Secret Army, a series created by Gerard Glaister, chronicled the history of a Belgian resistance movement during the Second World War dedicated to returning Allied airmen back to their home country. The show was set in a Brussels café and later restaurant (Le Candide), where the owner Albert Foiret helps Lisa Colbert (code-named "Yvette") hide airmen and control the various members of the "Lifeline" organisation as they take the airmen across borders to safer neutral countries such as Spain. Their principal opponents were Ludwig Kessler, an officious officer in the SS, and the more laidback Luftwaffe officer Major Erwin Brandt.
1969. Albert, Monique, Natalie and Alain are invited to take part in a British TV documentary “In Our Time” commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Allied liberation of Brussels. Also participating is Kessler, now known as Manfred Dorf. The former Lifeline personnel reunite at the Candide, and discuss their lives during the war. NB: The episode was never broadcast due to quality issues and the feeling that the content ran contrary to the main dramatic themes of the overall series.
Albert is finally released from prison and reunited with Monique. The Lifeline personnel continue to be in danger of reprisals from their own people and the Communists for alleged collaboration with the Germans, but Albert refuses to leave the Candide. The Allies are still making their way towards Brussels, and Natalie and Alain join the offensive. As Kessler and his men leave the city, Reinhardt stays behind to complete his investigation into Lifeline and pays one last visit to the Candide, just as Paul Vercors emerges to take ultimate revenge on Albert.Watch Now:Amazon
The Allied advance continues as they at last enter Belgium, and the Germans begin to plan a strategic withdrawal from Brussels. Albert is petitioning for his release from prison, while Bradley endeavours to forge links with other resistance groups. The people of Brussels are now left to their own devices, and recriminations are brewing for collaborators and black marketeers. Kessler comes to help Madeleine, while Alain offers Monique and Natalie a place to hide. Meanwhile, Reinhardt at last obtains proof that the Candide is Lifeline’s base of operations, and prepares to strike.
Major Nick Bradley returns to Brussels to co-ordinate resistance activities whilst waiting for the Allies’ final push, and clashes with Monique over leadership of Lifeline. A tense time is in store for Lifeline when Alain is arrested, and Bradley decides to make a deal with a German officer to try to get him out of Gestapo headquarters. However, the officer demands one million francs in exchange for Alain’s freedom.
Lifeline’s original function is now over – the Allied advance has severed the evasion lines and it is now a matter of keeping evaders safely hidden until the war is over. Despite Kessler’s irritation at Reinhardt’s manner and methods, his efforts pay dividends when he discovers a Lifeline safehouse. Two of his new prisoners commit suicide rather than talk, but Reinhardt is determined that the third prisoner will give information under torture. Albert and Monique receive a tip-off that the middle-aged Chantal sisters, who are based in Senlis and often shelter airmen for Lifeline, are in imminent danger.
Whilst dining at the Candide, Kessler becomes intrigued by Madeleine Duclos, an elegant but remote socialite. Meanwhile, Monique takes some airmen down the line and is shot and wounded when she becomes unintentionally involved in a smuggler’s attempt to evade a railway checkpoint. Recovering in a convent hospital, she is cleared of smuggling, but finds herself in more danger when the French police discover the train tickets she was carrying for the airmen and that her papers are false. Kessler sets out from Brussels to interrogate her, prompting Natalie, Alain and Max to stage a daring rescue mission.
Brandt receives a visit from his wife Erika, who asks him to let her and their children come to live with him in Brussels as it is becoming too dangerous to carry on living in Berlin with the increasing British air raids. Brandt tells Erika that his work in Brussels may soon be over, as he has successfully infiltrated Lifeline with an undercover agent. Word of this reaches the Candide, and Albert must face the grim possibility of killing all evaders currently in hiding to preserve the safety of the line. However, Max and Dr. Keldermans have an alternative plan to discover the identity of the infiltrator, but the scheme requires the assistance of Natalie’s uncle, Hans Van Broecken, who hates Albert and will not help Lifeline.
