Swashbucklers

The costume adventure series

Author: James Chapman

This book explores the history of swashbuckling television from its origins in the 1950s. It is the first study of one of the most popular and enduring genres in television history, the costume adventure series. Harlech Television's (HTV) Arthur of the Britons and Southern Television's The Black Arrow, which both aired in December 1972, were the first new British costume adventure series since Sir Francis Drake in 1961. The book then maps the major production cycles of the Anglophone swashbuckler both in Britain and in the United States and places the genre in its historical, cultural and institutional contexts. It analyses the cultural politics of the swashbuckler, considering how it has been a vehicle for the representation of ideologies of class, gender and nationhood. The book further shows how the success of The Adventures of Robin Hood in the 1950s established a template for a genre that has been one of the most successful of British television exports. It considers how America responded to the 'British invasion' with its own swashbuckling heroes such as Zorro. Finally, the book focuses on four British swashbucklers of the 1980s, Dick Turpin, Smuggler, Adventurer and Robin of Sherwood, that represent a distinct cycle within the genre.

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