The original film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ (1974) screened on BBC Two


If you enjoy ‘Swallows and Amazons’ do think of joining The Arthur Ransome Society who often visit the film locations or the Arthur Ransome Group on Facebook where you will meet like-minded people – of all ages. Most are dinghy sailors who love the books.

Lat time ‘Swallows and Amazons'(1974) was screened on BBC Two, at least one film fan held a TV party with a 1930’s theme. Others ‘stoked up the wood-burner and settled down to spend an afternoon re-living summer in the Lake District’, adding, ‘It is as if Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without ‘Swallows and Amazons’ – a timeless classic to watch again and again.’

Swallows & Amazons film billing

For the latest edition of the paperback on ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons(1974)’ with details of where the film was made and what those who appeared in it are doing now,  Please click here

The Making of Swallows and Amazons' by Sophie Neville

The ebook, entitled ‘The secrets of filming Swallows & Amazons (1974)’ is similar with a few more stories for adult readers and 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

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 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 purchase.

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

Swallows and Amazons sales book 2

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, the critics in 1974 are asking 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 below.

Radio Times billing of Swallows and Amazons Christmas 2019

~Billing in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times 2019~

Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

13 thoughts on “The original film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ (1974) screened on BBC Two”

  1. Sophie, do you have larger size (hi-resolution) images of the cinema programme, publicity sheets and brochure please? It would be great to have them if you can send them to me.

    1. I can email what I have got. I have the original programme from the premier. It is TARS member Arthur Herbertson who has found the publicity brochure with the cartoons and games. He only sent me snaps, some of which I’ve included here. You could ask him to bring it to a meeting.

  2. Hello Sophie, The books of Arthur Ramsome have had a surprising influence on my life. My father got inspired by his books as well as ‘the riddle of the sands’ by erskin childers. As a teenager he rented his first sailing dinghy on the Serpentine in Hyde park! He went on , when first married, to buying an old wood boat similiar to Goblin/Nancy Blackett in ‘we didn’t mean to go to sea’. I had many adventurers in that boat on the east coast rivers and Belgium and Holland during the 60’s. Moving on to a larger yacht as his family grew so did my passion for sailing. It influenced my further education choices, my move the USA IN ’81 for boatbuilding work (remember 25% vat on yachts!). Sailing has been a part of my life ever since! While we were never movie goers as kids … we got to go sailing every other weekend! the ’74 film is the most wonderfully faithful version of the book. In that era only the terrible Pengiun versions of the books were available , small print and poor illustration so I did not read all the books as a teenager but have gone on to enjoy then all and espically the recent audio versions , even if the voice actor does not know the different between Mizzen and miser! So glad the BBC. Is showing the ’74 film. ( I love you book on the production too). After the awful recent movie version of swallow and amazons with a nasty aggressive John and destruction of the story line I hope others can get to love the true story thru the ’74 version. I’ll make a point of watching it again over Christmas. Cheers Warren

      1. Hi Sophie, I have the ebooks version, my first ebook I think. Maybe 8-10 years ago?
        I was about15 and already a life long sailor when you were filming so it’s full of memories for me growing up in UK. You captured the thinking of the time so well.
        I did not realize how young Claude was. Maybe maybe that’s why it worked so well.
        Cheers Warren

      2. Hi Sophie, I have the ebooks version, my first ebook I think. Maybe 8-10 years ago?
        I was about 15 and already a life long sailor when you were filming so it’s full of memories for me growing up in UK. You captured the thinking of the times so well and the photos are classics!
        I did not realize how young Claude was. Maybe maybe that’s why it worked so well.
        Cheers Warren

        1. Dear Warren, I have brought out a much improved 2nd edition of the ebook, which you should be able to download for free as you have already purchased a copy. Do add a short customer review, if you haven’t already. It is really useful and helps me get commissioned to bring out another book.

          1. Hi Sophie
            I looked it up and it was a 2014 order.
            I can tell what version it is but I do have some video at the beginning.
            If I did not write a review I will

            1. I brought out the second edition in 2017. It’s a huge improvement with additional stories that came in from the Lake District. thanks so much for writing a review. Just a few words is fine. I keep hearing how the books and films got people sailing which is great.

  3. Hi Sophie, so I tried to figure out which version I have. I eventually found on Amazon (us) this
    Product details
    File Size: 16033 KB
    Print Length: 329 pages
    Publisher: Ashton House Publishing; 2 edition (January 3, 2014)
    Publication Date: January 3, 2014
    Sold by: Services LLC
    Language: English
    So I have the 2nd edition but it does not say 2017 so I’m. Confused if I have the 2017 update?
    Looking at the title page of the book it still says 2014 , dunno? Any thoughts?
    From what I read authors have to do something to make sure updates are available ,
    So just information trying to figure out.
    Cheers Warren

    1. Thanks so much for getting back to me about ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons (1974)’ If it has the date 1974 in the title, I’m pretty sure it is the second edition. I hope to bring out a 3rd edition for the 50th anniversary in 2024.

  4. I saw the film when it came out, in Blackburn I think, but I don’t remember there being a printed cinema programme available. If there was I would have kept it; I have cinema/theatre/opera/concert programmes going back to the 1950s! I have recently acquired the LP though and think it’s a great souvenir.

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