The original Swallows and Amazons film returns to the BBC

The original Swallows and Amazons film from 1974 returns to BBC TV for the third time this year, writes Sophie Neville.

It will be available online on the BBC iPlayer until 27th January 2020, having been broadcast on BBC2 on Wednesday 18th December at 3pm.

At least one film fan is holding a TV party to celebrate. It is as if Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it – a timeless classic that viewers of all ages snuggle up to watch again and again.

Swallows and Amazons film title

It would be lovely to hear from anyone who saw it in the cinema when it first came out in cinemas in the summer of 1974 – more than forty-five years ago.

9a. Leaflet programme for S and A film Theatr Clwyd 1976_reverse.JPG

Simon Hodkin kindly sent in this cinema programme that he has kept since watching the movie when he was a boy growing up in North Wales.

9. Leaflet programme for S and A film Theatr Clwyd 1976_front

Can anyone remember the films scheduled later that long hot summer of 1976: The Long Goodbye (1973) with Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt and Sterling Hayden, What Next and Black Beauty starring Mark Lester?

Swallows and Amazons comic 1

Swallows and Amazons comic 2

Arthur Herbertson managed to track down these rare publicity sheets for Swallows and Amazons typical of movie games of the period:

Swallows and Amazons 1974 camp scene

Arthur also has a collection of the four jigsaw puzzles and the Puffin paperback that came out with the film.


There was a vinyl LP narrated by the screenwriter David Wood that you can still sometimes purchase.

Arthur also found a publicity brochure that I had never seen before.

Swallows and Amazons sales book 2

You can buy the latest edition of my paperback on The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974) from the Nancy Blackett Shop.

The Making of Swallows and Amazons' by Sophie Neville

The e-book, entitled The Secrets of Filming Swallows & Amazons, is the same, but with a few more stories for adult readers, and it also has links to behind-the-scenes cine footage. It can be downloaded from iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo and Amazon Kindle.

The Secrets of Filming Swallows & Amazons

To read comments from people who saw the film at the cinema in 1974, please click here

The original story was written by Arthur Ransome in 1929 ninety years ago, so the film hits the half-way mark between the original readers and today’s audience.  It’s funny, but the critics in 1974 asked the same question as raised in the billing this week: do ‘modern youngsters struggle to relate to such old-fashioned “game playing”?

Do add your thoughts to the comments here.

Radio Times billing of Swallows and Amazons Christmas 2019

Billing in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times 2019

This story was originally published by Sophie Neville.