Disney Channel contracted the UK ITV broadcaster HTV Wales, part of Harlech Television Group, to produce the series, and it was shot in Wales, Spain, and Jamaica. It was written by John Goldsmith, and directed by Piers Haggard and Alex Kirby. HTV Wales had already produced other Robert Louis Stevenson books for television, namingly Kidnapped in 1979 and The Master of Ballantrae in 1984 and producer Patrick Dromgoole would go on to helm Treasure Island. Their expertise in making these productions was used when Disney chose to work with HTV to produce a series, in 10 parts.
The story begins 10 years after the original Treasure Island adventure. Jim Hawkins returns home to The Admiral Benbow Inn after graduating at Oxford University to a surprise party laid on by his mother, along with the old friends of Squire Trelawney, Dr Livesey, Captain Smollett, and Ben Gunn. At the same time, a small rowing boat is seen being beached at night with its only occupant, Long John Silver. Trelawney has, in fact, been communicating with Jim Hawkins during his time at Oxford and has appointed him agent to his plantations in Jamaica because of their failure to make any profits in the last year. When the announcement is made at the dinner table of his impending departure, Hawkins mother reels in shock, only to see the face of John Silver at the window. A search of the area reveals nothing but later that night, Silver appears in Jim Hawkins' bedroom and demands the map, at gunpoint. Hawkins thinks it's worthless, as it's mounted in a frame in the inn but in fact, there is a hoard of precious stones still buried on the island, worht four times more than the gold previously found. However, on going downstairs to fetch it, Silver's accomplices appear and want to burn the inn to the ground, with everybody inside, so as not to leave any clues as to what has happened. Silver changes sides, like he had done 10 years previously, to protect Jim but he is later caught and put on trial for piracy and murder and sentenced to death. Hawkins rides to London and gets the sentence commuted to transportation and both he and Silver, sail on the Saracen to the West Indies. On board he meets Dutchman Hans Van Der Brecken, Rev. Morgan, and the beautiful Isabella, daughter of the Grandee of Spain, and their adventures together begin.
During the voyage, Silver escapes from the irons he's been placed in to throw the sea cook overboard and claim the position for himself, thus giving him opportunity to stage a mutiny. He persuades the crew and other captives to commit mutiny and they take the ship, only to find that Hawkins and Van Der Brecken are against them. During parlez, Spaniards attack the ship and all have to fight together to try and save themselves. Silver takes Isabella hostage and manages to negotiate a long boat with Hawkins, Van Der Brecken, Morgan, and Isabella on board and they row away to safety. After many adventures, they eventually arrive on Jamaica, where Hawkins discovers, with the help of slave, Abed Jones, that the plantation manager, Joshua Hallows is defrauding Trelawney by selling mollasses on the black market. They also discover that he is in league with the Governor to steal the map of Treasure Island and claim the treasure that is left there. Many adventures follow which culminate in everybody converging on Treasure Island for a final battle.
The final close-ups of Long John Silver rowing away from Jim Hawkins' ship and revealing that he had stolen all the diamonds from the treasure casket (inside a secret compartment of his crutch) were filmed on the roof of HTV's Pontcanna Studio (since demolished) in Cardiff.
Music for the series was composed by Terry Oldfield and Tom McGuinness. Oldfield had produced work for the BBC previously as well as appearing on a number of his brother's Mike Oldfield records, playing the flute. The theme music was released on 7-inch single, though slightly different from the television version. Also included were two tracks on Side B, "Isabella" and "Island of Dreams". These were extended versions on the single of themes which re-occur throughout the series.
Video and DVD
The series was aired in 1986 and shortly afterwards, was released on video. However, the format was very much edited but later releases returned to the full ten-episode format. The series did not appear on DVD until fairly recently when Newtwork produced a three-disc set. It was not digitally reworked however, so it retains its original appearance.
- Brian Blessed as Long John Silver
- Christopher Guard as Jim Hawkins
- Reiner Schone as Hans Van Der Brecken
- Deborah Poplett as Lady Isabella
- Peter Lloyd as Abed Jones
- Kenneth Colley as Ben Gunn
- Dicken Ashworth as Gaines
- Donald Pickering as Joshua Hallows
- Artro Morris as Rev. Morgan
- Bruce Purchase as Squire Trelawney
- Peter Copley as Dr. Livesey
- Richard Beale as Capt. Alexander Smollett
- Morgan Shepherd as Sam Boakes
- Nick Brimble as Keelhaul
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