I MADE NEWS
I Made News was a landmark TV series for the BBC in several respects. Firstly, it was the first time that directors had been used in television. Previously on both sound radio and television the accepted format was for writer-producers to direct their own shows. The BBC had recently finished making the docu-drama series War on Crime, a police procedural based on real-life cases from the files of Scotland Yard. But one of the criticisms of War on Crime was that as it was only shown monthly - it failed to build up any audience loyalty. As a result, producer Robert Barr was given the job of setting up a production unit capable of turning out weekly dramas of the type that were then being produced in America. I Made News was to be the case study for this new production process, turning out 12 weekly half-hour docu-dramas. Due to its experimental nature, I Made News was more concerned with quantity than quality, a move that proved to be quite controversial within the BBC itself. Critics too, appeared to be divided. The News of the World commented: "I Made News has only occasionally made good television. As the creator of 'Raffles' may not have said, there's no police like Holmes." The series centered round criminal investigations but didn't restrict itself to the British police force. Some episodes were set in Holland, others involved the FBI and the leading investigator from those cases were invited to top and tail the programme which was told, like War on Crime, in dramatic reconstruction. The face of the Metropolitan Police was Robert Fabian (pictured) whose exploits would later form the BBC series Fabian of Scotland Yard (aka Fabian of the Yard). In her book on the development of the police series' on British television, 'Beyond Dixon of Dock Green', Susan Sydney-Smith writes that I Made News "both increased production and considerably enhanced the BBC's ability to compete with the arrival of Independent Television." Building on the experience gained on I Made the News, the BBC produced another six-part series called Pilgrim Street. This series, made in co-operation with Scotland Yard, contained many of the elements that would eventually be employed in the BBC's best remembered police series, Dixon of Dock Green.
12 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC 1951.
I MARRIED DORA
This sitcom proved that illegal marriage was a bad idea for a TV series—but it was partially redeemed by a strange final episode that wrapped up the loose ties. Peter Farrell (Daniel Hugh-Kelly), a Los Angeles architect and single dad, was in danger of losing his El Salvadorian housekeeper Dora Calderon (Elizabeth Pena) to the federal immigration folks for her illegal status. Peter's bright idea: Marry Dora, allowing her to stay in the States and care for his children Kate and Will (played by Juliette Lewis and Jason Horst respectively). Of course, it was pointed out to the producers and the network that marriages under false pretences violated federal law. So on the premiere episode of I Married Dora, ABC announced that fact, and told viewers "You should not try this in your own home." The series found its humour in Peter and Dora hiding their marital status, while resisting the inevitable attraction to each other. In early 1988, ABC put the show out of its misery, but not without a final episode: Peter received a lucrative two-year job in Bahrain, and prepared to leave without Dora and the kids, even though Dora begged him to stay. Peter got onto the plane—and soon got off again. “It's been cancelled,” Peter told Dora. “The flight?” asked Dora. “No,” replied Peter, “our series!” The camera quickly pulled back, as the cast and crew waved so long to the few viewers who stuck with I Married Dora. It was the least they could do.
13 episodes ABC 1987-88
I MARRIED JOAN
Bradley Stevens served as a judge in domestic court. Each week the case he was trying reminded him of an incident that happened between himself and his dizzy wife, Joan, and this was the cue for him to explain how he had dealt with it. At this point the picture would fade into his home and the situation would be enacted. I Married Joan was one of the many US sitcoms that tried to reproduce the phenomenal success of I Love Lucy with -in this case, actress Joan Davis doing a more than passable job for three years. During the first season Joan's partner in crime was next door neighbour Minerva Parker (Hope Emerson), but for the next two seasons Joan's real-life daughter (Beverly Wills) joined the cast as her younger college student sister, Beverly. Jim Backus, the man who voiced the myopic cartoon character Mr Magoo, was Judge Stevens.
98 shows of 30 minute duration. Black and White. 1952-1955.
