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DAVID FLAME

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Full Name: David Flame
Nationality: British
Organization: British Foreign Office
Occupation Adventurer

Creator: Eric Leyland
Time Span: 1949 - 1959

ABOUT THE SERIES

David Flame is an adventurer.

It might be more accurate to label him as a traveling vigilante. As we are told in one of the televised adventures, "Flame's playground is the world. His diet? Adventure. His main aim in life? To bring to justice all those who abuse it."

In one of the blurbs for a printed escapade, we are told that "David Flame was always quick off the mark - he needed to be, very often to keep alive, in the strange profession which was his. When you spend your life fighting the crooked and the ungodly, on their own ground and with their own weapons, you can't afford to take much time off to think or to act. Flame had learnt this golden rule long since..."

An early one of these outings of his lets us know that "David Flame, aged twenty-eight, as tough as they come, as brown as a berry - for he had known the suns of the tropics-could think fast, could act fast . . . and possessed an instinct: an instinct for danger, for trouble. He and his pals called trouble fun; but whatever you call it, David had an instinct for it."

When we meet him initially, he is a civil engineer by profession and he has a contract to build a railway in a South American nation. It is while working there that his inclination to get involved in matters far afield from his day job comes out. He is particularly incensed at the cruelty and injustice he found in that small country's dictator. He would later find a reason to return to that continent to help a friend and in so doing, take up against that leader.

After that, he seems to go where he is asked to help out or offers to help when he happens to be somewhere there is trouble brewing. Either way, he and his two close friends find a lot of danger and excitement and a chance to defy the odds.

Those two friends are:
Tony Carstairs, 19 years old and initially an intern engineer working as Flame's assistant.
Ginger Johnson, a "thick-set, pugnacious" man nearly a decade older than Flame and his business partner and companion for many years.

It is often Carstairs who shows his youth through his impetuosity and it is Johnson who routinely demonstrates a caution before entering into any trouble but Flame is right in the middle, it seems, at all times. Flame is anxious for adventure but not foolhardy, which is why though he finds trouble all over the place, he invariably solves it.

In case there is some question as to why David Flame is a member of this compendium, it is because either he is asked by the Foreign Office to look into an international matter here or there, which is not uncommon, or he decides on his own.

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

Number of Books:16
First Appearance:1949
Last Appearance:1959

1 Flame of the Sierras Flame of the Sierras
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1949

Follows the trio's adventures in a mysterious Southern American country as they become involved in the overthrow of a military dictatorship.

2 Flame Takes Over Flame Takes Over
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1950

“A sea yarn with a French flavor in which the three lads fight their way out of desparate situations” to the “satisfaction of certain Whitehall V.I.P.'s”.

3 Flame Over Africa Flame Over Africa
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1951

David and company make a hazardous journey through the African jungle on behalf of the British Foreign Office to upset the schemes of certain white men who are trying to organize the natives to make trouble.

4 Flame of the Amazon Flame of the Amazon
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1952

"David Flame and Ginger set out for the jungles of the Amazon to seek for a man who had disappeared many years before in its treacherous reaches. Dr. Burns had led an expedition to discover the lost city of El Dorado. He never returned. ... But this trail doesn't stop at a missing explorer. Flame soon finds himself involved in something much more dangerous."

5 Flame Wins Through Flame Wins Through
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1953

When David Flame and his two friends, Ginger and Tony, spot the sneaky criminal named Slim Wilson on the streets of London, they get curious and decide to follow him. This will lead to “one of the most dangerous assignments of his colourful career”.

6 Flame Takes a Chance Flame Takes a Chance
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1953

David Flame and his friends go up against a notorious professor and a gang of thugs he controls, including their old 'pal', Slim Wilson, and a man named Rosy. The action takes them from London to the Bodmin Moor.

7 Flame Hits the Trail Flame Hits the Trail
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1954

Flame and his friends trail some tough American gangsters, operating in London. The adventure starts when David Flame is deliberately pushed under an oncoming train.

8 Flame Hits Back Flame Hits Back
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1954

Flame was enjoying “the peace and quiet of his suite at a Swiss hotel – til two bullets smashed through the window”.

9 Flame and the King’s Ransom Flame and the King’s Ransom
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1955

When David Flame and Tony Carstairs stop their sports car for a closer look at a signpost on a moonlit night while touring in Spain, they did not expect trouble. The sound of a gunshot alerts them to danger because Flame knew it came from an automatic pistol, not a hunting rifle. That is what starts the adventure that will put them into a hunt for a lot of missing diamonds.

10 Flame of the Sahara Flame of the Sahara
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1955

Flame and his friends run into danger again … "The business starts at an Oxfordshire fair, where two kinds of killer, a lion and a man, are at large, and ends among the Tuareg in the Sahara Desert".

11 Flame Sets the Pace Flame Sets the Pace
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1956

MI5 calls upon David Flame and his friend to handle a particularly dangerous mission to search for one of its agents who has gone missing.

12 Flame and the Treasure Trail Flame and the Treasure Trail
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1956

Flame this time hunts treasure from an old Spanish galleon in the Caribbean.

13 Flame Makes the Grade Flame Makes the Grade
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1957

Flame and his friends undertake a very difficult mission for the Foreign Office in unruly Jemel.

14 Flame Takes Command Flame Takes Command
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1957

Flame and his friends run into danger again … After a series of adventures everything ends in the Sahara Desert

15 Flame, Secret Agent Flame, Secret Agent
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1958

David Flame and his two friends, Ginger and Tony, are up against a man known as the Parson. The Parson is after a fortune in gold hidden somewhere in Germany by the Nazis, and he wants Flame out of the way for safety's sake.

16 Flame and the League of Five Flame and the League of Five
Written by Eric Leyland
Copyright: 1959

[plot unknown]

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:3
First Appearance:1957
Last Appearance:1957
Network:ATV

REGULAR CAST
John FabianDavid Flame [ 1 ]

In the early days of 1957, British network ATV presented 3 of the David Flame adventures in serial format of 6, 6, and 5 episodes respectively. They were almost certainly designed for the young viewer market as these 30 minute spots aired from 4:45 to 5:15 each Thursday afternoon during that 17 week run.

Note: While each of the parts had their own name, I could not find a name for each overall adventure so I have used the name of the book from which I believe each plot came.


1 "Flame Sets The Pace"
Episode 1-1, first aired 02/21/1957
Director: Jack Barton
Writer: Derek Hoddinott

A 6-part adventure which aired Feb. 21, Feb. 28, Mar. 7, Mar. 14, Mar. 21, and Mar. 28, 1957.
It was based on the novel of the same name in which David Flame and friends are asked by Scotland Yard to head to Exminster in the southwest of England to search for a missing MI-5 agent who disappeared while on the hunt for a foreign spy ring.

2 "Flame Makes the Grade"
Episode 1-2, first aired 04/04/1957
Director: Jack Barton
Writer: Derek Hoddinott

A 6-part adventure which aired Apr. 4, Apr. 11, Apr. 18, Apr. 25, May 2, and May 9, 1957.
It was based on the novel of the same name in which David Flame and his friends head to the island nation of Jemel to capture a terrorist leader known only as The Ghost.

3 "Flame and the King’s Ransom"
Episode 1-3, first aired 05/16/1957
Director: Jack Barton
Writer: Derek Hoddinott

A 5-part adventure which aired May 16, May 23, May 30, June 6, and June 13, 1957.
It was based on the novel of the same name in which David Flame and his friends are vacationing in Spain when they are suddenly being attacked by the men of an international criminal named Korski. That individual is determined to get hold of  a treasure known as the King's Ransom, though why he is determined to eliminate Flame and friends is uncertain at first.

MY COMMENTS

Oh how I wish that as a young reader, say around 12-14 years old, I had known of and had access to any of these adventures. I would have devoured them with delight. They are very well crafted and the characters are a hoot and the dangers aplenty. 

Even now as a much older young man (in my head!) I still had a blast when I was able to snatch up a few of these and I would love to get hold of the rest. Regretfully, not many, from what I have found, have been made available to the ereaders of the world and the books are long ago out of print.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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