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Since the 1950s, there have been a number of Hardy Boys TV dramatisations, beginning with The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure, which was produced by Disney and soon followed by a sequel: The Mystery of Ghost Farm. These and most of the subsequent serials were broadcast in Britain and various Commonwealth territories. Special TV 'tie-in' editions and comics were often released, as a way of promoting the programmes via the books (or vice versa).
This page attempts to document both the appearance of the Hardy Boys television serials in Britain and other countries (such as Australia and New Zealand), in addition to the associated ephemera that was released concurrently.
Disney 'Mickey Mouse Club' Serials
According to a contemporary issue of the Radio Times (the main British guide to TV and Radio listings) The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure was first shown in the UK by the BBC sometime between the 28th of May, and the 3rd of June, 1966.
The Disney comic-books published in the US by Dell were released in Australia by W. G. Publications (Sydney) in 1958, as part of their 'Giant' comic series.
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
British Air Dates
The successful series starring Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as Frank and Joe Hardy, and Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy Drew, had its UK debut on Saturday the 3rd March 1979, on BBC 1 at 5:25pm. The episode that was broadcast was Disappearing Floor. A further 17 episodes were shown on Saturday afternoons that year (a mixture of stories from the first and second seasons), the last of which aired on the 25th of August: A Haunting We Will Go.
The remaining 18 episodes – again a seemingly random selection of shows from the first two seasons – were aired in two sections: four stories were screened over five weeks, beginning with The Mystery of Witches’ Hollow on the 25th of April 1981. Then later that year, the last 14 shows aired on week days between the 21st of December and the 8th of January 1982 (when Death Surf was shown).
A full listing of the episodes screened in the UK follows below:
* The scheduled first screening of this episode must have been pre-empted, as it subsequently aired on the 23rd of May, with a note in the Manchester Guardian saying it was the one "you didn't see two weeks back".
We have been unable to determine when (or if) the third season was broadcast in the UK.
New Zealand Air Dates
Books with the "Television New
Zealand" sticker attached
In New Zealand, Season 1 was aired in a period spanning from 24 July 1980 to 23 October 1980. Season 2 was screened in two halves: 19 December 1981 to 6 February 1982 and 12 October 1982 to 1 February 1983, with a repeat of both series from 12 December 1983 to early February 1984. (During 1983 and 1984, some of the Angus & Robertson hardbacks and a few Armada paperbacks were released bearing an "as seen on TELEVISION NEW ZEALAND" sticker.) Both series were again repeated followed by the first ever run of season 3 during 2001.
Australian Air Dates
We know of the exact start dates for all three seasons in two of the six Australian regions: in Melbourne (Victoria) it was Thursday, 12 January 1978. In Sydney (New South Wales) it was the following week, 19 January 1978. Other regions would have been been staggered week by week after that.
Australian TV review and preview from "The Age" newspaper.
Both seasons 1 and 2 aired back to back, with some of the stories then repeated at various times in 1979.
Season 3 started in Sydney from 23 November 1979. It ran until January 1980. It was screening in Melbourne by January 1980 as well, but we are unable to confirm the precise start date.
There were then random repeats from all 3 seasons at various times over the next few years well into the mid-80s.
What's odd, is that the TV station treated the ten Season 1 and 2 Nancy Drew episodes as a different series, i.e., not running them alternatively with the Hardys but on a different day - so the first ND ep wasn't until Sunday, 5 November 1978 in Sydney, and Saturday, 11 November in Melbourne! (For example, 'Pirates Cove' opened the ND series in Sydney on Sunday 5th, then on Saturday 11 Nov, the HB ep "Wipe Out' was broadcast.) These ran until mid-January 1979.
Australian TV listings.
Armada Books contemporaneously published a number of paperbacks with photographic covers, featuring publicity shots from the TV series (as opposed to the usual artwork). Two Hardy Boys titles (While The Clock Ticked & The Wailing Siren Mystery) and two Nancy Drew titles (The Mystery of the Tolling Bell & The Haunted Showboat) appeared in this particular format (visit the Armada Format F page for more details). In addition, boxed sets for both series were issued sporting photographs of the TV actors on the cardboard slipcases.
