World War Two, Mirams was a newsreel cameraman and war correspondent, and later he became
quite convinced that the war could provide an excellent setting for film drama. Although
well known as a producer of childrens television drama, Mirams did attempt a war
series in 1959, The Coastwatchers, which was semi-documentary in nature. It focused
on the important role of Australians in hiding as coastwatchers in New Guinea,
radioing information back to Australia concerning Japanese movements. The concept never
ventured beyond the pilot stage.
Spyforce was a wartime
espionage adventure series produced by Roger Mirams. Unlike cliched American war films,
most of which give the impression that the United States was the only country capable of
saving the free world, Spyforce gives due recognition to the role Australia played
while also avoiding formula battle stories.
Mirams went on to
produce several children's series, including The Terrible Ten, The Magic
Boomerang and Adventures Of The Seaspray. Mirams worked with scriptwriter Ron
McLean on another children's series, Woobinda (Animal Doctor), and the two kept in
contact. In 1970 Mirams showed McLean a concept called Sparrowforce and said
he felt sure the time was right to do a Second World War story.
production giant Paramount Pictures were interested in the concept and, without seeing a
script, gave Mirams the go-ahead to make a pilot. Mirams and McLean pooled their resources
and made a pilot in November 1970 with a working title of Spy Catcher. The
series became a co-production between Roger Mirams and Paramount Pictures, who were
apparently quite impressed, and it was sold locally to the Nine Network. With an eye on
world markets, the series was filmed in colour, Paramount picking up the overseas
Mirams as Producer of the series, Ron McLean as Associate Producer and Bruce Gordon (later
owner of the WIN-TV network) as Paramount Production Executive, with the series devised by
Mirams, McLean and Brian Wright. McLean wrote most of the scripts (35), others being
contributed by Peter Schreck (3), Ralph Petersen (2) and Terry Bourke and Ted Roberts (1
each). David Baker and Howard Rubie directed most of the episodes (14 and 18 respectively,
plus 3 jointly), with Ron Way (5) and Terry Bourke (2) handling the remainder.
the well-trodden path of Hollywood war epics. "It will show that the war was not
entirely won by America," said Mirams. Spyforce concerns a special group of
operatives working for Australian Intelligence, operating from a top secret headquarters
in Sydney. Mirams pointed out that the series would not dwell on the torture of captured
soldiers by the Japanese, nor would it paint the Australians as lily white.1
The premise of the
series is based on fact, as the opening narrative explains:
Early in 1942 the
Japanese Army swept through the South Pacific towards the Australian mainland. They
overran the Malay Peninsula and reached deep into the jungles of New Guinea. As a result
numbers of civilian planters and soldiers were formed into highly trained espionage teams
by Allied Headquarters in Australia. These men were directed into sabotage operations deep
behind enemy lines throughout the Pacific area. Much of their work must remain top secret.
One of these groups may well have been called: Spyforce.
Initially 26 episodes
were produced. Following talks in Honolulu in September 1971 between Mirams, the Nine
Network and Paramount, concerning U.S. distribution of the series, it was decided to go
ahead with a second series, making a total of 42 episodes.
Jack Thompson, in his
first lead role, played the part of Erskine, an Australian planter who was living in New
Guinea. Erskine is a boozing, wenching, dont-give-a-damn type, to whom social rank
matters little, and he accepts people for who they are. He was forced to flee by the
advancing Japanese, and resents the fact that the Army were not able to stop the enemy
before they got to his plantation. Thompson previously had a role in ATN-7s soap
opera Motel, and Mirams selected him for Spyforce after seeing him in a
guest role as Lenny the stockman in Woobinda (Animal Doctor).
Peter Sumner plays
Gunther Haber, an erudite, cultured German, who had been interned in
Australia. Like Erskine, Haber
also owned a plantation in New Britain which he was forced to abandon ahead of the
Japanese. Sumner had to adopt an appropriate accent for the role - actors with genuine
German or Austrian accents were auditioned, but Sumner was chosen for his acting ability.
portrays Colonel Cato, head of a special intelligence unit which is responsible only to
the Prime Minister (the unit is never referred to by name). Cato is ruthless, calculating,
and an excellent strategist with a gifted insight into situations.