This slick espionage drama was notable for the fact that it was the first TV series on a national network to feature a black actor playing alongside a white one on a regular basis. It was not, however, the first TV series to do so. In 1953 WOR-TV, a New York station aired a series called Harlem Detective, a half-hour crime series featuring William Marshall and Owen Jordan as two plainclothes heroes. The series was written by Jay Bennett and directed by Bob Erle and Lawrence Menkin. So when I Spy came along in 1965 it was not exactly going into untested territory. Bill Cosby (later to become a major TV star in his own right), starred as agent Alexander Scott, who alongside Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson toured the four corners of the world travelling to exotic locations under the guise of tennis ace and coach. Although outwardly liberal minded, NBC ensured that Culp took the superior role of player and that Cosby never appeared opposite a white woman. Even so the show set became a great hit and Cosby was awarded three Emmy's for his role. The show ran for four season's finishing in 1968, although the two paired up again in 1972 for the movie Hickey & Boggs, in which they played two down-and-out private eyes.
82 episodes of 60 minute duration. NBC. 1965-68.
IF THERE WEREN'T ANY BLACKS YOU'D HAVE TO INVENT THEM
Johnny Speight’s bleakly comic allegorical play whose overarching theme - as with so much of his work - is the unthinking perpetuation of racial and religious prejudice. The monochrome TV production, screened in 1968, includes among its cast members Ronald Radd, Frank Thornton, Leslie Sands, Valerie Leon and Nerys Hughes, while the later adaptation, broadcast in colour in 1974, features superb performances from Leonard Rossiter, Bob Hoskins, Geoffrey Bayldon, Michael Bryant and Richard Beckinsale. The award-winning Speight was no stranger to controversy and remains best known for his 1966 sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, unleashing archetypal raging bigot Alf Garnett upon British viewers (many of whom, to Speight’s horror, sympathised with the views espoused by his comic creation). In this brave, frank and unconventional play, Speight takes a similar stance in questioning the entrenched beliefs and stereotyping that can all-too-easily lead to intolerance.The setting is a cemetery peopled by a collection of recognisable types. The central thread, concerning a young man who is ‘accused’ by a blind man of being black, opens an examination of race and religion, colour and creed, and death and disease. The play poses an eternally relevant question: is the desire for segregation an inherently human trait?
I'LL FLY AWAY
A period drama set in the late 1950's and early 1960's, it centred on the lives of a Southern district attorney and his African-American housekeeper during the Civil Rights movement. Sam Waterston played Forrest Bedford, a widower in the town of Bryland (state unknown) who hired Lilly Harper (Regina Taylor), to care for him and his children Nate and Francine (played by Jeremy London and Ashlee Levich respectively). Both Forrest and Lilly become more and more involved in the black community’s struggle for equal rights–Forrest as a prosecutor; Lilly as an activist. I’ll Fly Away was loved by critics but was never a mainstream hit, and the network pulled the series after two seasons. In an unusual move, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) funded a two-hour movie called I’ll Fly Away: Then and Now, which wrapped up the storylines left unresolved. It aired several months after the final series episode aired on NBC. PBS also aired each of the original episodes. Sam Waterston went on to co-star as prosecutor Sam McCoy on Law & Order, while Regina Taylor became a regular on The Unit and continues to act in films and on stage. The show’s title came from a 1929 Christian hymn written by Albert E. Brumley.
