Drama series devised by Gerald Savory about three single girls sharing a London flat between the end of the 'swinging' sixties and the start of the 'glam' seventies. They were: posh cello-playing deb Victoria Edgecombe (Liza Goddard), failed actress Kate (Susan Jameson) and Cockney art student Avril (Angela Down). Each week the story concentrated on the ups and downs of one girl in particular (episode titles would sometimes reflect this-the first one was titled 'Kate, Stop Acting', episode three was 'Requiem For Cello In SW3') giving the series something of an anthology feel. Successful enough to return for a second series although when it did only Victoria remained (Kate had got married and Avril had taken a job in Paris) and she was now joined by new flatmates Jenny (Carolyn Seymour), a young journalist, and American psychology graduate Lulie (Barra Grant). A host of guest stars appeared in the series, among them Stephanie Cole, Peter Bowles, Sally Thomsett, Anthony Valentine and Maurice Denham were all on their way to television immortality. Eleven years later the original girls (and actresses) were reunited for Take Three Women - four episodes shown on BBC2. Victoria was a widow with a young daughter, single Kate had a 13-year old son and Avril owned an art gallery. Gerald Savoury produced the later series and the reunion was completed when the group Pentangle, who performed the original theme music ('Light Flight') reformed to provide the music once more.
15 episodes of 50 minute duration 1969-1971 Watch a clip of Take Three Girls
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TALES OF THE RIVER BANK
Canadian series that was shown in Britain from 1963 as part of the Watch With Mother strand, and repeated until 1971 when a new series of episodes were filmed. 'Riverbank' told the tales of Hammy The Hamster, Roderick The Rat, GP (a guinea pig) and their assorted animal friends. What made this series different was that there was no animation or puppets involved and the production team of Dave Ellison and Ray Billings used real rodents filmed at high speed, which was then played back slower to make their movements seem more deliberate and natural. The creatures homes were furnished as human homes and they transported themselves around in cars, planes or boats. The stories were dubbed by children's favourite Johnny Morris (Animal Magic). In the 1970's the series was aired by ITV which was then repeated on Channel 4 in 1993 as Further Tales of the Riverbank. 52 episodes of 30 minute duration. Black and white and colour. Canada 1960-64.
THE TED RAY SHOW
First TV series for one of Britain's most popular comedians, which mixed variety, Ray's excellent stand-up comedy routine and, later on, a selection of sketches including a series of domestic situations with Diane Hart as his wife and Kenneth Williams as his interfering brother-in-law. Born Charles Olden in Wigan in 1905 Ted Ray entered showbiz as a violinist by the name of Nedlo the Gypsy. In the early thirties he developed a style that mixed his playing with comedy ('fiddling and fooling' is how he was billed) and built up a good enough reputation for himself that by 1935 he landed his first film role. Influenced by a style favoured by US comedians Ted dropped the violin playing as his main speciality (although it still remained a part of his act) to concentrate on his comedy, delivering a fine line in steady quips and patter. He was one of the first (if not the first) British comedian to appear on stage in an ordinary lounge suit. In 1949 he became a household name when he was given his own BBC radio show "Ray's a Laugh", which was a combination of comedy and music. The series ran until 1961 and even after it ended Ted remained in demand. He performed at the London Palladium more times than anyone (except comedian Joe Church), was a regular guest on TV variety shows and the linchpin of the radio panel game "Does The Team Think?" Ted died in November 1977 less than two weeks before his 72nd birthday. His two sons followed him into show business; Andrew Ray an actor and Robin Ray a popular radio presenter.
28 episodes of 60 minutes duration B&W. BBC 1955-59.
1950s children's magazine programme which was shown on alternate Saturday's sharing the spot with Whirligig. Timothy Telescope was a sailor glove puppet who shared the limelight with a human presenter, Valerie Hobson. The series featured a wealth of personalities, small characters, adventures and sound, with a wholesome and practical education slant. Telescope focused the youngsters' attention on handicrafts as well as fairy tales; on painting and even dolls' dress design, as well as the outrageous adventures of Hank, the kindest little cowboy who ever galloped out of the Wild West on a wooden hoss. And when Telescope veered towards the historical it was out of the classroom into every child's home, where teapots and clothes were made to tell the history. Telescope was replaced by The Saturday Special in 1951 while Whirligig continued until 1956.