Catos secretary is
Lieutenant French, played by Katy Wild, whose pleasant looks and wide
range of expressions
make her perfect for the role. A petite 155cm (5 ft. 1 in.), Katy admitted
to placing telephone books on her chair for scenes where she was seated at
her desk. Lt. Frenchs part is usually limited to the office,
but she does venture out into the field on various assignments. French has a subtle
attraction to Erskine, however, despite Erskines wenching ways, their friendship is
based on mutual respect and remains platonic. Katy previously had the role of Jenny
Hamilton in the 0-Ten comedy series Good Morning, Mr. Doubleday. Prior to that she
worked in England, where, among other things, she made guest appearances in The
Avengers, Softly Softly Task Force and Z Cars.
development is pivotal in Spyforce. In pre-war days Erskine and Haber had both been
in love with the same girl, and they dislike each other intensely. This evolves into a
grudging mutual admiration, and later to friendship. They are both civilians who work for
the Army reluctantly, being coerced by Colonel Cato because of their knowledge of the
Pacific Islands. To ensure their co-operation, Cato fabricated damning evidence blaming
them for an island massacre.
Gunther Haber is the
only character of the four leads who is given a Christian name. He is nick-named
Adolf by Erskine, in a derogatory sense at first as Erskine
finds it difficult to trust him, but later used with
Sumner stated that an
aspect of Spyforce he liked is that they could lose as often as they could win:
"It is by no means predictable. We get as far away as possible from the cardboard
cut-out stereotypes. Erskine and Haber are seen to have human failings, and there is a
streak of dishonesty in both of them and a bit of the rogue."2
"Its a series in which the characters are the most important factor. The
scripts have surprises, of course, and action - but the series will stand or fall on the
publics interest in the characters."3
Mirams believed they
had a winning team in Jack Thompson and Peter Sumner: "They are a good contrast and
play off against one another marvellously well." Thompson had some reservations about
the restrictions placed on the show because of the potential American market: "The
Americans are dead scared of words like bloody and bastard on
television, and weve had to adjust our colloquialisms for the U.S. market. But can
you imagine a rough-hewn, paranoid Australian who wouldnt say bloody at
least a few times?"4
David Baker, one
of the directors on the series, commented on Peter Sumners accent: "I think he
might have overdone the accent a bit in the beginning. I remember one scene in New Guinea
when Peter and a young girl playing a German Lutheran nun delivered their lines with stage
accents. But overall I think Peter plays the part with realism."5
Bill Hunter had a
support role as Captain Pollock in 15 episodes. He appeared in all but one of the first 11
episodes, and was then seen infrequently until his final appearance in episode 31. For
this role Hunter received a major credit in the original opening titles. His place was
taken by Stuart Finch as Captain Bergen, who appeared in only four episodes.
Max Cullen also
received a major credit on the original opening, which was used on 26 episodes. Like Bill
Hunter, Cullen shared equal billing with regulars Katy Wild and Redmond Philips, but his
character of Barrow, a criminal psychopath whom Cato uses for interrogation, was only
featured in two early episodes.
made occasional appearances as Jill Stewart, an undercover agent who could be disguised as
anything from a schoolteacher to a native girl. She grew up in Burma, makes contacts with
agents in places such as New Guinea, speaks five languages and is very capable with a gun.
Arna-Maria was credited as a regular cast member in publicity releases, but in fact only
appeared in three episodes.
Nick Tate as Matt Parsons was
another operative appearing from time to time. Some reference works6 claim that Nick Tate replaced Jack Thompson in the final
episodes. This is not the case - Tate played Parsons in only three episodes (one of which
was a very minor part in a single scene), and Thompson stayed with the series until the end.
Consideration was given to making Tate's role a regular part, but nothing
eventuated from the idea.
Every so often,
particularly in later episodes, one of the regular cast members was not
featured for some reason or other. Sometimes a part
was obviously written for them and played by someone else, perhaps due to illness or some
technical problem; at other times the script simply did not require the character.
Japanese ‘army’ was made up of mainly Asian students from universities in
Sydney. As it happened, almost every Asian nationality except Japan was
represented in their ranks, but they filled the bill adequately. The
students indulged in friendly rivalry, boasting how many times they had
‘died’ during filming.
"To Westerners, all Japanese look alike," explained Roger Mirams. "We keep
killing the same ones over and over and nobody knows the difference."