The Germans are out to capture a group of evaders, believing them to be responsible for the murder of an officer. One pair of evaders manages to contact Lifeline, while the other two throw their lot in with the Communists. Francois is determined to prove his worth as a Lifeline guide to Albert and Natalie, and decides to co-ordinate the journey down the line for all the evaders, approaching the Communists to take responsibility for the airmen against Albert’s advice. Whilst visiting the Communists’ hideout, Francois meets Max, whose true loyalties have begun to emerge in force.
Dr. Keldermans visits the Candide with tragic news, and Albert must take decisive action if Lifeline is to continue. Meanwhile, Natalie has the difficult task of taking two eccentric Russian evaders down the line. Brandt dines with a high-ranking military acquaintance, Oberst von Elmendorff, who tries to recruit him in a military plot to assassinate Hitler, while Kessler invites Albert to a strange garden party.
Bradley travels to the Ardennes to continue recruiting his own private army of former airmen to engage in sabotage activities – the target is V2 testing sites. Bradley’s first objective, however, is to hijack a convoy of weapons and he asks Monique for assistance in recruiting men and resources. Lifeline, previously an evasion network, is now a fully-fledged guerrilla operation
The Allied liberation of Brussels paradoxically brings terror for the former Lifeline workers. About to face savage punishment after being falsely accused of collaboration, Monique is rescued thanks to Natalie and a British officer, Captain Stephen Durnford. She moves in with Natalie, where Durnford visits her and the two become close. Natalie tries to persuade Albert to declare his feelings for Monique, but he remains convinced that she will come back to him and the Candide. Meanwhile, Hans Van Broecken has to deal with two German deserters who have stowed away aboard his barge.
An assassination attempt has been made on Hitler, and Kessler believes that Reinhardt is involved in the conspiracy. He begins to gather information that he hopes will provide his colleague’s guilt. Meanwhile, Albert becomes aware that the Communists are once more out to get Lifeline, and that he is their target.
Lifeline must work overtime when a heavy storm downs several British planes on their way back from a bombing raid on Berlin. Natalie comes into contact with Major Nicholas Bradley, a British officer on a special assignment, who is uncooperative and highly critical of Lifeline’s security when he follows her all the way back to the Candide. It seems that Bradley’s concern is well founded, as an undercover Gestapo man is also tailing Natalie.Watch Now:Amazon
Curtis’ cover has been blown and Kessler knows that he is part of the resistance. To avoid endangering the others, Curtis goes to ground in Brussels. Knowing that Lifeline is at last in his sights, Kessler orders that all routes out of the city are blocked and co-ordinates a house-to-house search throughout the city. In desperation, Curtis goes to the Candide to ask for help, and Monique comes up with a highly audacious escape plan.
Kessler is enjoying his developing relationship with Madeleine, but begins to feel that his feelings for her may cloud his judgement while Brandt is once more approached about joining the military plot to assassinate Hitler. The British co-ordinate a massive air raid attack on Berlin, but bombs are dropped on civilian targets in error – with tragic repercussions for Brandt. Monique and Alain try but fail to help a bomb aimer shot down on his way back to England. Having captured the man, Brandt finds himself face to face with the enemy and this time, it’s personal.Watch Now:Amazon
Lifeline’s latest intake of evaders have been forced to leave a wounded colleague behind, hidden in a barn, but Lisa and Albert are unable to make a move due to heavy German activity in that area. The wounded evader, Sergeant Howson, is befriended and helped by a young boy, Jean-Paul Dornes, but Howson needs medical attention and Jean-Paul has to contact the resistance. Unfortunately, Jean-Paul’s mother Anna, who has raised him alone since her husband died in the fighting and is now involved with Emil Schnorr, a corporal from the local barracks, is sympathetic to the Germans.