Armada TV tie-ins: three paperbacks and the Hardy Boys boxed set.
The January 1981 issue of children's literature periodical Books For Keeps reveals the how the programme affected sales of the Armada releases:
The Hardy Boys TV series in 1979 boosted sales. In 1980 they were back to their previous level. Nancy Drew (same series) sales shot up and have stayed up. No-one knows why
A subsequent issue of the magazine attempted to explain the disparity:
In Books for Keeps 6, mainly about children's books and television, we reported that sales of Nancy Drew books had shot up with the TV series and stayed up, whereas The Hardy Boys, after a brief boost, had settled back to the previous level. No-one at Armada could explain why.
Jane Little, a librarian in London, was intrigued and wrote to us with what she thinks is the answer.
'I suggest that this is because the Nancy Drew books, although as formula-written as The Hardy Boys ones, feature girls doing all the exciting things ... Girls who like a fairly predictable story but with strong female characters often relate well to the Nancy Drew books.'
In 1979 Armada also released the novelisations of three TV episodes in a special paperback compendium: The Hardy Boys And Nancy Drew Meet Dracula (And Other Stories). The stories featured in this collection were attributed to the Stratemeyer Syndicate:
- The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula (original screenplay by Glen Larson & Michael Sloan)
- The Haunted House (original screenplay by Michael Sloan)
- Flight To Nowhere (derived from 'The Flickering Torch Mystery' dramatisation by James Henerson)
In a chart of the best-selling titles issued by Books for Students (a major British company supplier of books to both schools and libraries), the Dracula paperback reached the number-one position during the Christmas term of 1979. The paperback fell to 15th the following Spring, and by the Summer term, the book had dropped out of the chart altogether.
Grandreams Limited, a new publishing company was founded in 1979 and based at Jadwin House in Kentish Town Road, London. It specialised in producing hardcover annuals with comic strips, illustrated short-stories, and sundry puzzles and games. Set up by Peter and Brian Babani, this new publishing house focused on characters from a range of Marvel comics (including, the Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and The Incredible Hulk), but also created annuals for a variety of films and TV franchises, covering both UK and US produced shows. Granddreams dominated this market for the next two decades.
Grandreams published two annuals based on the Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries TV series, the first in 1979 and the second in 1980. Both were ghostwritten by Colin Edmonds and David Angus (please do read our in-depth interview with Colin!).
The annuals – printed in Holland – each contain a mixture of strip and text stories, games, puzzles, pin-ups and profiles of the actors, illustrated with photos from the TV series. The specific stories contained within each volume are listed below:
- Gold Smugglers (Hardy Boys comic strip)
- The Marina Mystery (Nancy Drew comic strip)
- Shark (Hardy Boys comic strip)
- Pterodactyl (Hardy Boys comic strip)
- The Phantom Flyer (Nancy Drew comic strip)
- Trouble on Oiled Waters (Hardy Boys comic strip)
- Lighthouse (Nancy Drew short story)
- The Case of the Muddy Pants (Nancy Drew comic strip)
- Mystery of the Missing Millionaire (Hardy Boys comic strip)
- Night Ride to Disaster (Hardy Boys short story)
- The Ghost of Gravesdyke Grange (Nancy Drew comic strip)
A monthly magazine was released in the UK in July 1979, priced at 40p per issue. The magazine was produced by Dave Burns and Mandy Williams, and appears to be part of 'The Hardy Boys Club': a fan club set up to cater for followers of the TV series and – perhaps more pertinently – teenage admirers of the actors Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy.
The first four issues of "The Hardy Boys Monthly Magazine"
These diminutive publications included an assortment of promotional and candid photographs, articles, letters pages and interviews. Only four issues have come to light thus far, although it is probable that more were produced, given that the TV series later aired in 1981.
The Hardy Boys (1995 series)
These Canadian-produced adaptations of the Drew and Hardy characters ran for one season each; the Hardy Boys were loosely based upon the Casefiles novels. The episodes were possibly broadcast in the UK by Channel 4, although we cannot provide positive confirmation of that at this time.