The theme tune was a
modified version of Waltzing Matilda, which also assumed various forms as
incidental music. Original music for the series was by Brian Rangott and Geoff Harvey.
featured some location work in New Guinea, and two complete episodes were filmed there.
Early in the piece the cast and crew travelled to Singapore, Macao, Thailand, Hong Kong
and other Asian countries for a four-to-five week location shoot, to obtain background
filming that would be worked into episodes later. One scene was even filmed at the
infamous Changi prison, where, after several hours of negotiation, the Governor was
persuaded to raise the Japanese flag for the first time since the war. Other scenes were
filmed in Thailand, where an attempt to blow up a bridge was supervised by the Thai Army.
scenes were filmed in the older parts of inner Sydney, but most of the
series was filmed in the bushland at Narrabeen, an outer northern suburb of Sydney,
pretending it was the jungles of New Guinea. Sometimes this was made not so apparent by
tying paper flowers on the bushes to resemble some exotic tropical flora, or by blending
the scenes with film shot in jungles near Bangkok. At other times it looked like nothing
other than Australian bush, such as the episode set near Japan which clearly showed gum
trees in the background.
The location satisfied
all the production requirements - it was close to water, had lush rain forest, thick
scrub, palm trees, clearings and swamps. A production office was set up in a big old house
on the edge of Narrabeen Lake, which was also used for interior scenes. The grounds were
littered with palm leaf huts, 1940s cars and trucks, and a mock-up of a Catalina
flying-boat. Even a replica of the Burma-Siam railway was constructed on the site.
such as a machine gun, rifles and uniforms were flown in from Hollywood, courtesy of
Paramount. Australian items were made up from research or borrowed from old Army stores.
The local residents
soon got used to hearing gunfire and seeing soldiers charging round about the lakes. A bit
of a stir was caused when some locals found live charges from one of the many explosions
being filmed, but a promise of stricter supervision and a preview of the series soon
placated local officials.
A big talking-point for
the residents was the mock-up of an Australian wartime submarine, constructed from wood,
fibreglass and metal. Although not built exactly to scale it could look pretty convincing.
It had two outboard motors concealed at the stern to enable it to sail to the various
'battles' - at approximately three knots. The story is told of a phone call Roger Mirams
received one day from the Department of the Navy in Canberra: "We have been told that
there is a submarine in Narrabeen Lake," said the official, "and that you might
be able to shed some light on this matter!"
shortcuts were commonplace on Spyforce. A set at their Narrabeen headquarters
became the inside of a Catalina aircraft, inter-cut with wartime exterior shots; similar
wartime footage was used to base a story around the attempted sabotage of the Queen
Mary, and the blowing up of various bridges. A shot of a Japanese pilot in the
cockpit of his plane was achieved by an angled close-up of an actor on the lake shore, who
was seated on an old crate underneath a window frame propped up by two bedsteads and some driftwood.
Old war-time footage
ranging from military subjects to street scenes of Sydney was often inter-cut with new film
to enhance the period effect. Day for night filming, in which night scenes are
filmed in daylight using special filters, was also used extensively.
were re-written on the spot during filming. One scene, which featured Erskine and Haber
pinned down in a bunker by enemy shells, was entirely improvised by the two actors.
"It emerged as a very real scene," said Sumner, "and, I think, illustrates
the rapport which Jack and I have achieved."8
necessary due to the degree to which the production was underfinanced. As with his earlier series Adventures
Of The Seaspray, Mirams could only provide money for the pilot. Each episode cost
approximately $23,000 for a return of only $18,000, which over 42 episodes amounted to a
loss of almost a quarter of a million dollars. At one stage cash flow became so tight that
Thompson and Sumner went on strike until they got paid.
To cover his debts
Mirams sold his rights in the series to Paramount Pictures. Consequently, Mirams made
nothing from the show despite excellent overseas sales.
Spyforce was scheduled
to premiere in Melbourne on July 23, 1971, and finally made its debut on August 26.
Sydney viewers saw the series earlier in August, and in Brisbane the
series premiered the following month. Adelaide viewers, however, had to
wait until 1975 - after the introduction of colour television - before the
series was finally screened. Critics gave Spyforce a mixed reception - most liked it, although
they had some reservations about the first episode, citing a patchy script and stilted
dialogue. Other critics brought up issues of authenticity, although they couldnt
agree on them. Veritas in Truth maintained the Japanese soldiers
didnt look Japanese;9 the Listener In-TV critic thought they did.10 Most critics agreed that the series had settled down by the
second episode and were predicting its success.