When Lisa Colbert is arrested whilst meeting a contact near Paris, the whole future of Lifeline is put at risk. This also leads to her uncle being arrested and interrogated by Kessler. Whilst in prison, Lisa must decide whether she can trust her fellow inmates who claim to know who she is and how they can help her escape. These events will lead to tragedy, both personal and for Lifeline.Watch Now:Amazon
Following up a lead in their continuing investigations to crack the evasion lines, Kessler and Brandt examine the details of a recent murder case in France with Curtis, in his cover as a travelling salesman, as their prime suspect. Believing Curtis to be part of the resistance, Brandt and Kessler visit the Candide and take him away for questioning. With their efforts to help evaders becoming more and more dangerous and difficult, Albert and Lisa fear the worst, as the Germans strike right at the heart of Lifeline.
Albert and Lisa continue to be suspicious of Curtis, whilst Lifeline is stretched to its limit trying to deal with several evaders. The Germans capture one evader, Sergeant Walker, who has travelled down the line and is familiar with several of Lifeline’s personnel. Walker makes a desperate bid for freedom to avoid talking and throws himself down a staircase at Gestapo headquarters. As Walker recovers in hospital, Lifeline deliberate over whether he can be rescued from the Germans or if he must be silenced to preserve the security of the line.Watch Now:Amazon
Some months have passed, and Albert and Monique are preparing for the grand opening of the Restaurant Candide on Brussels’ Grand Place, financed by London to allow Lifeline to continue its activities. Lifeline also recruits a new forger, Max Brocard. Alain brings a British agent to the Candide with an urgent request from London: a Brigadier General with information on a major Allied offensive in North Africa (named in the programme as Operation Torch) has been shot down on his way to a top secret meeting and must be rescued at all odds. Natalie has already discovered the Brigadier and prepares to take him down the line. However, disaster strikes when a German soldier is murdered, and in retaliation, Kessler orders that twenty people are to be held hostage and shot if the killer doesn’t give himself up. The Brigadier is one of the hostages.
As Bradley’s army remains in hiding along the Dutch border, he and Natalie become closer as they work together planning the raid on the V2 site. To increase his chances of success, Bradley must try to obtain the rocket delivery schedule and plans to get the information by dining with Kessler at the Candide…. Meanwhile, Reinhardt is rapidly closing in on Lifeline, with Natalie as his chief suspect.
Lifeline, a Brussels-based resistance organisation smuggling downed RAF fliers back to Britain, is endangered when Luftwaffe Major Erwin Brandt blows one of their safehouses. The Lifeline leaders, Lisa Colbert and café proprietor Albert Foiret, are suspicious when London sends Flight Lieutenant John Curtis, who had previously gone down the line with Lisa, to help co-ordinate their activities. Brandt, meanwhile, also finds assistance from Gestapo Sturnbannfuhrer Ludwig Kessler, transferred from Berlin to crack down on the evasion lines.
Vercors has taken Albert, Monique and Reinhardt prisoner, and plans to hang Albert as a collaborator and a murderer. Only the Allies, helped by Natalie, can save him but they have only just entered Brussels. Meanwhile, Kessler and Madeleine are trekking on foot towards Germany through the Belgian countryside. To evade capture by the Allies, Kessler decides to take on a new identity.Watch Now:Amazon
The Jewish population of Brussels is being systemically deported according to colour-coded identification papers developed by the Germans. Curtis becomes involved with a Jewish family hiding out in the city and asks Lisa if Lifeline can help, but Lisa is unwilling to put the line, which is supposed to help RAF evaders not Jews, at risk. Curtis himself is still under suspicion by Albert, when Lisa’s uncle, bank manager Gaston Colbert, identifies Belgian banknotes he brought over from London as forgeries. Kessler obtains some of the notes, and realises that they are too accurate to be real and have been made by the Belgian treasury plates, which were evacuated to London before the German invasion. He believes that the notes will bring him closer to Lifeline.
Still languishing in prison, Albert learns that he was set up by the Communist leader Paul Vercors. Meanwhile, Dr. Keldermans makes a shocking discovery when examining an evader at a safehouse – the man is dying of bubonic plague. Lifeline’s personnel face the horrifying possibility of being wiped out by the deadly disease.Watch Now:Amazon