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  1. I have recently been commissioned to undertake research on a number of obscure 1970s BBC programmes and as a by-product I found some info about the Aeronauts, as its sits outside the remit of my commission and hating the work go to waste and in knowledge it will be remembered fondly by many on here, I thought I would summarise what I have dug up and cobble this footnote together about the programme. Les Chevaliers du Ciel (The Knights of the Heavens) was a France produced Tv series made between 1967 and 1970. It consisted of thirty six 25 minute episodes filmed in colour on 16mm film, spread over three series of 13 episodes each. It debuted on French Tv 16th September 1967 and the final episode aired on the 3rd of March 1970. The series was based on the long running Franco-Belgian comic strip "Les Aventures de Tanguy et Laverdure". The series was produced by the French national broadcaster ORTF, the episodes were a mixture of stand alone ones or 3 or 4 loosely woven together into a linked 'adventure' although they could be still be viewed as standalone episodes. The adventures are: "South Pacific Adventure", " Operation Peru", "Mediterranean Cruise", "Visitors from Canada" and " Mission North Africa". Tanguy is the serious, honest and obedient dude, Laverdure is eccentric, blundering and awkward one and extremely Galic. However, Laverdure is a strong foil for Tanguy in difficult situations of which Laverdure is nearly always is the architect of. The series starts with Tanguy and Laverdue being posted to Dijon where they convert from the Mystere to the state of the art Mirage III and they embark on a series of escapades often based on the cartoon strips. The 1st series was incredibly ponderous, the other two series are a little more lively and faster moving, but still very much of their time, read lots of smoking and drinking and other ills of the time. The later episodes are a fertile aviation archive, along with the the Mysteres, Mirages and Vautours one gets an Air France Connie and B.707-363 with French AF Allouttes, French Navy √Čtendard, T-33 (disguised as a baddy), Meteor NF.11, Neptune PV2-5 (another baddy), C. V. Crusaders, Alize, Balzac VTOL machine and Belgian F-84Fs. Interestingly, very little stock footage was used in the series with the majority shot for purpose, the French Navy and Air Force appear to be have been extremely accommodating. No doubt helped by ORFT, who were the French national agency charged between 1964 and 1974, with providing public radio and television in France. All programming particularly news broadcasts which were under strict control of the French national government. In 1971 the BBC optioned 19 episodes (mainly the 'adventures' ones) of the 36 available to them, they redubbed and re-soundtracked them for the British palate, the remaining 17 episodes were considered to adult for the BBC's purposes including South Pacific Adventure, which arguably were the best episodes of the entire series. Auntie reworked the title sequence removing the original sig tune sung by French legend Johnny Halliday and replaced it with a funky modern one one sung by the relatively unknown Rick Jones, who went onto host the pre-school programme 'Fingerbobs' after which he formed the folk band Meal Ticket who are best know for scoring two of the BBC's long running Play for Today series; "The Flipside of Dominik Hyde" and the sequel "Dominik Hyde: Another Flip". The BBC renamed the series (The Aeronauts) and it originally aired on BBC-1 from Monday. 6th. March. 1972 @ 17:20 and concluded on Nov. 29. 1972. halfway through the run the BBC moved it to Wednesdays at the slightly earlier time of 16:55 and that's where it remained until it had finished its run. The series proved popular enough to spawn a 1973 annual, printed in time for Christmas 1972. The annual simply lifted previously published comic strip stories and translated them from French into English. The Aeronauts started its second BBC run on Saturday the 7th. July. 1973 @10:05am and ran intermittently in the Saturday morning slot (constantly changing times, and was aired anywhere between 9:00am and Midday) until November 1973, its not clear if all 19 episodes were aired as part of this run. It disappeared for a while before it returned to become ad hoc staple of Saturday and weekday holiday periods filler Tv until 1978, whence it disappeared for good. All 36 episodes of the original Les Chevaliers du Ciel are extant however, the BBC English dubbed and re-soundtracked versions have been lost to the sands of time, interestingly what does exist is a brief black and white filmed (telecine) insert from a 1971 Blue Peter episode on the work of the BBC dubbing unit, which shows the unit dubbing the Aeronauts. TFI released a 6 DVD box set in 2000 complete in its original French form. Tommo
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