Authenticity was a
slight problem. The critics didnt notice in the first episode, as it was screened
here in black and white, that the Japanese officers uniforms were the wrong colour.
Wardrobe man Ron Williams freely admitted they should have been khaki, not grey. He added
that if viewers thought the boots worn by the Japanese troops looked like they came from
an Army Disposals store, they were right - there simply was not enough money to fly in
Japanese boots, especially not knowing the size of the actors feet.
Director David Baker responded
to allegations of lack of authenticity: "I think that the series depicts the 1942
wartime period realistically. Its difficult to find locations which express Sydney
and Melbourne as they were then. Australia during the past 30 years has changed much more
than we realise. It is quite probable that we might have made a few slip ups with regard
to medals on uniforms. But we have always tried to be faithful to the period."11 For the most part they got it right,
and the series faithfully replicated the wartime era - although in some Sydney
scenes television aerials were quite visible on houses in the background!
There was action
aplenty in Spyforce, and spectacular explosions were commonplace, the largest of
which rattled the windows of houses half a mile away. Jack Thompson commented that the
going was tough: "Peter Sumner and I went through hell making the series. Producer
Roger Mirams, to give the series authenticity, made us wade through muddy swamps, scale
cliffs and fight our way through the tangled undergrowth of jungles."12
The first episode was
also the pilot, evidence of its orphan status being the different lettering style on the
title, and the reference in the script to the working title spy catchers. Like
most openers, it introduces all the characters and explains the circumstances that bring
them together. For the next five episodes Erskine and Haber actively dislike each other,
and Cato uses many devious methods to persuade them to go on missions. After
that they are resigned to working for Cato, and grow to tolerate and trust each other.
guest actors of note appeared in the series, in well-drawn character roles. More memorable
examples include Ewan Solon as a German General in 27 Hours (ep. 8); Peter
Whittle as the surviving member of an artillery unit in The Gunner (ep. 15);
Judy Lynne as a nursing sister in The Mission (ep. 37); Johnny Lockwood as an
island merchant in The Trader (ep. 6); and John Meillon as a drunken
explosives expert in The Raiders (ep. 32) and a cowardly engineer in
Death Railway (ep. 2).
gave a fine performance as an Australian in New Guinea waging his own private war in
Reilleys Army (ep. 20), which was his last professional role before he
passed away. Maori actor Kuki Kaa appeared regularly as a Japanese soldier, playing
various roles in several episodes. Perhaps his best performance was as a Japanese
politician in The Diplomat (ep. 26).
Other guest actors of
note included Helen Morse, Kirrily Nolan, Serge Lazareff, John Bonney, John
Fegan, Rowena Wallace, John Hargreaves and Buster Fiddess. Scriptwriter Ron McLean stepped
in front of the cameras as an extra, and Producer Roger Mirams played the non-speaking
role of a German assassin in The Countess (episode 11).
Winchester was at the centre of some controversy concerning two nude scenes. In The
Trader (episode 6), she is seen topless taking a shower, and the scene was almost
deleted for fear of offending viewers. There was much deliberation on whether it should be
included in the episode, and it was finally decided that it was too good to be deleted,
although Channel Nine requested that it be trimmed of the more daring segments. TV Week
spoke to Arna-Maria, who expressed amazement that any of the episode should be
censored: "I cant really understand what would have been offensive," she
said. "There was a shower scene, but I understood it was taken out during editing of
the episode. It was quite inoffensive."13
second nude scene was in episode 23, The Major, which showed her climbing into
a bathtub. Although it was only a fleeting glimpse, it was quite unnecessary, and was in
fact edited out of some copies with no detrimental effect on the story at all.
Episodes 7 & 8,
The Escape and 27 Hours, was a two-part story, structured
so that each episode could stand alone. The Escape comes to a logical
conclusion within itself, and anyone viewing 27 Hours without seeing The
Escape would not know it was the second part of a two-part story. The latter episode
features some excellent character exploration when Habers loyalties are tested and
Erskine is forced to trust a German prisoner.