BBC Television. 1950 - 51.
THOMAS AND SARAH
When the saga of the upstairs Bellamy family and their downstairs servants in the BAFTA Award-winning series Upstairs Downstairs finally ended in 1975 there were, understandably, many ideas bandied about for spin-off series'. Two of the characters that the public had taken to heart were Thomas Watkins, the Bellamy's chauffeur, and Sarah, their nursery maid (played by real-life husband and wife John Alderton and Pauline Collins). At a memorial service for Cyril Bennett, the LWT Controller who had died in November 1976, his successor Michael Grade agreed to do a programme with Alderton and Collins. Former Upstairs Downstairs script editor Alfred Shaughnessy and series producer John Hawkesworth put forward the idea for Thomas and Sarah originally to be called In Confidence. Hawkesworth was commissioned to write a synopsis for the programme which became the only spin-off from Upstairs, Downstairs. In turns humorous, surreal and dramatic, with sharp, entertaining scripts Thomas and Sarah proved to be yet another success when first broadcast in 1979. Alfred Shaughnessy later wrote episodes for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Cedar Tree, The Irish R.M. and All Creatures Great and Small. John Hawkesworth produced the BBC drama The Duchess of Duke Street, and created as well as produced the 1979 Euston Films series Danger UXB for Thames Television. During the 1980s, he produced many television programmes including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Alderton and Collins later teamed up for another ITV series, Forever Green.
13 episodes of 60 minute duration. ITV 1979.
A chillingly realised and intense drama-documentary that harrowingly depicted the unimaginably grim events of the aftermath of a nuclear attack on Britain. Concentrating on a single city, Sheffield, the production presented the all too grim story of the nuclear strike from the a trio of viewpoints, two ordinary Sheffield families, the Beckett's and the Kemp's, and that of the city's peacetime Chief Executive and harried wartime controller, Clive Sutton. As the story unfolded, it deftly backtracked to trace the events of the four weeks that led up to the devastating nuclear exchange, as the East and West power blocs all too believably became drawn into war due to a crisis of control in the Middle East. In disturbingly, but never sensationally, graphic detail, it depicted the nightmarishly plausible inferno of suffering and chaos inflicted on the city and its population, before taking the scenario through the first post holocaust decade as the 'threads' of civilisation slowly unravelled before the audience's eyes. Writer Barry Hines and producer/director Mick Jackson employed masses of detailed scientific studies to chillingly telling effect to ensure that the production emerged as factual and starkly realistic as possible, in contrast to the high profile gloss of the similarly themed, American TV movie . Threads effortlessly evoked the haunting images of the banned BBC film The War Game. The city of Sheffield and its citizens also rose to the occasion by providing the production with more than 1000 volunteers to be 'victims'.
115 minutes A BBC Production. 1984.
THREE LIVE WIRES
Comedy series that chronicled the merry misadventures of the employees of a London based TV sales and repair shop. Most of the stories revolved around chief technician Mike, actor Michael Medwin, who had sprung to fame as Springer in the popular Granada series The Army Game. His two co-workers were fellow Londoner George played by George Roderick and Northerner Malcolm, played by Bernard Fox who later gained TV fame in the USA, first as Malcolm Meriwether on The Andy Griffith Show and then as the bumbling Col. Crittenden on Hogan's Heroes. All three actors had appeared in an earlier sitcom called The Love Of Mike. A fourth TV repairman was Higgenbottom played by Derek Benfield and Deryck Guyler (most famously the school caretaker, Potter, in Please Sir!) was the shop manager. Unusually for a British sitcom the series ran to a continuous 26 episodes and each of them featured a special guest star of the calibre of Peter Vaughan, Dudley Moore, Dickie Henderson, Arthur Lowe, and a young Ronnie Corbett.
26 episodes of 30 minute duration. Black and white. ITV. 1961.
