ACTION TV ONLINE EPISODE GUIDE
EPISODE GUIDE INDEX
Wings
BBC 1977 - 1978
SEASON ONE
The Volunteer
TX : 2nd January 1977
Director :
Peter Cregeen
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
When the great war began, flying was the dangerous hobby of wealthy sportsmen, and the general staff thought that flying machines were entirely useless as weapons of war. Many young men disagreed - those who saw their opportunity of learning to fly. In February 1915, commissioned officers and the sons of "the gentry" are finding it hard enough to be accepted for training as pilots in the Royal Flying Corps. So what possible chance has young Alan Farmer, the son of an Essex blacksmith?

Notes :
This season was transmitted from 7:25pm to 8:15pm on BBC 1.

Never Turn Back
TX : 9th January 1977
Director :
Jim Goddard
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
"If your engine fails on take-off, never turn back". Alan Farmer is all too aware of the error that caused his father to burn to death.


Welcome To France
TX : 16th January 1977
Director :
Gareth Davies
Script : Barry Thomas


Synopsis :
Alan joins the squadron in France, meeting an old friend and a new enemy - a Hun with a machine gun.

Business As Usual
TX : 23th January 1977
Director : Donald McWhinnie
Script : Arden Winch

Synopsis :
A general pays a visit to Saint Marie with a special task for "C" Flight …

Speaking From Experience
TX : 30th January 1977
Director : Jim Goddard
Script : Arden Winch

Synopsis :
. Beckett's Hill joins the war effort, while in Saint Marie "C" Flight springs into action under Captain Triggers.


Over The Top
TX : 6th February 1977
Director : Peter Cregeen
Script : Julian Bond

Time Out Of War
TX : 13th February 1977
Director : Jim Goddard
Script : Julian Bond

Synopsis :
A proposed trip to Blighty. Charles is delightful. But Alan is not looking forward to his promised meeting with Lorna.


The Hunters
TX : 20th February 1977
Director : Desmond Davies
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
The German plane armed with a machine gun has become more than troublesome. Alan and Charles decide to hunt "the hunters".


New Deal
TX : 27th February 1977
Director : Peter Cregeen
Script : Julian Bond

Synopsis :
A problem for Captain Triggers: how to shoot down a German kite balloon. And a problem for Alan: Kate is in Paris.


The Burning Question
TX : 6th March 1977
Director : Jim Goddard
Script : Arden Winch

Synopsis :
Captain Triggers is puzzled by his pilot reports. Why is a French plane shooting down British machines?


The Prisoner's Friend
TX : 13th March 1977
Director : Desmond Davies
Script : Arden Winch

Synopsis :
When Alex Farmer is accused of cowardice and faces a court marshal, Charles Gaylion decides to defend him.


Welcome Home
TX : 20th March 1977
Director : Peter Cregeen
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
Alan comes home on leave not to quite the reception he might have expected.


SEASON TWO
Forward Action
TX : 5th January 1978
Director : Peter Jefferies
Script : Barry Thomas


Cast : Stephen Riddle (Second Lieutenant Julian Cornblow), Simon Cadell (Major Colin McAdam), Roger Elliott (Sergeant Mills), Daniel Hill (Lieutenant Koch), Richard Wren (Lieutenant Stein), Paul Chapman (Major Lancing), Richard Mayes (The General) and John Dryden (Corporal Harris).

