Secret Army

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

1970s drama centered around a World War Two Belgian resistance group called Lifeline, operating in and around Brussels. Parodied by the sitcom Allo Allo so succesfully that the sitcom is more well-known than the original.

Tropes used in Secret Army include:
  • Anti-Villain: Brandt definitely qualifies as a Luftwaffe officer who prefers subtler methods over brutality. Reinhardt is also this but is also the Cynic.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lifeline successfully remained hidden throughout the occupation of Belgium. But Monique has fallen out of love with Albert and moves to Britain, Natalie has lost both her parents and her two love interests and the honourable Reinhardt is executed by a revenge seeking Kessler on trumped up charges.Who escapes with his mistress.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Many of the Germans in this series are variously Punch Clock Villains or those who believe My Country, Right or Wrong. Even the nastiest character, Kessler the Gestapo chief has depth to his character. He is flawlessly sweet to his girlfriend, unlike Resistance leader Albert, who is quite ghastly to his. The various resistance groups argue among themselves and contain some rather nasty individuals. The Communists in particular are shown as backstabbers and Lifeline send British pilots home so they can continue bombing German cities. Lifeline also think nothing of killing a single mother in a hit and run before she could alert the German authorities to a hidden airman in series 1.
  • California Doubling: Many Belgian set countryside scenes were filmed in Cambridgeshire due to the similarity of the landscape and the fact that the nearby tourist railway was home to a large number of 1940s period accurate European steam trains.
  • Christmas Episode: The Episode "Guests at God's table" in series 2. It is also the episode in which Monique recognises and acknowledges the Moral Dissonance of their activities.
  • The Cynic: Reinhardtis probably the most cynical character in the whole series. A trait that makes him the only character in the whole series whose openly defiant towards Kessler.
    • Brandt becomes this as time goes on and the war takes its toll on him.
  • Dirty Communists: The Communist resistance are shown in an extremely negative light. Particularly when they tip off the Gestapo so that they shoot Francois when he discovers Max Brocard is working closely with them.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Happens once in an attempt to destroy a V2 Rocket site. Also happens throughout the series as German officers pose as British airmen in attempts to expose lifeline.
  • Driven to Suicide: Brandt After implication in an attempt to kill Hitler.
  • During the War
  • Final Solution: An early episode of the first series touches on The Holocaust where Curtis attempts to help a Jewish family escape from Brussels.
    • Brandt also talks about it with Kessler, he is horrified by it. But Kessler tells him to shut up.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Monique becomes this from Series 2 onwards as the Candide moves from a cafe to a new upmarket venue. Aided by the fact that actress Angela Richards wrote and sang many of the songs.
  • Harmless Lady Disguise: An airman is disguised like this so makeup can be used to cover up his heavily scarred face.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Watch carefully and you'll see a few actors from Allo Allo appearing in series 2 and 3.
  • Killed Off for Real: At the beginning of series 2 Lisa Colbert, lifeline's founder and leader is killed in a bombing raid. Also Reinhardt in the final episode as he is executed by a firing squad orchestrated by a revenge hungry Kessler.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Natalie.
  • La Résistance: The Belgian resistance is shown accurately to be not one group, but a variety of them, with different motivations and methods.
  • Missing Episode: What did you do during the war daddy? was the final filmed episode. Supposedly pulled due to a strike at the BBC, it was supposedly actually pulled due to concerns of dodgy old age make up and whether its revenge seeking and anti-communist tract was out of place with the tone of the rest of the series. Set 25 years after World War Two it concerns the characters being interviewed for a TV series. The episode was not featured in the DVD boxed set and most interviewed cast members felt it was right to pull it. Clips sometimes appear on YouTube.
  • Nazi Hunter: Kessler was a sequel set in the (then) present day in which journalists, a German police officer and a Jewish girl hunt down Kessler.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Captain Durnford is this in the third and final series as well as being a Reasonable Authority Figure considering that he prevents Monique from having her head shaved by a lynch mob. Kessler is also this but only towards his girlfriend.
    • Luftwaffe officers; Reinhardt and Brandt.
  • Pet the Dog: Kessler has his moments with Madeleine.
  • Shown Their Work: Many of the more fantastic escape plots were based on real attempts used by Allied airmen.
  • Snark Knight: Reinhardt is this towards Kessler, making him one of the most interesting characters in the series.
  • Stock Footage: The same footage of a Mosquito fighter plane is reused over the course of the final series.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: The Occupation forces of Belgium never really amount to more than about 15 members of a bizarre SS/Wehrmacht unit. Major Brandt is supposed to be in charge of a Luftwaffe police unit, yet never seems to have any Luftwaffe personnel.
  • The Quisling: The Lifeline crew pretend to be quislings as a cover for their resistance activities.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Subverted considering that most of the Nazi characters are well rounded, even Kessler.
  • Train Escape: Of a sort. In an episode in series 2, a British airman steals a locomotive from a railway yard to escape German search parties.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Monique starts off as Albert's mistress hoping he will abandon his wife and leave with her. However the war ends with Albert free to marry Monique, who had grown tired of waiting and leaves with Captain Durnford.
  • War Is Hell: Many reminders of this throughout the series, The protagonist's often fail.
  • What Happened to the Mouse??: During the evacuation of Brussels, Kessler's military assistant Wullner is seen leaving with him. In the next episode he has disappeared.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: A tactic played by undercover Germans pretending to be Allied Aircrew. Kessler takes this to the extreme and breaks the arm of one such agent so his cover will look more convincing.