At first sight there appears to be no apparent reason why Redlow Comprehensive School should be different from any other school of its kind. Until, that is, a strange television transmission has one pupil walking a tightrope of fear. The sixth form students are busy studying for their exams when a television broadcast they are watching is interrupted by a picture of their school and the following announcement is heard: "I have a message for you. How well do you know your staff?...Who and what are they?...Can you trust them?...I am the voice of truth." Tightrope (from ATV) was the creation of Victor Pemberton whose previous writing credits included Dr. Who and Ace of Wands, and starred 18 year-old Spencer Banks as Martin Clifford, a sixth form student who unwillingly becomes involved in the ruthless world of espionage from the moment he is knocked from his bicycle as he returns to school one afternoon. Banks had previously scored with younger viewers as young Simon Randall in the Sci-Fi series Timeslip. The two other main characters in Tightrope were Forrester (played by John Savident, later to star as butcher Fred Elliot in Coronation Street), a somewhat eccentric character who kept the viewers wondering just which side he worked for, and Harvey (David Munro) -a teacher of sixth form pupils. Also appearing is a young Sue Holderness, later famous as Boycie's other half, Marlene in Only Fools and Horses and Green, Green Grass. Adding to the drama was an isolated Airforce base where unusual activities seemed to have some link with the mysterious happenings at Redlow School and a local shop-keeper who also hid a mysterious secret. The questions that arose from this tense and exciting serial were littered with red herrings and each episode ended on a cliffhanger, the truth not being unearthed until the final episode. The series was originally made in colour, but copies of these were lost or destroyed. However, in 2011, Network DVD released the complete series of episodes from available film elements, sadly all in monochrome. However, it does give viewers a chance to view this children's drama series once again.
13 episodes of 30 minute duration. 1972
Mike Connors starred as a fast-talking undercover agent whose only way to tackle organised crime was to stay completely anonymous, even from the law enforcement agencies he helped out as he infiltrated the underworld. This was the "tightrope" he walked. He was as likely to be shot by the police as the criminal underworld. He never used the same name twice and his identity changed with each episode. The undercover agent was going to be called Nick Stone, but this idea was dropped and he would only ocassionally be referred to as Nick. The show was to have originally been titled Undercover Man but it was changed before the first episode aired. To give Nick an an edge, in addition to a gun in a shoulder holster, he carried a second holstered gun hidden behind his back. Although the show was very popular it was also criticised for its excessive use of violence. The first seven episodes featured enough hardware to equip a small army; three sawn-off shotguns, fourteen .32 caliber snub-nosed police revolvers, two army-issue .45 caliber automatic pistols, one Thompson sub-machine gun, one .25 caliber Beretta automatic pistol, four tear-gas guns, one razor, twelve switchblades, four pairs of knuckledusters, two hypodermic needles and five gallons of theatrical blood. Despite consistently high ratings Tightrope was dropped after just one season because the sponsor didn't want to be associated with a programme that seemed to sanction violence. There was briefly a plan to create a different version of the show called The Expendables, but it did not survive past the pilot stage. Connors later went on to star as another popular TV cop, Joe Mannix, in the long-running CBS television series, Mannix. Tightrope was so popular in Mexico during the early 1960s that a local recording company, Discos Orfeon, released a 45 rpm single of Connors singing in Spanish.
30 minute episodes. CBS 1959 - 1960
Based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Tinderbox tells the story of a poor soldier who meets a witch on his return from battle. The witch promises him gold if he recovers an old tinderbox from a hollow tree. After a quarrel he makes off with the gold without handing over the tinderbox and sets himself up in a neighbouring town. His generosity enables the town to flourish but when his fortune dwindles he is left only with the friendship of the poor and the tinderbox. He uses the tinderbox to summon three hounds who are ready to grant his wishes and sets about helping a princess, imprisoned in the castle by the king because she would marry a humble soldier rather than a noble prince. The series originated from Germany in 1959 (titled Das Feuerzeug) and was shown in the UK on the BBC under the umbrella title Tales from Europe. A special-edition DVD featuring the original German version with English subtitles together with the previously unreleased English dubbed version, and prepared using remastered transfers, was released by Network in 2011.