Publicity :
Winging Their Way - A slight flicker of emotion crosses the stiff upper lip, a white silk scarf flutters in the turbulence from the propeller and it's chocks away for the second series about the fighter pilots of the First World War. Here Bob Smyth meets the three actors who play our heroes: Nicholas Jones, tall and fair-haired, lounges in a chair trying to pretend the bleak Television Centre conference room is comfortable. "Why did they choose me? Because they wanted a short-dark-haired man". Captain Triggers, the part he plays, is seen by producer Peter Cregeen as having "a degree of unpredictability and latent aggression, but also vulnerability". Michael Cochrane as the upper-class Gaylion was a more straightforward selection. "They'd considered me for Colditz but hadn't used me. Anyway my name had been banging down on Peter's desk for quite a time, and this part was not far removed from the sort of work I've done a lot of". The choice of Tim Woodward as the sergeant pilot Alan Farmer shows how haphazard, if eventually successful, the casting process can be. "It was only a couple of weeks after we had rejected him for the part of Gaylion," says Peter, "that we realised we'd been seeing him for the wrong part". Tim enters in leather jacket and disorder, his motorbike having sprung a puncture. He lights a pipe and puffs Hulot fashion, head cocked to one side, sentences petering out, ending with a delightful grin. "In this new series Alan Farmer is more mature, less … what's the word?" "Ingenu?" suggests Michael, leaning forward and half-pleased, half-embarrassed to articulate the acting opportunities the new stories offer. "In the early days the fliers were schoolboys. Now they've been in the war for a year their characters have changed. This means more levels to explore as an actor, more to get your teeth into". All three actors went to public school and Tim admits he hated school and left early: "I've come to resent all the things it represented in the way Alan Farmer resents them - and perhaps more so than him". Nicholas went to Westminster and sees his time there as "something suppressed, but an experience I suppose I can call on when it's necessary in my work". Michael, from Cranleigh, agrees the ideals his school attempted to instill were similar to those that actuated Gaylion. "Chivalry? Perhaps, but I think it was more that you were trained to behave much more for other people than for yourself. You did things because it was expected of you rather than because you believed in it. You spent years being told that the team spirit was very important, but they never told you exactly what this meant". Perhaps partly because of their common school background the threesome are well coordinated off the set as well as on. Michael admits the series has made "an enormous difference" to his career and quotes interesting parts he would probably not otherwise have been offered. Tim says that things are "fairly quiet", but points out that filming the series is six months' full-time work, leaving no time for other engagements. "It hasn't made much difference. I was doing a lot of up-market television before," says Nicholas. "Like Thunderbirds and Crossroads," suggests Michael. Nicholas smiles thinly, looking remarkably like Captain Triggers, but laughs when Tim is asked if Alan Farmer is any more cheerful this series. "Not cheerful, but more confident in himself," says Tim. "More … you know what I mean". (Radio Times, December 30, 1977 - Article by Bob Smyth).

Synopsis :
Sergeant Alan Farmer's home leave ends just as his squadron in France are preparing for a very special visitor - the General Officer commanding the Flying Corps. Wings brings back to the screen those intrepid fliers of the First World War in a new series of adventures. Barry Thomas, author of tonight's first episode, outlines past and present in the lives of the leading characters: Alan Farmer - A Sussex blacksmith before he learned to fly, Sergeant Alan Farmer joined "C" Flight at Sainte Marie in May 1915. Having been court-martialled and found not guilty of cowardice, Alan is on leave in Beckett's Hill. His girlfriend, Lorna Collins, hopes that now Alan is home he will buy that long-promised engagement ring. Charles Gaylion: Lieutenant Charles Gaylion transferred from the cavalry to the Royal Flying Corps in the belief that "two wings in the air are rather more nippy than four hooves in the mud". But since the appearance of the new German monoplane with its deadly forward-firing gun, life has become much grimmer for RFC fliers and Charles is wondering if he might not have been better off in the cavalry. Captain Triggers: Captain Owen Triggers flew with one of the first RFC Squadrons in France in 1914. For a short time he went back to Blighty as an instructor and taught both Alan farmer and Charles Gaylion to fly. He returned to France as Flight-Commander of "C" Flight at Sainte Marie. A sweet-tempered man when he is not insanely angry about the superiority of the new German monoplane, or in a rage against the deaths of his comrades, or wanting to blast the blinkers off the General Staff.

Notes : This season was transmitted from 8:10pm to 9:00pm on BBC 1.

Zeppelin
TX : 12th January 1978
Director : John Sichel
Script : Gidley Wheeler


Synopsis :
Special Flight are ordered to bomb a Zeppelin base. Alan Farmer has other ideas.


Unknown
TX : 19th January 1978
Director : Peter Jefferies
Script : Julian Bond


Transfer
TX : 26th January 1978
Director : John Sichel
Script : Julian Bond

Synopsis :
The punishment for cowardice is death. Captain Triggers is forced to act when one of his pilots loses his nerve.


