Really Lost Gems: The Adventures of Don Quick (1970)

Adapting the classics is something that science-fiction does a lot of. The Forbidden Planet is Shakespeare’s The Tempest, for example, while (if you squint a bit) Gene Rodenberry always claimed that Star Trek was based on the Hornblower books.

Cervantes’ Spanish-language classic The Adventures of Don Quixote doesn’t get a whole lot of adapting these days, but way back in 1970, ITV decided to do it as a science-fiction series called The Adventures of Don Quick. Starring Ian Hendry (the original star of The Avengers), this saw intergalactic maintenance man Don Quick, together with his second-in-command Sam Czopanzer (Ronald Lacey) – can you see what they did there? – travel from planet to planet each week. On landing, Quick would proceed to interfere with the way the planet was run, because he knew best.

The planets were varied – and symbolic. The Higher The Fewer sees a population that lives in 2,000 storey skyscrapers organised by class; The Love Reflector has a planet of beautiful women – and one six-inch male astronaut; and The Quick and The Dead sees Aphrodite, Hera and Zeus (Graham Crowden) saving Sam and Quick from a volcano.

Lasting all of six one-hour episodes, Don Quick saw guest stars including Roy Marsden, Leigh Lawson, Patricia Haines, Yutte Stensgard, Madeline Smith, Gay Soper, James Hayter, Kate O’Mara, Bryan Mosley, Colin Baker and Anouska Hempel. Mike Newell even directed an episode.

However, only one episode of the show survives and it’s not on YouTube, so I’m only going to be able to give you the theme tune, as preserved on the album “Top T.V. Soundtrack Themes”. Sorry about that – blame ITV.

  • Mark Carroll

    The premise doesn’t sound too bad.

  • SK

    Though a 1970 ITV space show could be terrible in all sorts of ways…
    It’s a pity it’s lost; it would be an interesting artefact if nothing else.
    Still, I love the way the theme tune keeps almost, but not quite, turning into a sci-fi version of Dallas.
    (You know, there must be scope for a contemporary Don Quixote adaptation… in modern-day America, a man with a tragic past who’s watched too much TV and gone slightly doo-lalley wanders the land, finding wrongs to right according to the logic of whatever genre of programme his mind happens to have latched onto that week…)