THE TINGAREE AFFAIR
The struggle behind a country's negotiations to gain independence from Britain forms the unusual theme for this late 1960s 7-part drama serial. The Tingaree Affair is packed with mystery and action as two young people fight to ensure that the British state of Tingaree gains her indepenence but does not fall under the dictatorship of neighbouring Caris. Eager to exploit Tingaree's valuable mineral sources, Caris plans to wreck the independence talks in London. A tramp hanging around the Tingaree High Commission in England first alerts the suspicions of the High Commissioner's son Martin (David Ballantyne), and with the help of Sandy (Vivienne Cohen), daughter of the Commission chauffeur, he sets out to investigate. They are to need all their inventiveness as they match wits with the sinister Torres (Leon Lissek) and the murderously clever Drew (Valentine Palmer). And the High Commissioner (Peter Arne) has engaged a new handyman - but there is something suspicious about him... Episode three was noteworthy for featuring legendary BBC sound broadcaster Alvar Lidell, then just recently departed from the BBC as head announcer. In a career spanning many years, he had become the epitome of polished newscasting and interviewing. It was during the Second World War that the BBC named its previously anonymous announcers and newsreaders - to distinguish them from enemy propagandists. “Here is the News, and this is Alvar Lidell reading it” became an inadvertent catchphrase. Recordings of Lidell's news bulletins have been included in many films set in Britain during WW2, such as Battle of Britain. He added his legendary tones to The Tingaree Affair as a TV interviewer speaking to the High Commissioner.
7 episodes of 30 minute duration. Thames Television. 1969
TINGHA AND TUCKER
Former ATV continuity announcer Jean Morton received two koala-bear stuffed toys in 1962 and created a series around them that became a massive success. When The Tingha and Tucker Club was formed it attracted 750,000 members until finally, ATV, unable to cope with the volume of mail, were forced to close it. The original toys were replaced by puppets and Peter Harris, one of the puppeteers, went on to direct The Muppet Show as well as creating another children's favourite 'Tiswas.' In 1970 the show was finally cancelled and soon after Tingha and Tucker were stolen from a store cupboard at ATV, never to be seen again. Very few tapes of the original series, which varied in length from ten to twenty minutes and preceded early afternoon children's programmes, five days a week, have survived.
? episodes of varied length. ATV 1962-70.
TO ROME WITH LOVE
John Forsythe (post-Bachelor Father; pre-Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty) starred in this gentle situation comedy from Don Fedderson, the man who brought viewers My Three Sons and Family Affair. Forsythe played Michael Endicott, a widowed college professor living in Iowa with three growing daughters–Alison (Joyce Menges); Penny (Susan Neher) and Mary Jane (Melanie Fullerston). His wife’s death led Michael to take an teaching job at the American Overseas School in Rome. Despite their reluctance, the girls agreed to live in Italy. Michael’s single sister Harriet (Kay Medford) went with the family during the first season, always trying to get them to return to Iowa. Peggy Mondo and Vito Scotti played neighbors Mama Vitale and Nico. To Rome With Love was a marginal performer in its first season, but CBS renewed the series for a second year after Medford was replaced by veteran character actor Walter Brennan (The Real McCoys). He played Andy Pruitt, Michael’s father-in-law who came for a visit and stayed indefinitely. Unfortunately, such was not the case for the series, which ended in September 1971. A bit of trivia: For its second season, To Rome With Love moved from Sunday nights to Tuesdays. In January 1971, “Rome” was moved–again–to Wednesday nights, making room for a new sitcom on Tuesdays at 9:30 PM. That comedy, All In The Family, went on to become one of the most successful and controversial series in US television history.
