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flam8.jpgFriday I got the boxed DVD set of Flambards and I've been immersed in Edwardian England ever since. If you've never seen the 1978 British production that was all the rage on PBS stations in the early 80s, then you missed horses, aeroplanes, romance, war, a plucky heiress, suffragettes, and oh so much more. Watching it again (I'm 9 episodes through the 13) I was amazed at how it holds up almost 30 years later. Yes, it's sappy and often cheesy, but the performances are still moving. The thing is, I really care about these people, even the ones I hate.

What surprises me now as an adult was how complex some of the issues are that they dealt with - classism, sexism, economic models, technology as a social force, war and peace, tradition, and I could go on. Flambards, the once proud manor at the center of the story, is repeatedly said to be "falling to bits" because its masters have forgotten what it means to serve. They have focused all of their energy on horses and hunting and, consequently, their farms have failed, the bill collectors are at their door, and they have had to let go most of the staff. It is the very model of a falling empire, mired in the past, unaware that its glory days are fading, and with an overwhelming sense of entitlement. Meanwhile the world is changing around it. It is an apt depiction of the failing British Empire or, for that matter, more contemporary examples.

The big disappointment for me is that there are absolutely no special features included. No "making of" documentaries or "where are they now" interviews. Checking around the web I found precious little as to information as to what became of the cast. None seem to go on to much in the way of fame, least of all the lead, Christine McKenna, who was memorable in her role as Christina, who apparently only had one on-screen role post Flambards. And how about all of those vintage aeroplanes that they used! How did they get them? What was it like working with them? And now I'm amazed by some of the technical challenges of the shoots and trying to keep the show clear of anachronisms. Maybe that was easier in 1978 than now. And did the actors do their own stunts?

By the way, I'm watching the series with my 11 year old daughter, Emma, who doesn't get all the nuance, but said after watching half an episode "I'm hooked."

Well, if anyone has ever loved this series or can point me to more information on these things, please leave a comment.

Here are some of the on-line references I could find:


My mom and I were hooked on this series when it first played, oh so long ago. Even now, I can sing that weird theme song (mum, mum, mum, mum, ...) I actually have the novel on which this series was based. It was written by K.M Peyton (a woman) and first published in 1967. Apparently, I at least got to page 298, but I don't remember a thing about it. I must have read it when I was a teenager. You are welcome to borrow it-- for you or your daughter.

Here's an interesting thing... I read that K. M. Peyton was actually a pseudonym for a husband and wife team.

Oh, yes, the theme song is memorable and weird is a good word for it.

I've got the trilogy the series was based on. I found out that K. M. Peyton wrote a subsequent book, Flambards Divided, in 1981 after the series was released.

That sounds likely-- the information about the author in the front of my book is oddly written. It starts out in third person singular, talking about K.M. Peyton meeting her husband Michael (hmm-- M.) at Manchester Art School. The blurb then switches to third person plural.

Besides being creeped out by the theme music, I remember being horrified by the fox-hunting scene, especially when the heroine smeared blood on her face after the hounds killed the fox. I hated her after that.

Wow! How did you manage to watch the rest of the series if you hated Christina after the second episode?

The ritualistic blooding was more fascinating to me than upsetting as a teen. But maybe that is just my inner klingon coming out. Q'apla!

I know-- it was early! I don't know. Maybe I was hypnotized into watching the show by that theme music (which I've now been singing for days-- curse you, ironic one!).

I had pretty strong Anglophile tendencies back then. Chalk it up to that. I probably thought some guy in the series was cute, too.

I think I have more of an inner tribble than an inner klingon. Although I'm sure I could summon some klingon if put into a room with anyone of the hard-right-wing or mega-corporate persuasion.

I saw a flaw in your entry.

Your daughter did NOT say 'I'm hooked' after half an episode.

She said that after the third episode.

Infact what she thought after half an episode was,'he liked that?!'

I hope in the future you will consult her before typing such mistakes.

I stand corrected.

Actually, I'm sitting right now.

But metaphorically, I am standing in a corrected position.