Ep 9 & 10,
The Volunteers, was a proper two-parter. It was based on the true story of a
daring Allied raid on shipping in Singapore Harbour, which in 1989 formed the basis of the
mini-series Heroes. Some ocean footage in the episode was strongly reminiscent of
Mirams earlier production Adventures Of The Seaspray.
Cripple (ep. 12), Erskine is recovering from a serious injury, and is glad to see
Haber when he pays a visit. Erskine calls him Gunther for the first time, causing Haber to
ask, "Whatever happened to Adolf?" The two had become friends, and although
Erskine continued to call Haber Adolf, it was no longer out of malice.
(ep. 19) cemented the friendship between the two, when Erskine risked his life to save
Haber, who had been injured by enemy fire. Character development is taken to a new height
when they are forced to spend Christmas Eve in a bunker with two Japanese soldiers, and
come to regard them as people rather than the enemy.
Reilleys Army, saw running order thrown out the window when Nine
substituted it in place of episode four due to the death of Chips Rafferty,
who had the lead guest role in the episode. As the
series progressed the screening order became more and more erratic, making the character
development almost impossible to follow.
New opening titles
were introduced with the second series, changing the theme tune, dropping the narrative
and using new red graphics on a black background. Stencil-type lettering was introduced,
however the closing credits retained the original music and footage.
A different commercial integration was also introduced at the same
time - on all episodes the commercial integration was optional, various
prints included or excluded them so that television stations could choose
according to their requirements. The new opening was
much shorter and had more impact, and some prints of earlier episodes were modified to include the new opening, which
confused the fans no end when trying to sort out the correct running order.
(The running order [the sequence the episodes are intended to be viewed] differed
considerably from the production order [the sequence the episodes were made], and
bore no resemblance at all to the screening order [the dogs
breakfast sequence in which the episodes were aired]).
The original stock
opening boasted location filming in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Ceylon, Australia, New
Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand, and acknowledged the assistance of the Royal Australian Air
Force, the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Military Forces, Fiji Military Forces, the
NSW police and Qantas. The new opening simplified the filming locations to Australia and the South
Pacific, and acknowledged only the RAAF, RAN, AMF and Qantas.
Episode 27, The
District Commissioner, was filmed almost entirely in New Guinea. The people of the Asaro District were used extensively as extras, for which they received a
major credit. One local, Martin Nolo, who had never even seen a television before, proved
to be such a natural that an extensive part was written for him. The rugged New Guinea
scenery together with the natives in full tribal dress made for some excellent footage;
unfortunately too much was included, which tended to bog down the pace of the episode.
Another nude scene made
headlines, this time featuring former Contrabandits regular Janet Kingsbury in
episode 34, The Correspondent. TV Week described the topless scene as
daring, which it wasnt - it was much too brief and out of focus to
warrant such a description. Janet said of the scene: "Director Ron Way asked me if I
would be willing to appear in an episode of Spyforce involving a nude scene and I
had no hesitation in saying yes. I must admit I was a little nervous - it was my first
nude scene, but everyone was ordinary about it."14
In the episode Janet
played a Lieutenant who let slip secrets to a war correspondent after being plied with
liquor. It was written by Ralph Petersen (previously a writer and Producer of the McGooley
series) who, like Roger Mirams, was a war correspondent himself. Mirams
could relate to the script: "I
know how ruthlessly some of the correspondents went about getting stories."15
(ep. 41) was another episode filmed mostly in New Guinea. Set on the famous Kokoda Track
during the wet season, the cast had to endure fairly harsh conditions during the ten day
shoot. The Army co-operated in filming of the episode - most of the time the actors were
in wet clothes from the rain, and when it wasnt raining the Army would douse actors
with fire hoses during filming. The Army also helped by constructing a field hospital for
use in the filming. The episode was originally titled The Angels,
a reference to
the New Guinea locals who brought wounded soldiers out of the jungles, and were dubbed the
fuzzy-wuzzy angels because of their heroism.