48 episodes. CBS. 1969-71
TOM GRATTAN'S WAR
Another quality offering from the golden age of children's television drama, 'Tom Grattan's War' was a period piece, set at the time of the First World War and told the tale of a 16 year-old London lad (Michael Howe) who is too young to help his country in the far off fields of Flanders, so is therefore set to work on a farm to help with the nation's food production. While Tom's father is fighting in Europe his mother is helping the war effort by working in a munitions factory. For his part, Tom is sent on a long journey to Yorkshire where he will learn the ways of the country. Upon his arrival at the Kirkby's moorland farm Tom discovers that it is situated near a prisoner of war camp where many German captives are put to work in the local quarries. It's not long before Tom witnesses a number of locals venting their anger on the prisoners and the youngster is faced with a number of moral dilemmas. Are the locals justified in their actions? Should Tom help these POWs when he discovers a planned attack in retaliation for the death of a local on the battlefield? Along with the Kirkby's daughter, Julie (Sally Adcock), Tom shares numerous adventures involving espionage, kidnapping and plain old skulduggery. For the last episode Yorkshire television pulled out all the stops to end the series with a spectacular plane crash.
26 episodes of 30 minute duration. Yorkshire Television. 1968-70.
The files of the oldest weekly newspaper in the American South-West provided the material for Tombstone Territory. Pat Conway starred as Sheriff Clay Hollister whose quickness on the draw was said to be legendary in Tombstone (the town too tough to die), Arizona. The actor, a 6ft 2in. Californian of Irish descent had previously appeared at the Old Vic in a Shakespearian production. Richard Eastham appeared as the newspaper (Tombstone Territory) boss Harris Claibourne as well as lending his voice as host/narrator of the series. ABC cancelled the series in 1959 but it continued for one more year in syndication.
91 episodes of 30 minute duration. ABC. Black and white. 1957-59.
William Franklyn as Peter Dallas, an Englishman brought up in Argentina and now a British Intelligence agent. He has been granted a year's leave and is engaged by South American businessman Miguel Garetta (Patrick Cargill) to act wherever the official forces of law and order cannot or will not do so. Dallas, usually aided by Garetta's nephew (Alan Rothwell) travels all over the picturesque Pampas pitting his wits against villians in cities and villages. To bring beautiful backgrounds to the ITV screen, a film unit headed by director Ian Fordyce went out to Argentina with Franklyn, a 35-year old ex-paratrooper. They spent eight weeks in the most exciting locations they could visit. They started in Buenos Aires. "The hardest thing there was crossing the road," said Franklyn. "It's a city where the insurance premiums for pedestrians should be higher than for motorists." Meanwhile, on the French Riviera, Patrick Cargill was relaxing, getting himself fit for the series. "Garetta is extremely rich," he said, "and as I'm far from rich a certain amount of acting will be required!" This is the show that turned William Franklin into a star and eventually made him one of the most familiar faces on British television through a series of advertisements for the soft drink company Schweppes. The commercial's 'Shh! You know who' cathphrase immediately caught on and proved to be one of the most successful advertising campaigns of the 1960s. Patrick Cargill went on to specialise in TV sitcom and is especially remembered as the father in 'Father, Dear Father' and Alan Rothwell starred in 'Coronation Street' as Ken Barlow's brother, David. The serial's catchy South American sounding theme tune, 'Sucu Sucu', became a top ten hit in 1961 for composer Laurie Johnson.
60 minute episodes Associated Rediffusion. B&W. 1961-62. Top Secret on the cover of TV Times - 1961
THE TOP SECRET LIFE OF EDGAR BRIGGS
David Jason starred as the hapless and equally hopeless espionage agent Edgar Briggs, who is transferred to the Secret Intelligence Service as result of an administrative error. The first episode set the tone for what was to follow with Briggs falling over furniture and getting soaked whilst fully clothed in a Turkish bath. What set the series apart was the weekly dose of stunts, many of which Jason insisted on doing himself, including taking a dive from several storeys up to the ground. The series was specially written for Jason by Bernard McKenna and Richard Laing at the behest of producer Humphrey Barclay, who had 'discovered' David performing in a theatre on Bournemouth pier and introduced him to the British public via Do Not Adjust Your Set. With a little luck, a lot of patriotism and the love of his wife, Jennifer, Edgar Briggs, assistant to the Commander, bumbled his way through 13 episodes. It led the Daily Mirror's then TV critic Stan Sayer to declare, "David is a modern Buster Keaton with most of that great silent film actor's gift of timing, rhythm and skill." The series was not, as often stated, inspired by the US sitcom Get Smart, as Bernard McKenna told Television Heaven: "We'd never seen 'Get Smart.' However I had written a TV play for Ronnie Barker and David Jason called 'The Odd Job.' "I was dying to write for DJ again and was encouraged to come up with an idea. What I came up with was a silly version of The Three Musketeers lots of stuff for DJ to do with swords and hats etc. Humphrey Barclay said it would be too expensive to make, we then thought of an inept Security Service man as the D'Artagnan character who always won his case. We gave him a boss (King Louis) and three assistants (musketeers) including a fat one (Porthos). "We only made one series of The Top Secret Life of Edgar Briggs and Get Smart was always mentioned, it was only years later I saw it and didn't think they were similar at all!"