I saw the series when it first was shown on PBS and loved it then...just bought it and am loving it all over again. The mansion which "plays" the role of Flambards is very familiar...I think it may also have been used in the original "Love in a Cold Country" to be "Alconleigh", the home of the Mitfords. Does anyone know where it is and what it is called, or is it a purpose-built movie set?

Looks like it may be Sawley Hall near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Here is some photographic evidence:

Sawley Hall Photo 1
Sawley Hall Photo 2

Thanks for the opportunity to do some sleuthing!

Hello to all the other Flambards fans out there! It is amazing that we all share similar outlooks and influences from this series! It certainly shaped a good part of my youth and I still enjoy the DVDs to this day with my husband and daughters. Just last week, I purchased the Flambards Soundtrack on CD! It is available on David Fanshawe's website. He will even personally autograph it for you! He inscribed a very kind a personal message to me. This is the page if anyone else wants to enjoy this beautiful haunting music again: http://www.fanshawemusicstore.com/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=&products_id=14
Good luck to the site and thanks to Nance for sharing her photos of the Sawley Hall estate. I hope I get to visit it someday too!

Yes yes i certainly remember the days.It was such romantic movie and i loved it. Can anyone please please tell me where i can buy a dvd of this classic.Alex


I got mine off Amazon and it looks like they are still available.

I'm so sad, I remembered the theme tune from my youth and it has haunted me for quite some time to find out what the drama was. I could recall the programme was about two brothers and that it involved war and airplanes. After much searching at last using the net I have finally found the Flambards just ordered the DVD set and cannot wait to watch. Why I have never forgotten the music after nearly 30yrs I just dont know.

hi all. nice site. by.

Only two days ago I redicovered Flambards. I had forgotten the title though I always clearly remembered the name Christine. We watched every episode on PBS and I will now borrow it from a local library and see if I enjoy it as much as I did back in the early 80's.

Wow. I was looking at links to my site as I often do and found several clicks to this particular post. When I googled "flambards" I found, much to my surprise, that this little article was on the front page. Imagine my surprise!

I loved reading the books. I don't often like the shows based on the books my imagination is better than the director's usually is. I liked it mostly for the horses, go figure. I'm sorry to say I never read anything other than Flambards, but I read them several times. I thought Christine was often hard to take. I wanted to slap her more than once. The jumping scenes and the hunting parts were exciting and made me want to go to England just so I could ride "the hunt."

My favourite tv series EVER!
I so loved it , and was thrilled to meet the 'horse manager ' for all the hunting scenes. He provided horses for all the main characters , plus stood in for 'Mark' in the point to point race scene. He is a well knowm=n Yorks show rider , who still lives in that part of the world. It was he that told me several years ago that Sawley Hall was the location , and walking along footpaths on the estate was heaven [ although house can hardly be seen] But now the house and estate is for sale , so anyone with a few million £ can live the Flambards life for themsel;ves!
ps Dick was my favourite. He also seemed to disappear; a few years ago he was in some insurance ads , bald and a liitle portly ...he obviously didnt keep up the riding .....

I was seventeen in 1978 and living and working in and around Sawley village. I can remember the TV people descending on the place and taking over the village pub. I used to spend time at a farm house opposite the church which i'm pretty sure featured in one episode. Did my loud motorbike cause problems whilst they were filming?.. I don't know but that's what i was told. I can remember whistling the theme tune for 6 months after i first heard it.

I believe Flambards was filmed in North Yorks. Azerley, Ripon was almost certainly the location for much of the outdoor scenes and the opening to each episode. Azerley is worth a look around.

I remember watching Flambards on PBS as a child with my Mum. We loved it. I happened upon it at the public library and have watched it in its entirety in just two days! I didn't know it was available on dvd. I'm as hooked now as I was then! I'll be getting my own copy asap :-)

It's fun to find a group of others who loved this series as much as I did. I remember sitting down with my family every Sunday (?) night to watch it, and how we would all speculate about the next episode, and my brother would ALWAYS make fun of the "mum mum mum" music. I have never fallen out of love with this show and just received the DVD set in the mail. I watched the whole thing beginning to end and loved it just as much; even my husband suspiciously hung around the TV although he wouldn't admit he was watching it. I always wanted to learn what happened to the actors and actresses and remember trying to track down "Dick" with no luck.