38 episodes of 30 minute duration. 1 special: 120 minutes. NBC 1991-93. PBS 1993
I'M DICKENS...HE'S FENSTER
I'm Dickens…He's Fenster followed the comic exploits of two construction workers and bosom buddies (played by John Astin and Marty Ingels). After producing thirty-two side-splittingly hilarious episodes, and despite critics' raves in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Time Magazine, the show was prematurely cancelled in its first season. By the time its final ratings came in, showing it having beaten Sing Along with Mitch and Route 66 for its time slot, it was too late to reassemble the cast, who had moved on to other projects. The successful and beloved show had become a casualty of timid programming and unlucky timing. Although short-lived, I'm Dickens…He's Fenster featured an extraordinary roster of guest stars, many of whom made their television debuts on the show including: Yvonne Craig ("Batgirl" from Batman), Harvey Korman (The Carol Burnett Show), Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H), Peter Lupus (Mission: Impossible), Lee Meriwether (Batman, The Time Tunnel), Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist), Edy Williams (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), and Jim Nabors (The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle USMC). The series also featured such directing talent as Arthur Hiller (Love Story, The In-Laws), Jay Sandrich (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls) , Norman Abbott, (The Munsters), Claudio Guzman (I Dream of Jeannie) and writers Mel Tolkin (Your Show of Shows, All in the Family), Don Hinkley (The Steve Allen Show, The Muppet Show) and Jay Sommers (Green Acres, Ozzie & Harriet). In addition to being creator, writer, director and producer on I'm Dickens…He's Fenster, Leonard Stern's remarkable career included writing for the Abbott and Costello and Ma and Pa Kettle movies, and the classic TV shows The Honeymooners, The Phil Silvers Show and The Steve Allen Show. From 1965-1970, Stern was executive producer, writer and director on the classic spy spoof Get Smart (starring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon). He also created, produced and directed the TV series He & She (co-starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss) and McMillan & Wife (starring Rock Hudson and Susan St. James). He also co-created the immensely popular series of children's game books, Mad Libs. In 2012 to commemorate the series 50th anniversary a 3 disc DVD set featuring over 10 hours of content never before released on DVD or VHS was made available by Lightyear Entertainment and can be purchased through Amazon.Com in the USA and Canada. This is not currently available in the UK. To purchase from Amazon.Com click: I'm Dickens...He's Fenster
32 episodes of 30 minute duration. ABC 1962 - 1963
Devised by David Croft this was an unscripted thirty minute comedy series in which the five members of the cast were presented with cards bearing the characters, situations and first lines which would form the basis of that week's show. From then on the rest was up to them. The performers were Betty Impey, Peter Reeves, Anne Cunningham, Victor Spinetti and Lance Percival and the 'card giver' known as Boss Man was Jeremy Hawk. The music was supplied by John Barry. The series only ran from April to June before disappearing from our screens but years later was revived in a somewhat altered form for BBC radio before returning to television as Whose Line Is It Anyway in which different guest performers each week would improvise short sketches suggested by a live studio audience.
6 shows of 30 minute duration. BBC2. 1964
THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF PROFESSOR BRANESTAWM
Professor Branestawm is a series of thirteen books written by the English author Norman Hunter. Written over a 50 year period, between 1933 and 1983, the children's books feature as protagonist the eponymous inventor, Professor Theophilus Branestawm, the classic bungling, fumbling, absent-minded scientist who dreams up useless inventions that would get him laughed out of the patent office. In 1969, actor Jack Woolgar brought Branestawm to life in this Thames Television produced series. Woolgar, who shaved his head for the part-"a bit chilly" he admitted-was a great fan of Branestawm having heard Hunter read the stories on the radio in Children's Hour. "I was a bit worried at first how Branestawm would go over on television becasue (the) series (was) sticking closely to the books, with no special visual gimmicks. Woolgar's co-stars in the series were the crazy Branestawm inventions designed by 28-year old Terry Gough, a set designer at Teddington Studios. Gough designed around 15 working machines for the series using stuff like an old kitchen colander, parts of a clock, a First World war soldier's helmet and sawn-in-half barrels. Helping Professor Branestawm bungle his screwball schemes were the very correct Colonel Dedshott (Paul Whitsun-Jones) and trying her best to keep the place tidy-and intact-while they carried out their experiments was their housekeeper, Mrs. Flittersnoop (Freda Dowie). The original stories were adapted for television by Trevor Preston.
30 minute episodes. Thames Television. 1969
Disbarred barrister Alex Lambert (Ian Hendry) used his connections with the underworld to pass information onto the police -for a price! This tense, pithy thriller lasted for two seasons and followed Lambert as he trod the precarious path between both sides of the law whilst keeping his wife (Heather Sears) ignorant of his true profession, posing instead as a business consultant. This wasn't the only secret he kept from her -as he was also having an affair with the girlfriend (Jean Marsh) of an unsuccessfully defended client, (whose case led to his disbarment). His one contact with the police was through DS Piper (Neil Hallett). Tony Selby also starred. The series was created by John Whitney and Geoffrey Bellman and produced by tella Richman (series 1) and Peter Collinson (series 2). Directors included Michael Lindsay-Hogg and a young Ridley Scott.
