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Captain Zeppos -- Series One

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The Series
• Series One
• Series One (BBC)
• Series Two
• Series Three
• Kurrel & Co.
• The Feature Film

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Copyright Notice:
The television programme Kapitein Zeppos is © VRT. Adventurer makes no attempt to assume or supercede copyright. Copyright remains with the copyright holders.

The entire written content of this website is © Alan Hayes and Patrick Van de Weghe and reproduction is forbidden without express permission.

This website is a non-profit making, academic reference and research work, written and compiled in private study and is classified under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 as "Fair Dealing".

Series One Pages:


Episode Guide

Cast and Crew


Captain Zeppos -- Introduction

When Kapitein Zeppos was launched on Belgian television in 1964, it was the latest in a growing line of memorable children's television productions produced by the BRT. The previous year had seen the light-hearted time travel romp, De tijdscapsule ("The Time Capsule") which, in common with Kapitein Zeppos, was directed  by Senne Rouffaer and produced by Rik Van den Abbeele. But of all Belgian children's television, it was 1964's entry which would perhaps become the most fondly recalled.

Kapitein Zeppos told the story of a mysterious man, Jan Stephorst, who has returned from his travels in Greece, Arabia, Turkey and Crete. In Greece, he became known as Captain Zeppos - the 'captain' because he owned a boat, and 'Zeppos' because the locals couldn't pronounce 'Stephorst'. It is under this moniker that Stephorst returns incognito to his homeland of Belgium to claim his inheritance - the beautiful castle and grounds of the Belderbos estate. His return is greeted with much suspicion among the townsfolk of the nearby Belder, but he is at least welcomed by young Ben Kurrel who quickly forms a strong bond of friendship with the stranger. As the story progresses, it becomes apparent that there is more to the Belderbos estate than either Zeppos or the people of Belder ever realised.

The introductory Kapitein Zeppos serial was written by Lode de Groof (also known as Louis) - who contributed many scripts for the Belgian youth series over the years - and featured Senne Rouffaer as the eponymous Captain. Rouffaer had been engaged to direct the serial and was not originally cast as Zeppos - Ward de Ravet, who would ultimately play the Captain's nemesis, Baral, later in the serial, was the original choice to play Zeppos. Due to illness just prior to the start of filming, de Ravet had to be quickly replaced - and consequently, it was Senne Rouffaer who ended up playing one of the most celebrated roles in Belgian children's television, while de Ravet was left to recover from his illness, joining the production further down the line as Baral. It's fascinating to consider how the series would have turned out with de Ravet in the role - he and Senne Rouffaer were very different types, in terms of appearance, age and build. No doubt about it, Ward de Ravet's Kapitein Zeppos would have been a very different animal.

The series was transmitted to enthusiastic audiences, making its mark over its sixteen week transmission - enough to generate a tie-in novel and two sequels four years later. The success of Kapitein Zeppos was not, however, restricted to Belgium. The original Flemish version went on to be broadcast in the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland and the BBC in the United Kingdom also saw the potential of the series and acquired it for broadcast there too. As was the common BBC practice at that time, a new soundtrack was recorded in English, and the episodes edited to fit the timeslots. This BBC version was then distributed to English-speaking nations, and, as Captain Zeppos, the series aired in countries such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica and New Zealand. The English language prints also made it (subtitled, we assume) to Egypt, Hong Kong, Japan and Nigeria. Unfortunately, only the first series was ever dubbed into English. You can read more about the English version elsewhere on our site.

This first 16 episode Kapitein Zeppos serial cost 5 million Belgian francs to make, which was a considerably smaller budget to work to than that for similar programmes from other countries. Regardless of the skimping that had to take place, Belderbos rarely looks anything other than expensive - the locations are beautiful, the camerawork and direction first rate. It is very easy to see why Belgian children and their families became hooked upon it and fell in love with the series.

Unlike the other Kapitein Zeppos serials, the first has individual episode titles for each week's installment. These were illustrated with a series of striking caption cards. These are included in our episode guide.

All episodes exist today on film in the VRT Archives and have been released on home video in Belgium. This serial was repeated on Belgian television in 1979, 1985 and most recently between Sunday 5th October 2003 and Sunday 11th January 2004.

For other pages in this section, please use the links at the top of the page.