If you look closely, you will find Sebastian Abineri (Dick) playing a rather obnoxious tradesman in one of the Cadfael episodes ("Rose Rent") starring Derek Jacobi.

I've just finished watching the Flambards on DVD - I remember it from TV in 1979 when I was 11 or 12. With all the themes of crumbling empire it does seem to me to be about the balance between masculine and femine.

I've just finished watching the Flambards on DVD - I remember it from TV in 1979 when I was 11 or 12. With all the themes of crumbling empire it does seem to me to be about the balance between masculine and femine.

Hi all.. I have loved both the books and the movies since I was introduced to the novels at the age of ten and subsequently a few years later to the show. I am still so crazy that I named my first daughter Christina! What a hoot! I tracked down Ms. Peyton (BTW.. she wrote the series all by herself) and sent her a picture of my beautiful baby girl, who is now thirteen, in her stroller at the beach. Ms. Peyton wrote back and told me that Ms. McKenna retired from the film business and now is a teacher for what we in the States call "special needs." The novel and the series had such an effect on me. I adored the stableboy, Dick, and was never able to complete FLAMBARDS DIVIDED once I saw what was going to happen between Christina and Dick... Mark was never good enough for her!

i'm only 18 and have recently watched flambards with my parents. i thought it was fanastic!i'm so glad dick came back in the end! and i cant believe mark turned out to be nice! i wish they put moe family shows like this on tv now instead of all the reality tv rubbish we have to put up with!


Hello. Christine McKenna wrote a book about the making of the series:

We had it in the school library and I borrowed it as long as I could get away with! Intro written by K M Peyton describing her feelings about the series, when she first met the actors, etc., and how Christine became mad on horses as a result - she and Steven Grives used to ride in London, but oneday she was distracted and rode into a fence, injuring her spine, which caused long-term problems. Christine talks about the wigs which kept slipping as she rode, the freezing weather on location, riding up and down the steep hill below the Tower, which terrified her, how she and the other actors pretended they could ride when they couldn't and had to learn very quickly indeed! She mentions a day at the races with her boyfriend Frazer Hines (actor and jockey), and how she dashed from the set still in costume to the racetrack in Ripon, near Sawley Hall where they filmed (photo in the book - she's wearing the summer outfit we see when she starts going to Mr Dermot's). Amazing story of how Alan Parnaby filmed the Point-to-Point crash sequence strapped into a rig under a helicopter - madly dangerous, but he was determined! What a pity we couldn't have had a good long interview with her and the others to go with the DVD. Steven Grives moved to Australia shortly after the series was made, and lives in Queensland, working in theatre, tv and films. He adapted another K M Peyton story, The Right Hand Man (a coaching tale), which was filmed in Australia.

Sawley Hall used to be a Barnado's Orphanage, which is rather poignantly appropriate.

I've got the original soundtrack LP and love listening to it still.

I remember watching the series on PBS and not wanting to miss a single episode because it was that good. Excellent storylines, wonderful character development, and as iconic1 noted, very mature themes all in one story. I ordered the book, then lost it when I moved a few years ago, so I was thrilled to find the trilogy (an exact replica of my original copy) at Amazon. My local library has the tv series on videocassette, and I watched them again a couple of years ago. I was just as enthralled with it now, as an adult, as I was back then as a teenager. I too was a little disappointed that none of the cast seem to have done more--although I did recognize Sebastian Albineri in an episode of "Cadfael" and Peter Settelen played the dastardly Mr Wickham in "Pride and Prejudice" (tv series dating back to 1980), but as for the other main cast members, including the actors who played Christina, William, Mark, and Dorothy, I haven't seen them in anything else nor been able to find out what they're doing now. This series ranks as one of if not my favorite PBS series. I'd watch it again and again--and I think tv series today pale in comparison.

I am about to buy the DVD's of Flambards which was an all-time favourite of mine with the haunting theme tune and lovely story. My husband and I seem to remember that Christine McKenna died quite young a long time ago but have been unable to find any mention of it anywhere now. I would like to be wrong but I am sure this is correct as she had a strong resemblance to a friend of mine so it stuck in my mind.

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