 1957 (1957-01-05)
King Arthur learns that a nearby village is being terrorized by a horrible monster. Sir Lancelot is sent to investigate. He discovers that the monster is really a Viking boat, and that it's the Vikings who are doing the terrorizing. Guest stars: Ann Stephens as Sella, Gerard Heinz as Eck, Wilfred Brambell as a fisherman
18"Witches' Brew"Terry BishopPeggy Phillips12 January 1957 (1957-01-12)
A woman claiming mystical powers has convinced King Bors of Sagitaw that she is working evil against him. Sir Lancelot enlists Merlin's aid against her powers. Guest star: Maxine Audley as Eunice
19"Sir Crustabread"Bernard KnowlesLeslie Poynton19 January 1957 (1957-01-19)
King Arthur gives Sir Lancelot a new name and sends him off to champion a lady who is being forced into marrying an unscrupulous man. Guest stars: Virginia Vernon as Lynette, Hector Ross as Baron Brayor
20"Maid of Somerset"Bernard KnowlesSelwyn Jepson26 January 1957 (1957-01-26)
A young girl asks Sir Lancelot's aid. An evil monarch, King Meliot, is selling the young men of the village of Cheddar into slavery. Guest stars: Patricia Kneale as Ellen, Edward Judd as James, Eddie Malin as Paul, Reginald Hearne as the Chamberlain
21"Knight Errant"Bernard KnowlesPeggy Philips and Selwyn Jepson2 February 1957 (1957-02-02)
After their father dies, two sisters inherit his tiny impoverished kingdom. Their guardian is eager to set up a rich marriage for the older girl, but she is not willing.
22"Double Identity"Lawrence HuntingtonHarold Kent9 February 1957 (1957-02-09)
Sir Richard of Taunton is attacked and beaten by three men and left for dead. His uncle plans to substitute his son, Richard's double, and gain control of the family estate. Lancelot is suspicious and starts investigating. Guest star: Howard Pays as Sir Richard / Sir Alfred
23"The Lady Lilith"Lawrence HuntingdonLeslie Poynton16 February 1957 (1957-02-16)
The Lady Lilith has been running the castle of Goodhue since it was left to her by the late Sir William when she was 14-years-old. Sir Liones petitions for a ruling at the court of the king because the law says that no property can be inherited by a woman. Facing a difficult choice, the King Arthur suggests the best solution would be for Sir Liones to marry the Lady. Guest stars: Shirley Cooklin as Lady Lilith, Richard Leech as Sir Liones, Edward Judd as Abel, Eric Corrie as the Seneschal, Reginald Hearne as a blacksmith
24"The Bridge"Peter MaxwellPeter Key23 February 1957 (1957-02-23)
While preparing for knighthood, Squire Brian uncovers a plot by King Marhaus of neighboring Mercia. The king wants it to appear that the villagers of Poltifax have violated a treaty over the use of their bridge so that he will have an excuse to invade their town. Zena Walker as Angela, Derek Aylward as King Marhaus, Jack May as Caradoc, Eric Corrie as the Priest, Edward Judd as Sir Grint
25"The Ugly Duckling"George More O'FerrallLeslie Poynton9 March 1957 (1957-03-09)
While on a visit to castle Lamorack, Sir Lancelot and Merlin try to help their host when he receives a note threatening his daughter's life. Merlin learns that the note is false, written by the girl herself in a bid for attention. Later, the girl disappears and another note arrives; this time it's genuine. Guest stars: Carol Marsh as Sybil, Jeanette Hutchinson as Amora, Hector Ross as Sir Egbert, Avice Landone as Lady Lamorak, Ian Whitaker as Gault, David Morrell as Sir Kay, Edward Judd as Sir Christopher
26"Knights' Choice"Peter MaxwellPeggy Phillips16 March 1957 (1957-03-16)
After the death of a knight of the Round Table, a young man enters a tournament that will decide who will fill the vacancy. But the other knights object to the young contestant because of his shabby appearance. Sir Lancelot intercedes for him. Guest stars: Alison Leggatt as Morgana Le Fay, Robert Hardy as Rupert, Derek Waring as Balin, Reginald Hearne as Sir Julian, Edward Judd as a sentry, Eric Corrie as Herold
27"The Missing Princess"Desmond DavisLeslie Poynton23 March 1957 (1957-03-23)
When a king breaks a treaty between his country and a tribe of women, his sister is taken hostage. Sir Lancelot sets forth to rescue the princess. Guest stars: Mary Steele as Anne, Linda Gray as Marta, John Horsley as Athelred, Reginald Hearne as Evanston, Mary Manson as Helga
28"The Mortaise Fair"Lawrence HuntingdonLeslie Poynton30 March 1957 (1957-03-30)
While visiting Mortaise Castle, Queen Guinevere is presented with a priceless jewel from the Rajah of Kaipur. Shortly afterward there is a fire, and during the excitement the jewel is stolen. Guest stars: Martin Benson as Hassin, Chin Yu as Vuleika, William Franklyn as Baron Mortaise, Eric Corrie as Osbert, Edward Judd as Ronk
29"The Thieves"Bernard KnowlesH.H. Burns6 April 1957 (1957-04-06)
King Arthur and Sir Lancelot disguise themselves as thieves in order to test the validity of a statement by Lancelot. The knight believes that the thieves of the kingdom are criminals only because they are starving.
30"The Prince of Limerick"Lawrence HuntingtonLeslie Poynton13 April 1957 (1957-04-13)
A prince in love with King Anguish's daughter Kathleen is banished from the court because he possesses nothing but the ability to write rhymes. Sir Lancelot, hearing of the young couple's plight, travels to Anguish's court to help them.Guest stars: Lynne Furlong as Princess Kathleen, Jerome Willis as Prince, Tony Quinn as King Anguish

DVD

The complete series of 30 episodes was released as a DVD boxed set in the UK by Network DVD in 2004. Of the 14 episodes made in colour, only 12 are presented in colour due to financial reasons. The other two colour episodes ('The Ugly Duckling' and 'The Missing Princess') are taken from black and white prints. In the US, the series was released as a DVD boxed set on 19 August 2008 by The Timeless Media Group with 14 episodes presented in colour, taken from US public domain prints.

References

  1. Terrace, Vincent (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007 (Volume 1). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-3305-6.
  2. http://ctva.biz/UK/ITC/SirLancelot.htm
  3. Before 1968 ATV transmitted weekdays in the Midlands and weekends in London. See History of ITV
  • Thompson, Raymond H. (1991) "Television Series". In Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.), The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, pp. 445–446. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.
  • Vahimagi, Tise (1994). British Television: An Illustrated Guide. Oxford. Oxford University Press / British Film Institute. ISBN 0-19-818336-4.
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