Former Miss World Anne
Sidney, who had a guest role in the episode along with former Long Arm regular
Lyndall Moor, said of the New Guinea trip: "I had a fabulous time. It was the monsoon
season and we seemed to be drowned in water most of the time. I loved seeing all the
different tribes and hearing about the history of the Kokoda trail from Ron McLean, who
wrote the story."16
Production of Spyforce
had finished by March 1972 when the 41st episode was completed. Filming then commenced on
what was to become the 42nd and final episode, The Rolls That Went To War,
which was actually the pilot for a new series. A spin-off from Spyforce, The
Rolls That Went To War was intended to be a lighter, more humorous war-time
Jack Thompson was
cast in one of the lead roles, together with Anne Sidney, Max Cullen, Marilyn Mayo, Tony
Wager, Tina Cornioley and Don Barkham. Peter Sumner, Katy Wild and Redmond Philips would
not be appearing in the spin-off. Roger Mirams explained one of the reasons for making the
new series was that ratings showed Spyforce did not have a consistent appeal for
women viewers: "Thats why we decided to reduce the heavy drama for the new
programme, play it in a lighter vein and use more women."17
The Rolls that
Went To War is about a group of Allied officers and nurses whose aircraft is forced
down in a remote part of Malaya. They set up residence in an old mansion that they stumble
across deep in the jungle, left as is when the owners fled from the advancing Japanese.
The name for the series refers to an old Rolls Royce which is found in the mansions
garage, to which they fit a machine gun for use as an armoured car to thwart the Japanese.
Jack Thompson, as
Erskine, becomes involved with the group when one of their number finds him washed up on a
beach after his plane is shot down. Erskine calls himself Jack Weston, and the characters
of Haber, French and Cato are not referred to at all. Erskine is on a mission and enlists
the help of the stranded group, who for the most part are enjoying the good
life they have found and are reluctant to leave. The episode ends with Allied Intelligence
ordering them all, including Erskine, to stay where they are and carry on their campaign
of harassing the enemy, thus providing the transition between Spyforce and the
proposed new series. The lack of references to Erskines past meant the episode could
stand alone as the first of a new series, and would not require viewers to be familiar
A major hurdle to
overcome was finding the main prop - a vintage Rolls Royce. The problem was solved when
Mirams was informed about a Rolls enthusiast, George Sevenoaks, who had been dealing with
the cars for years. Sevenoaks provided a suitable vehicle for filming: "I thought it
was all a bit strange at first, but they convinced me. The arrangement we came to is that
I will do most of the driving - that way I can keep my eye on her."18
The Rolls That
Went To War never got beyond the pilot stage, and consequently ended up becoming the
final Spyforce episode. It featured a completely different opening, with different
theme music, but retained the stencil-type lettering on the title and episode credits.
was not a runaway success, but by no means was it a failure. The show improved as it went
on - the episodes became tighter and faster, and the directing proved more imaginative.
The lead cast gave excellent performances, and the special effects got better - all
testimony to the short-cuts and improvisation which the series is legendary for.
was badly programmed by the Nine Network. It underwent many timeslot changes, and the
erratic screening order made a nonsense of the character development. Surveys showed that
while men and children enjoyed the series, apparently it did not interest women. Peter
Sumner also felt that its emphasis may have been wrong: "The producers were trying to
get a documentary feel about it and it didnt work as well as everybody thought it
would. The times we got the most reaction was when Jack Thompson and I had to play it for
laughs. We should have done that more often."19
Sumner also stated that if the
series did not end he probably would have left anyway: "I dont like doing any
acting job in which you find yourself starting to get typed."20 And that was beginning to happen - he had been offered parts in
other series which called for a German accent, and played a German in two
episodes of The Lost Islands, a 1976 Roger Mirams produced series.
Jack Thompson summed up
the series for TV Week: "There hasnt been a lot of money to play with,
and sometimes weve had to make do with equipment which was inadequate. But the point
is that we all knuckled down and got it done. We got it done because we cared. We got it
done because we believed in what we were doing. I think weve proved something with Spyforce
- weve proved that we can turn out a good product working in a tough
well overseas, including Britain, America and South-East Asia. In Yugoslavia it was the
second most popular show, and Katy Wild became the pin-up girl of male viewers. Even
Germany and Japan bought the series Germany bought only the
episodes showing the Japanese as the enemy, and Japan bought only those
episodes in which the Germans were the enemy!
Roger Mirams and Ron
McLean later teamed up again to produce the police doctor series Silent Number, and
individually worked on a number of projects for the Grundy Organisation. The cast moved on
to a variety of television and film work, Jack Thompson in particular becoming well-known
for his film roles. Katy Wild appeared in Our Man In Canberra / Our Man In The Company
and Peter Sumner worked as an actor, writer and director on many films and television
series, including Certain Women and Trial By Marriage.
