Freewheelers

(United Kingdom | ITV | 1968 – 1973)

Freewheelers
Series Background

Produced by Southern TV for broadcast on ITV between 1968 and 1973, Freewheelers was an adventure series aimed at older children, and which effectively provided James Bond-style adventures for television. Needless to say, it occassionally strayed into the sci-fi area with plots to freeze Britain by using a weather machine, and a device capable of using sunlight to destroy an entire city in one go.

Made in colour from Season 4, the series involved a regularly-changing group of teenagers who would become involved in various plots revolving around the obligatory Nazis and insane criminal masterminds, chief amongst them being the Nazi Von Gelb who would trouble our heroes throughout the first three seasons. Leading the good guys, and starring in the majority of the series was Ronald Leigh-Hunt who played Commander Buchan, one of MI6's best agents.

Familar faces amongst the ever-changing regulars were Tom Owen (Last of the Summer Wine) as Bill Cowan and Wendy Padbury (Zoe in Doctor Who) as Sue.
Further Reading

Freewheelers — Calling White Knight
by Mark Harris
  • Time Screen #15
  • Winter 1990

Freewheelers — Doomsday!
by Mark Harris
  • Time Screen #19
  • Autumn 1992
Archive Status / DVD Releases

Sadly, like many programmes of the era, Freewheelers no longer exists in its entirety.

Season 1 and one single episode from Season 2 still exist. Seasons 3 to 5 are completely missing.

Season 6 still exists in its original format and was released on DVD in 2009. Although the release didn't include any extras, it did contain a booklet by Marcus Hearn. No subtitles.

And for anyone thinking that the wilful destruction of the UK's television heritage was a thing of the distant past, think again.

Shamefully, Seasons 7 and 8 of Freewheelers existed in their entirety until the mid-2000s, when many of the original videotapes were junked. As a consequence, one of the thirteen Season 7 episodes is missing, as are eleven of the thirteen from Season 8. All of these now-missing episodes do still exist as off-air recordings however.
Freewheelers: The Sign of the Beaver

by
Alan Fennell
Cover image: Freewheelers, The Sign of the Beaver, Piccolo Books (1971)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Piccolo Books
Publication Date 1971
Original Price 20p
ISBN 0330029371
Illustrator Alex Badia

The Sign of the Beaver is an original novel featuring Colonel Buchan, Mike, Steve, Sue and Dr Jo Bell.

Back Cover Blurb
The audacious kidnapping of top diplomats the world over signals the start of another exciting adventure for the Freewheelers and their friends in MI6...

A dangerous trail leads the resourceful teenagers from ambush in the Persian Gulf to a radio station in Norfolk, from a vanishing tank on Salisbury Plain to the snarling tigers of a travelling circus.

In a hair-raising finish Mike and Sue discover the secret of the Beaver only to come face to face with death in a fairground...
Notes
  • The Sign of the Beaver was the first of two original novels based on Freewheelers, both of which were written by Alan Fennell.
  • Taking into account the characters present in The Sign of the Beaver, it must be set around the time of Season 6 of the television series, broadcast on ITV between September and December 1971.
Freewheelers: The Spy Game

by
Alan Fennell
Cover image: Freewheelers, The Spy Game, Piccolo Books (1972)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Piccolo Books
Publication Date 1972
Original Price 20p
ISBN 0330233785
Illustrator Alcazar

The Spy Game is an original novel featuring Colin, Mike, Steve and Ingrid Halver.

Back Cover Blurb
Hot on the heels of the last FREEWHEELERS adventure, here are Mike and Steve once more helping MI6 solve a highly secret and dangerous espionage mystery. The story starts with the sudden murder of a British agent in Sweden, and when a Soviet agent is also murdered things become more and more mysterious...

This gripping story ends with a battle in a lonely Swiss valley, fought with a new and horrifying secret weapon...
Notes
  • The Spy Game was the second of two original novels based on Freewheelers, both of which were written by Alan Fennell.
  • Despite being shown on the cover, the character of Jill (Caroline Ellis) doesn't feature in the book.