Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Adventures of Don Quick (1970)

This little remembered ITV series from the very early 70’s consisted of six 50 minute episodes of which only the first one is known to still exist.  It starred Ian Hendry and Ronald Lacey as Captain Don Quick and Sergeant Sam Czopanser, two travelling astronauts who land on various planets, righting imaginary wrongs and causing more problems than they found.

I’ve only known about this show for a couple of years and figured for the purposes of this blog that it most probably featured a space suit or two.  The trouble is that finding images from it has proved something of a quest, and images that are of any use to this blog even more difficult to track down.
And then a couple of nights ago I came across this...
Which tells us everything we ever wanted to know, really.
As the cover image of that particular week’s TV-Times, you can see how there were high hopes for the show and how they were banking on the star qualities of Hendry to command a goodly wodge of viewers to sit before their televisions in a prime time hour.  But it was not to be.  So the story goes; that after just three weeks of failing to get the right size of audience the show was moved to a later slot and then cancelled... to all but fade from public memory so it would seem.
I don’t know if Don Quixote in space was ever going to be a mainstream idea but I think it’s certainly an interesting premise and I would love to see the remaining episode some time.
Of special interest to this blog though is the space helmet that’s tucked under Hendry’s arm, there.  That is of course one of those lovely Journey to the far side of the Sun aka Doppelganger helmets that Hendry would have worn a couple of years earlier while appearing in that very same film with Roy Thinnes. Given the air dates for Don Quick and the production time to make five odd hours of TV back then, I’m guessing these were loaned out from ‘Anderson-land’ during the break in filming UFO while they moved studios.  It also helps to explain the sudden proliferation in helmet colour for the second set of UFO episodes, given that they went out yellow and came back red from Doomwatch and white from Don Quick.
Can’t help feeling there’s still even more of these ‘guest appearances’ out there, apart from what’s already been blogged and the couple I’ve still yet to share.


Steve

14 comments:

  1. Oddly enough I've been thinking about this series for a couple of days now. Because it was 1970 and I was 12 (and had a tasco refractor telescope) I was interested. My dad who controlled the TV, was an avid fan of Ronald Lacey (best Actor ever according to him)-so we watched it. I recall only three things: There was something rude about 1 episode, maybe even a bit of female topless nudity (or near nudity)- "Hey I was 12- it mattered". Secondly I recall one episode where a giant dog cocked it's leg over the spaceship and urinated (I was 12 yadda yadda). The last thing was the very downbeat nature of the Sc-Fi (kinda like Dark Star)-this may well have been due to Ronald Lacey, who always managed to look uncomfortable and rather creepy. Lastly the concept which is the thing that most remains with me, two crappy blokes in a crappy spaceship doing a crappy job... If I could write I'd revive it....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really appreciate the memories. You've just made me want to see it even more than I already did. Only 1 episode left but are the scripts still out there? It sounds to me that it might have been a little ahead of its time.

      Many thanks, johns

      Delete
  2. Being only nine at the time I recall nothing of any of the story lines but I do distinctly remember that weasely welsh actor (sorry, don't know his name) uttering all sorts of scatological nonsense some of which I had to ask my Father the meaning. I'm sure he regretted letting me stay up so late on that occasion. So for me, thanks to Dad, it was quite educational. Otherwise, utterly unmemorable.

    However, I was delighted to learn the trivia regarding the helmet and that it may have been briefly fondled by the lovely C(K)atherine S(c)hell. Ooh, err Missus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. even the not so keen reviews still make me want to see it! I'm really happy it's getting some feedback if only on my little blog site. I've been into my sci-fi for years and I can't believe I knew nothing at all about this show until a few years ago. So far off the radar it's crime.
      Thanks for the comments

      Delete
  3. Even stranger, I found myself thinking about it in this same month of May 2012!

    I rememebr watching it, enjoying it, and being disappointed when it was cancelled but not much about the content. Would love to see it again. Somewhere out there its still beaming into deep space...perhaps one day we'll learn how to catch all these transmissions!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Welcome and thank you for the comments, Alister. Apart from raising awareness that there were smash mash spacemen before there were smash smash martians, cooking up a little debate about Don Quick must rank as one of this blogger's happiest achievements thus far. Any more of this and we'll have to start a fan club!

    ReplyDelete
  5. BTW the Welsh actor I mentioned was Talfryn Thomas
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0859560
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/dadsarmy/5210.shtml?page=10
    I seem to remember he may have been in drag in the episode DQ that springs to mind. I know, it's a ghastly thought.
    Will the fan club be having annual conventions?
    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your original description put an image in my mind and now that I've google-imaged Talfryn Thomas I find it's exactley the same person I was thinking it might be. Spooky! or at least Weasely

    I officially declare the fan club will gather after they've found all the missing episodes and on the day of the delux DVD release.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I barely remember this series but it must've made an impression on me because I've tried to dig up reference on it several times, with limited success. My recall is going to be very fallible and I missed most of the episodes but I remember the first episode as being on the edge of stylized 60's drama. There was no real effort at realistic set design which accentuated the surreal feel of the show, although there was some effort to exploit the contemporary interest in the expolits of the Apollo missions . I also recall a more adult-orientated/Barberella type theme to the first episode which is probably why it was killed off.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ok lets see if this helps jog the memories

    type; Don Quick Rex, into your google search and see if it takes you to the first of three pages of stills from the show. rex appears to be an image agency

    It's the best collection of images I've found so far.

    Let me know how you get on. tried to do a Hyperlink but its just not happening.

    as always thanks for the comments DeadSpiderEye

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip, some great photos there.

      Delete
  9. Also if anyone is interested a lot of photos from the series can be viewed on the Rex Features photo agency http://www.rexfeatures.com/search/?&kw=the%20adventures%20of%20don%20quick&sft=&pg=1&context=&viah=N&ord=O&pl=40&smtpfx=&stk=N&lkw=lorna%20heilbron&iso=GBR&od=G

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Stevek, oddly enough I was over there looking at them again last night. This is the same place I was referring to above via a google search. recommend to fans

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete