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Four Feather Falls (1960)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment

Main image of Four Feather Falls (1960)
ATP for Granada/ITV, 25/2-17/11/1960 (London)
39 x 15 minutes episodes, black & white
DirectorGerry Anderson
ContinuitySylvia Thamm / Anderson
ScriptsPhil Wrestler
 Mary Cathcart Borer
 Jill Allgood
MusicBarry Gray

Voices: Nicholas Parsons (Tex Tucker); Michael Holliday (Tex Tucker (singing)); David Graham (Fernando / Granpa Twink); Denise Bryer (Ma Jones / Little Jake); Kenneth Connor (Pedro / Rocky / Dusty / Kalamakooya / Mr Jackson)

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The adventures of wandering cowboy Tex Tucker, owner of magic six-guns and a talking horse and dog, who becomes Sheriff of Four Feather Falls.

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The influence of American TV imports on the tastes and viewing habits of British audiences stretches back to the early days of the medium. It's no surprise, then, that the first original production from Gerry Anderson's AP Films, Four Feather Falls, should take its lead from across the Atlantic.

The independent production company's first two children's puppet series - The Adventures of Twizzle (ITV, 1957-58) and Torchy the Battery Boy (ITV, 1960-61) - had been commissions. Both shows were hits and confidence was riding high; it was time to for AP Films to develop its own show. It wasn't immediately clear what it should be about, but with US Western shows like Gunsmoke and Wagon Train popular with UK audiences, a cowboy series looked like a safe bet.

There was, unfortunately, one obstacle - a puppet cowboy isn't very convincing when it comes to being fast on the trigger. Give a swift tug on his wires and instead of snatching a Colt 45 from its holster your pistol-packing lawman appears to have a spasm. Fortunately for Tex Tucker, the hero of Four Feather Falls, this wasn't a problem - he had magic guns that could fire of their own accord. This simple device not only solved the problem of how our hero could be fast on the draw, it was also integral to his character, in the process making a virtue of necessity.

In the first episode of the show, 'How it All Began', the mysterious Indian chief Kalamakooya gives Tex four magic feathers for finding his lost son, Makooya. The feathers not only give the kindly sheriff power over his guns, they also give the power of speech to his horse, Dusty, and his dog, Rocky, both voiced by future Carry On stalwart Kenneth Connor. Tex Tucker, however, boasted two voice artists - veteran comic Nicholas Parsons for his dialogue and singer Michael Holliday for the weekly musical number. David Graham, later to supply the voice for Parker in Thunderbirds (ITV, 1965-66), was another regular contributor.

Four Feather Falls' 15-minute episodes were too short for complex storytelling, but the show's weekly pastiche of cowboy plots proved ideally suited to the creation of mini-adventures. And much to the delight of AP Films, the show was given a prestigious TV Times front cover to mark its launch. Tex Tucker's adventures in Kansas rounded up a mighty audience.

Anthony Clark

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Video Clips
'How It Began' (extract) (4:54)
Production stills
Connor, Kenneth (1918-1993)
Parsons, Nicholas (1928-)
Gerry Anderson - Supermarionator