21 episodes of 25 minute duration. ITV 1966-67.
INSIDE GEORGE WEBLEY
The late great Roy Kinnear starred as George Meredith Webley, in this Yorkshire Television produced sitcom about a bank clerk who was guaranteed to add the word pooper to party and crushing to bore. George worked for the aptly named Meanside and Beestley Savings Bank in Leeds and in his spare time (actually in his work time, too) thought it his duty to bore everyone rigid, including his long-suffering wife, Rosemary (Patsy Rowlands), with trivia, perpetually worrying about everything in the world and complaining that he had suffered every illness known to man. George was the eternal pessimist and approached life with the attitude that if something was going to go wrong - it would! The series was the first of several collaborations between Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, which included a TV adaptation of the latter's solo novel 'Billy Liar' (Billy), Diana Dors' sitcom Queenie's Castle and an adaptation of Barbara Euphan Todd's eternal scarecrow stories featuring Worzel Gummidge (as played by Jon Pertwee). It was also notable for including something of a who's who of British character actors and comedians such as James Bolam, Peter Butterworth, Les Dawson, Clive Dunn, Hattie Jacques, Roy Hudd, Dandy Nichols, Graham Stark and Max Wall.
Made between 1959 and 1960, Interpol was based on the cases of the International Criminal Police Organisation, based in an office building in the Rue Paul Valery, just across from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The organisation began in 1914 when Prince Albert of Monaco invited police officers and lawyers to lay down the foundation of an international crime-busting organisation. However, plans were cut short by the start of World War 1 and it wasn't until 1923 that the organisation set to work as the International Criminal Police Commission, with headquarters in Vienna. In this series Hungarian born actor Charles Korvin appeared as Inspector Paul Duval, the central character who week in and week out sought out the perpetrators of criminal activity. Although only 39 half-hour episodes were filmed the series managed to tackle everything from murder to blackmail, drugs to hijacking and assassination to slavery. The show is perhaps best remembered for its opening title sequence in which a car crashes through a check-point barrier, setting the scene for the action packed adventures to follow.
39 episodes of 30 minute duration. Black & white. 1959-60.
Industrial espionage series starring Edward Judd who, as investigator Gavin Grant, was called upon to ferret out industrial spies in the world of big business. Based on an idea by Tony Williamson and made by ABC, the series never made it beyond the first season of 12 episodes largely due to the fact that the central character failed to capture the imagination of the viewing public. Grant was helped by his assistant/girlfriend Val (Caroline Mortimer). Producer Robert Banks Stewart would go on to bigger and better things.
12 episodes of 55 minute duration. ITV 1966.
THE INVISIBLE MAN
Directed by Pennington Richards who had previously worked on The Buccaneers and Ivanhoe and produced by Danger Man creator Ralph Smart, The Invisible Man was Dr Pete Brady, a scientist who had become victim of his own experiments into light refraction, leaving him permanently transparent. Unable to find a cure, Brady went to work for the British government. The series was notable for its special effects such as the self-smoking cigarette, and the self-drinking glass of wine. A self-driving car caused one motorist to almost have an accident when it pulled up alongside him at a set of traffic lights during location filming. An actor ran across to the car and, on opening the door, recoiled from an invisible blow. The onlooker’s reaction was so genuine that the production team kept it in the transmitted programme. The actor who played Brady never received a credit although his voice belonged to Tim Turner, and Lisa Daniely starred as his sister. Other cast members were Deborah Watling (who later went on to star as travelling companion Victoria Waterfield in Doctor Who), as Brady's niece, and Ernest Clark (Prof. Loftus in the sitcom Doctor In The House), as Brady's boss Colonel Ward. There was a US version in 1975 with Man From U.N.C.L.E. star, David McCallum.
Official Films/ITP/ATV. Black and white. 1958-59.
