Friday, 17 July 2015

The Buccaneers

Here's Robert Shaw, about to give the order to fire cannons in the opening sequence of The Buccaneers.
The series was made by the same studio that made Robin Hood with Richard Greene, and at about the same time. It's maybe not quite as good as Robin Hood, but it's still enormous fun, and it's sad that it wasn't repeated very often. It's terribly dated now, of course, and was made very much with children in mind (the sort of child I was, who also loved Errol Flynn movies, though I suspect the makers were only thinking of boys).
Captain Dan Tempest was a reformed (sort of) pirate, working with Lt. Beamish of New Providence and getting involved with the Spanish, other pirates, searches for treasure, damsels in distress (or damsels perfectly able to hold their own, in the case of guest Joan Sims and her companions). Quite often, the villains of the week were corrupt British officials, so Dan and his crew were fighting redcoats.
There was some attempt to tie the events into real history, so the governor of the island (never seen after the first couple of episodes) was Woodes Rogers, who really was the governor of New Providence.
Dan was assisted by a multi-national crew - Armando the Spaniard (and where the script called for it, half-Indian), Taffy the Welshman and Gaff the Londoner, with Dickon as ship's boy in some episodes (introduced in the episode The Wasp, where he was working for Blackbeard).
There are some interesting guest stars, some of whom worked on Robin Hood as well - Sid James before the Carry On films, for instance (he was also a moneyer - maker of silver coins - in Robin Hood), Roger Delgado as a Spanish captain (who wonderfully at one point has the line "I am the master now" as he takes over the governor's mansion on New Providence briefly).
There are 39 episodes in all, some better than others of course, but the best are well plotted, and full of humour - and there's always a sword fight (and Dan always wins!).
I've just finished the box set, and I recommend it to anyone who likes old pirate films.

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