Dick Turpin – 1979
Another of those golden oldie TV series that used to air on a Saturday night. This time we have Richard O’Sullivan, famed for his comedy performances in Man About The House, Robin’s Nest and Me and My Girl, playing a straight role.
The series ran for 31 episodes, broadcast over four series between 1979 and 1982.
However, despite it’s broadcast run, it was produced by Gatetarn, Seacastle productions for London Weekend Television as two series of 13 episodes each and a feature length episode made in-association with RKO pictures in the US called Dick Turpin’s Greatest Adventure which was shown in US cinemas.
In the UK series one went out as 13 episodes in 1979. Series two went out in 1980 as 7 episodes. In 1981, Dick Turpin’s Greatest Adventure was screened as series three over 5 episodes. The remaining 6 episodes from series two were broadcast in 1982 as series four.
Surprisingly the series which would appear to the viewer to be drama, has always being classified under the genre of historical, drama, comedy.
For the purposes of the television series it is set between 1739 and 1740, after the real Dick Turpin was hanged.
Dick Turpin, son of a farmer, returns to England after three years military service in the Mediterranean. On returning home he finds that somebody has been using his name whilst carrying out unscrupulous acts as a highwayman, to make matters worse, before he could be exposed as an imposter he was hanged. Turpin is presumed dead.
When the real Dick Turpin discovers that in his absence his name isn’t the only thing that’s been stolen. Whilst he has been away the unscrupulous Sir John Glutton, has cheated his parents out of their farm, consequently they have died of starvation and Turpin has been robbed of his inheritance.
A bitter Dick Turpin, who now finds himself poor turns to the life of a Highwayman.
An old army nemisis of Turpin’s, Captain Nathan Spiker, working for Sir John Glutton, threatens to evict Mary Smith and her son Nick from their inn ‘The Black Swan’ if they do not hand over 20 pounds.
Meanwhile, the real Dick Turpin, while disguised as a doctor, is accosted by a highwayman who claims to be Dick Turpin himself. The real Dick Turpin humorously, as it turns out, says “I thought you were dead.” He then outwits the fake and reveals himself to be the real Turpin. The fake turns out to be Nick Smith, trying to get the money to pay Spiker. Dick lends him and Mary, an old acquaintance of Dick’s, the money. However, a mix-up occurs when Turpin steals the money back from Sir John and Nick has to be saved from Glutton’s Dungeon by Dick. This makes Nick an outlaw and Turpin takes him under his wing, giving him the name “Swiftnick”.
The series revolves around the pair’s adventures as Dick Turpin rides again to take his revenge on Sir John Glutton.
Richard O’Sullivan – Dick Turpin
Michael Deeks – Swift Nick
Christopher Benjamin – Sir John Glutton
David Daker – Captain Nathan Spiker
Written By: Richard Carpenter, Paul Knight and Sydney Cole.
Produced By: Paul Knight and Sidney Cole
Original Transmission Dates: 6th January 1979 – 6th March 1982