THE IRISH RM
The Irish RM starred Peter Bowles in a series of lively stories based on three novels by Irish cousins Edith Oenone Somerville and Violet Martin Ross, the first of which, 'Some Experiences of an Irish R.M.' became an international success when it was first published in 1899. Bowles starred as Major Sinclair Yeates, a retired British Army officer who moves to the west of Ireland at the turn of the century, to become a Resident Magistrate (a Justice of the Peace who assists local magistrates) and enjoy the quiet life. However, any thoughts he had of a peaceful existence are soon shattered by narrow-minded disputes, arguments about livestock and large portions of blarney. The gullible Yeates soon finds himself in hot water and being taken advantage of by his sly scheming landlord, Flurry Knox (Bryan Murray).
26 shows of 30 minute duration. C4 1983-85
IT'S A LIVING
It's a Living placed long-time comedy double-act Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris in a small general store where they had to be hard-working, thrifty and law-abiding if they wanted to make a living. Jimmy and Ben took over what they were told was 'a little gold mine,' but the only thing they struck really rich was trouble. Fanny Carby and 13-year old Adrienne Poster (later Posta) played the roles of Warris's wife and daughter. Poster had made her television debut a year before in the drama series Harper's West One, and had also appeared in the detective series Top Secret. In her later teens she became a very familiar face in the kind of British movies that typified the 'swinging 60s'. Also in this series was Lance Percival as a rather shifty character called 'Foxy.' Only four episodes were made and it was the last TV series for the two cousins who had first teamed up in 1934, although the act didn't finally break up until 1967. At that time both men planned to retire, but an offer from the BBC became the springboard for a second (and arguably more) successful run for Jimmy Jewel (the most memorable of which was the role of Eli Pledge in Nearest and Dearest). Ben Warris came out of retirement for one more TV appearance, the televised Royal Variety Show of 1980, and passed away at the age of 85 in 1993. Jewel (also born in 1909) survived him by two years.
4 shows of 30 minute duration. Associated Rediffusion. B&W. 1962.
IT'S A MAN'S WORLD
An hour-long comedy-drama now considered a cult classic, it told the story of four young men who lived on a houseboat. Wes Macauely (Glenn Corbett) was a pre-law college student who cared for his younger brother Howie (Mike Burns) after their parents were killed in a car wreck. Wes' fellow college buddy, Tom-Tom DeWitt (Ted Bessell)--who came from a wealthy family--lived with the group; by the second episode, Tom-Tom's friend Vern Hodges (Randy Boone) joined the gang on the houseboat they shared (called “The Elephant”) in the fictional college town of Cordetta. Wes was easily the most settled of the four; he worked at a gas station and had a fiancée, Irene Hoff (Jan Norris). The stories revolved around the personalities of the four young men—Wes' struggles to make ends meet; Tom-Tom's obsession with the fast life (and fast girls); Howie's coming-of-age; and Vern's free-spirit nature and talent with a guitar. It's A Man's World was ahead of its time in dealing with the differences between adults and youth, premarital sex, and the rise of feminism. While a minor cult favourite among college students, it could not succeed against ABC's entrenched Cheyenne or CBS' game show staples To Tell The Truth and I've Got A Secret. Despite letters urging NBC to stay with the show, the network yanked the series in late January 1963. All four of the young stars would go on to roles in other television series; one of the show's writers, Earl Hammer, would later find fame as creator of the now-iconic family drama The Waltons.
19 episodes NBC 1962-63
Izeena lives in her magic tree house in a world of animal friends. The animals share their secrets and adventures with Izeena and she alone can take you into the strange world of Charlie and Charlotte Chimp, Goodsense Gibbon, Huggable Potto and all her friends. This offbeat series from Anglia Television, shot on location in Africa, mixed fantasy with a wildlife conservation message in an attempt to educate viewers to the world around them. While its style was more Lewis Carroll Izeena was most likely influenced by Disney who excelled in this type of production. Playing Izeena, the zany girl who could talk to the animals, was Fenella Fielding who did not have the luxury of visiting the exotic locations in the filmed sequences. She was studio bound and looked at the animals through her telescope from her treehouse.
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