If one thing underlines how perceptions of air transport have changed since the mid-20th century, it is the way that airlines are depicted in fiction, especially cinema and television. In the early 1960s the BBC’s top children’s television programme, shown in their prime Sunday afternoon spot, was a swashbuckling adventure based on the fictional charter pilot: Garry Halliday. The three series, screened between 1959 and 1962, were hugely successful and spawned five spin-off novels while remaining the BBC’s most popular children’s TV series until replaced by Dr Who in 1963.
Halliday was played by Terence Longdon, who had been a Fleet Air Arm pilot during World War Two. The filming was done at Lydd Airport in Kent with the cooperation of Silver City Airways, one of whose DC3s featured as the sole aircraft of Halliday’s business: Halliday Charter Company.
Each week Halliday, and his co-pilot played by Bill Kerr, would narrowly survive encounters with crooks, gun runners, foreign spies, and a criminal mastermind known as ‘The Voice.’ The programme gained popularity during an era when flying was still seen as exciting, if not daring, and small British charter airlines abounded. In a time when few people had flown, a generation of British school kids absorbed the idea that ‘charter airlines’ were deeply romantic and exotic; a mindset that would fade once flying became commonplace.
Britain's Airline Entrepreneurs, available from this website, tells the story of the growth of British charter airlines from 1945 until the present.