Secret Army is a television drama made by the BBC and the Belgian national broadcaster BRT (now VRT) created by Gerard Glaister.
The series tells the story of a fictional Belgian resistance movement in German-occupied Belgium during the Second World War dedicated to returning Allied airmen, usually having been shot down by the Luftwaffe, to Great Britain.
It was made in the UK and Belgium and three series were broadcast on BBC1 between 7 September 1977 and 15 December 1979.
Kessler is a sequel to the series, set in contemporary times.
Lisa Colbert (Jan Francis) runs Lifeline, a Brussels-based resistance organisation that helps Allied aircrew to evade capture and return to Britain via neutral Switzerland or Spain. She is helped by Albert Foiret (Bernard Hepton), proprietor of the Cafe Candide, his mistress Monique Duchamps (Angela Richards) and waitress Natalie Chantrens (Juliet Hammond-Hill).
Their operations are put under further strain when the fervent Nazi, Gestapo Sturmbannführer Ludwig Kessler (Clifford Rose) is assigned to work with Luftwaffe Major Erwin Brandt (Michael Culver) and close down the evasion line.
Flight Lieutenant John Curtis (Christopher Neame), a former evader, is sent back by London as a Special Operations Executive liaison officer to coordinate its activity. At first he is greeted with hostility and suspicion; there is also romantic tension between him and Lisa.
Series One introduces the main characters and the daily risks they take to rescue the young airmen whilst under German occupation, protecting their safe houses and evading investigation. By the end of this series Kessler and Brandt are closing in on Curtis, since their investigation into a murder in France has led them to the name ‘Monsieur Maurice’, which is Curtis’ pseudonym. Brandt and Kessler pay their first visit to the Candide to locate him. Kessler’s interest in Curtis poses a significant threat to Lifeline and so it is agreed that Curtis will return to England. Kessler orders a troop encirclement of Brussels to trap him but Curtis manages to escape to Switzerland by posing as bus driver for a local Hitler Youth group that is travelling out of the city on a day trip.
Albert is having an affair with barmaid Monique Duchamps, while his wife Andrée (Eileen Paige) is bedridden, following an accident two years prior; an out-of-control lorry had ploughed into Albert’s car, with Andrée as a passenger. In the final episode of the series Andrée finds out by spotting Monique going into Albert’s bedroom. She tries to speak to Albert and gets into her wheelchair for the first time but falls down the stairs and breaks her neck, dying instantly.
Series One was transmitted in 1977 and featured sixteen episodes. It begins in 1941 or 1942, when the Café Candide owner Albert Foiret and his mistress Monique Duchamps help Lisa Colbert (codenamed “Yvette”) hide airmen and run the ‘Lifeline’ organisation. The principal Germans in this series are Sturmbannführer Ludwig Kessler and Luftwaffe Major Erwin Brandt. A British agent, Flight Lieutenant John Curtis is Lifeline’s liaison with London.
Secret Army Series
You can find a full overview of Secret Army here.
- Episode 01: Lisa – Code Name Yvette.
- Episode 02: Sergeant on the Run.
- Episode 03: Radishes With Butter.
- Episode 04: Child’s Play.
- Episode 05: Second Chance.
- Episode 06: Growing Up.
- Episode 07: Lost Sheep.
- Episode 08: Guilt.
- Episode 09: Too Near Home.
- Episode 10: Identity in Doubt.
- Episode 11: A Question of Loyalty.
- Episode 12: Hymn to Freedom.
- Episode 13: Bait.
- Episode 14: Good Friday.
- Episode 15: Suspicions.
- Episode 16: Be the First Kid in Your Block to Rule the World.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 07 September 1977 to 29 December 1977.
- Running Time: 50 minutes (per episode).
- Rating: 12.
- Country: UK and Belgium.
- Language: English.