Spyforce has been repeated many times, and episodes are still
likely to be screened at ridiculous times in the early hours of the
morning, albeit wildly out of sequence. The complete series was released
on DVD in April 2013.
1. TV Week, Aug 7, 1971.
2. Melbourne Listener In-TV, July 31, 1971.
4. Melbourne Listener In-TV, July 31, 1971.
5. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Jan 29, 1972.
6. Albert Moran, Morans Guide To Australian TV Series, (Australian Film Television
& Radio School 1993), p.433 (this work contains many errors); Tony Harrison, The
Australian Film And Television Companion, (Simon & Schuster, Sydney 1994), p.321 (this
work often perpetuates errors made by Moran).
7. TV Times, Aug 28, 1971
8. Melbourne Listener In-TV, July 31, 1971.
9. Veritas, Melbourne Truth, Sept 4, 1971.
10. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Sept 4, 1971.
11. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Jan 29, 1972.
12. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Sept 25, 1971.
13. TV Week, Aug 28, 1971.
14. TV Week, Dec 11, 1971.
16. TV Week, Jan 29, 1972.
17. TV Week, March 18, 1972.
18. TV Week, April 15, 1972.
19. TV Week, May 13, 1972.
21. TV Week, Sept 11, 1971.
Sumner as Gunther Haber and Jack Thompson as Erskine.
A publicity shot of Peter
Sumner, Jack Thompson and Katy Wild.
The original Spyforce
Jack Thompson and Peter
Redmond Philips as Col. Cato.
Katy Wild as Lt. French and Redmond
Philips as Col. Cato.
Producer Roger Mirams (centre), with Peter Sumner and Jack
A scene from The Diplomat
(ep. 26). With Peter Sumner (centre) are Kuki Kaa (back to camera), Shito Shega (left) and
I. Sujimoto or I. Shimotu (right) - his name was spelt differently on both episodes he
appeared in. (Guest actor credits were usually incomplete and often contained spelling
Spectacular explosions and location
filming were commonplace, balanced by ingenious improvisation and shortcuts.
Jack Thompson as Erskine and Peter
Sumner as Gunther Haber.
Filming ep. 2, Death Railway,
at Narrabeen, recreating the construction of the Burma-Siam railway. The director is seated between the rails,
with actors (l to r) Kuki Kaa, John Meillon, Peter Sumner, Martin Vaughan and Jack
Katy Wild as Lt. French.
Filming a scene on board the mock-up
submarine, which was constructed of wood, metal and fibreglass. It was fitted with two
outboard motors to enable it to sail to various battle zones around Narrabeen
Redmond Philips as Col. Cato.
Peter Sumner, Richard Lupino and Jack
Thompson in a scene from episode 25, The Chase.
Peter Sumner and Jack Thompson in a
scene from episode 6, The Trader.
Jack Thompson was greeted by local tribesmen when he arrived to
film episodes in New Guinea.
Episode 20, Reilleys Army, was
Chips Raffertys final role. He is seen here with Jack Thompson.
Arna-Maria Winchester appeared in three
episodes in a support role as Jill Stewart.
John Meillon and Peter Sumner in a
scene from episode 32, The Raiders.
Jack Thompson as Erskine.
Second series opening titles.
Above: How viewers saw a scene
of a Japanese pilot in the cockpit of his Zero fighter. Below: How it was done - a canopy
propped up by a piece of driftwood, two bedsteads and some wire. The pilot is seated on an
old crate, his hands gripping a non-existent joystick.
Lyndall Moor (left) and Anne
Sidney, with an Army officer dousing the rest of the cast in water, during filming of 'The Trail (ep. 41). Segments
were filmed in New Guinea.
A scene from the pilot episode of
The Rolls That Went To War. Kuki Kaa and Jack Thompson ride the vintage Rolls
Royce that was to form the basis of a spin-off series.
Jack Thompson with Tina Cornioley (left)
and Anne Sidney in The Rolls That Went To War.
Peter Sumner as Gunther Haber
roughing up a Japanese soldier.
Spyforce advertisements that appeared
in magazine programme guides.