Stunt - Or Die?
TX : 5th February 1978
Director : Peter Jefferies
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
Posted back to England, Charles Gaylion meets new hazards.


Dawn Attacks
TX : 12th February 1978
Director : John Sichel
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
Special Flight has become a threat to the superior enemy monoplane and the German pilots plan a dawn attack on Saint Marie.


Machine Gun Post
TX : 19th February 1978
Director : Peter Jefferies
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
What are Charles and Lorna to tell Alan when he arrives home on leave expecting to be married?.


Officers And Gentlemen
TX : 26th February 1978
Director : John Sichel
Script : Arden Winch

Cast : Edward Harwicke (Colonel Ross).

Synopsis :
Sergeant Farmer is recommended for a commission, but killing an unarmed man is hardly the conduct expected of an officer and a gentleman.


Guardian Angel
TX : 2nd March 1978
Director : Peter Cregeen
Script : Arden Winch


Synopsis :
An American stuntman has invented a parachute to be used by AFC pilots. But does it really work?

The Prize
TX : 9th March 1978
Director : John Sichel
Script : Arden Winch


Synopsis :
Captain Triggers is given the chance to design a new fighter that can save his pilots lives. But he must relinquish his command of Special Flight.


Mutiny
TX : 16th March 1978
Director : Peter Cregeen
Script : Julian Bond

Synopsis :
The pilots of Special Flight find themselves in an extraordinary dilemma when their airfield is raided by British infantry
.

No Medals
TX : 23rd March 1978
Director : Peter Jefferies
Script : Gidley Wheeler

Synopsis :
Hostility leads to tragedy when Captain Triggers and his flight come under the command of a much decorated French "ace" pilot
.

Heroes
TX : 30th March 1978
Director : Peter Jefferies
Script : Barry Thomas

Synopsis :
Lorna receives a proposal of marriage and "C" Flight loses its commanding officer
.

 



The 1970s, which had opened for BBC Television with The Regiment, drew to a close with Wings, another war-time drama production which this time took as its premise the Special Flight "C" Division of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).



The series, devised and created by Barry Thomas, featured Tim Woodward as Alan Farmer, a young working-class man who had surprisingly entered the RFC as a fighter pilot against his expectations, Nicholas Jones as Captain Owen Triggers, his teacher and mentor, and Michael Cochrane as Charles Gaylion, an upper-class "gentry" type who became Farmer's closest friend - even to the extent of starting a relationship with his girlfriend, Lorna Collins (Sarah Porter) when Alan was believed dead having been shot down over France.



The series, which owed a great deal of its content and the visualisation of said content to Biggles-style adventures, portrayed a more gentlemanly side to the First World War before dogfights in the air became the order of the day. These were the formative years of flying machines, and pilots were in awed admiration that their crafts got into the air, took them where they were assigned to go, and got them home without breaking down.

Like Colditz, the programme relied on the camaraderie between serving officers, and storylines were as much about how much they could rely on each other as how they could betray one another in the belief that colleagues had been killed.

The second series in January 1978 would prove more popular as the characters had been firmly "bedded-in" and the programme was able to tell stories without the trappings of introductions. The series, produced by Peter Cregeen, was hailed for its authenticity and the filmed inserts of aerial footage perhaps contributed to this consensus.

Scripts were contributed from creator Barry Thomas, Arden Winch and Julian Bond, whilst directors included Jim Goddard and John Sichel. The programme was retained in the BBC archives, but never commercially exploited in terms of either a DVD or VHS release. Tie-in novelisations written by Barry Thomas are the sole merchandise available for this series.


Characters
Portrayed By
Alan Farmer
Tim Woodward
Molly Farmer
Anne Kristen
Harry Farmer
John Hallam
Charles Gaylion
Michael Cochrane
Kate Gaylion
Celia Bannerman
Captain Triggers
Nicholas Jones
Lorna Collins
Sarah Porter
Lieutenant Bravington
David Troughton
Tom
Reg Lye

The series was created by Barry Thomas. The series was produced by Peter Cregeen.

Text © Matthew Lee, 2005.