Biggles – Grenada TV 1960

Very short-lived TV series following the adventures of Sgt James Bigglesworth of the Special Air police, known to all as Biggles. 

The series was based on the Biggles adventures written by Capt W E Johns, and ran for 44 black and white half-hour episodes during 1960. Biggles was played by Neville Whiting and he was supported in his endeavors by John Leyton as Ginger and David Drummond as Bertie. The main adversary for Biggles throughout the series was Von Stalhein played by Carl Duering.

Each of the episodes supposedly featured a real instances of flying. Director Matthew Boddy had also apparently decided that all of the actors should have flying lessons. Indeed the actor David Drummond told of one such lesson,  David had taken the second pilots seat during the lesson with John Leyton in the rear, when it came for David to take over the controls from the instructor, he was instructed “Don’t go up.” but he did if fact go up, so sharply in fact that upon landing John was green as due to the sharpness of the climb he had thought they were going to loop the loop.

Now in the original Biggles books there was a fourth member of the team Algy, this character did not however make it into the series as early on, as according to David Drummond, there were discussions and budget did not stretch to a fourth team member, the roles of Bertie and Algy were there for combined.

The series ran from the 1st of April 1960 until 12th October 1960, and the 44 episodes consisted of 11 multi-part stories, which appear from the titles to have been adapted from several of the original Biggles books. “Biggles flies North”, “Biggles Follows On”, Biggles takes Charge” etc.  

By all accounts the series was aimed at a younger audience, with each episode containing plenty of action and excitement, each episode also apparently ended with a cliff hanger inviting the viewer to tune in the following week.   

During the run of the series, the youngest cast member, John Leyton, had received a lot of fan mail, and it was suggested to Leyton that he might try his luck as a pop singer because he had the looks. Chart success came very quickly with his second single “Johnny, Remember Me”, becoming a huge hit.

Several big names appeared in the series in supporting roles among them Oliver Reed and Terrence Alexander. Reed playing Gus Norman in the first story “Biggles on the Home Front”. While Dad’s Army regular John Laurie appeared in the adventure “Biggles Flies North”. 

The series was written by Tony Warren who would go onto create Coronation Street, whilst the series composer, Tony Spier, would also write the theme music for that later series.

Sadly not much other information is available about this series and a planned DVD release by Network was canceled due to a possible new version being in the early stages of pre-production. 

Only items known to be relating to the Grenada TV series are included here.