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Biggles: Adventures Through Time

Alexander Armstrong explores the lasting appeal of action hero Biggles and examines the life of his creator, Captain WE Johns.

Captain James Bigglesworth could easily have been found in any Royal Flying Corps mess during the grand days of 1917 and 1918 when air combat had become the order of the day and air duelling was a fine art. The 'spirit' of Biggles still exists today, and his influence and impact can be seen on screen, music and in numerous comic parodies. Biggles memorabilia is much sought after by collectors, who bid thousands of pounds on internet auction sites.

His adventures through time total almost 100 books, which have seen him journey through two world wars, finally ending with the Special Air Police. He first took to the skies in 1916 in his FE2 'pusher' and made his final descent, 50 years later, in a Hawker Hunter.

Armstrong examines Biggles' origins and how the character contrasts with that of his creator. He reveals why the Biggles books were also surprisingly enjoyed by women, considering their negative portrayal in them. He also considers whether some of Biggles' stories, with their perceived imperialist and alleged racist content, are still acceptable reading in public libraries and schools today.

With readings by Geoffrey Wheeler the programme is written and produced by Stephen Garner

Release date:

33 minutes

Last on

Sun 2 Jan 2011 00:15