13 shows of 30 minute duration. ITV 1974.
The first fantasy series to appear on US television found its way to the small screen from a 1930's novel, 'The Jovial Ghosts,' by Thorne Smith, via a big screen production by the legendary Hal Roach Studios starring Cary Grant ('Topper'-1937), two subsequent sequels ('Topper Takes a Trip'-1938, 'Topper Returns'-1941), and an NBC radio series ('The Adventures of Topper'). The story centred around ageing bank clerk Cosmo Topper, who, at the beginning of the tale was considering the purchase of a house previously owned by George and Marion Kerby; a fun loving couple that had been tragically killed on a skiing holiday in Switzerland. As they passed to the other side the two of them, and their pet St Bernard dog, Neil, returned to their home in spirit form making themselves visible to Cosmo, in order to convince him to stay. And stay he did for 78 episodes between 1953 and 1955 as the dull banker who gradually discovered a lighter side to life under the influence and company of George and Marion. British born actor Leo G. Carroll starred as Cosmo Topper, years before returning to television as Mr Waverly in 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.', Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys (real-life newlyweds as the series started) appeared as the fun-loving and sometimes mischievous ghosts. Lee Patrick was Cosmo's poor and sometimes bemused wife, Henrietta, whilst bank manager Mr Schuyler (Thurston Hall), and maids Katie (Kathleen Freeman) and Maggie (Edna Skinner) all had occasion to question Topper's sanity. The early use of trick camera techniques gave George, Marion and Neil ghostly effects and objects moved seemingly of their own accord. The series was a hit with viewers and was also shown in Britain in the early days of ITV, although only 36 episodes were purchased. There have been several attempts to revive the series on TV, all unsuccessful.
78 episodes of 30 minutes duration. Black and White. 1953-1955.
TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL
An inspirational drama in the Highway to Heaven tradition, this CBS series featured angels sent down to earth to help others. It proved to be even more popular, lasting nine seasons. Monica (Roma Downey) was an angel to help guide those who faced a personal crisis. Her supervisor was Tess (Della Reese), helping Monica avoid rookie mistakes in her quest to rise from angel to supervisor. Starting in the series’ third season, John Dye became a regular as the angel of death. Veteran television performer Valerie Bertinelli played Gloria, a new rookie angel, during the show’s final seasons.
Touched by an Angel was slotted in a bad time slot during its first season, making it a candidate for cancellation. But a time shift saved the programme, and it later became an anchor on CBS’ Sunday night schedule–an appropriate time on a day when most people went to church. In the series finale, Monica finally won her promotion to supervisor. 'Angel' featured a number of guest stars over the years, most playing the people Monica and Tess tried to help. The show spawned a spin-off series, Promised Land, with Gerald McRaney and Wendy Phillips as a couple who travelled the country with their children and helped other people along the way. 'Land' lasted for three seasons and there were cast crossovers with 'Angel' during its run. Della Reese, whose career began as a singer with such hits as "Don’t You Know" and "That Reminds Me" in the late 1950's, performed the show’s theme song, "Walk with You."
211 episodes of 60 minute duration. CBS 1994-2003
THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW
Better-known as the birthplace of The Simpsons, this half-hour comedy sketch show was also a wonderful showcase for the talents of its British-born star. Tracy Ullman first came to America’s attention as a singer with her 1984 top-ten single 'They Don’t Know.' Although Ullman rejected a number of proposals for an American series, her agent sent copies of her TV work in the UK (including Three Of A Kind and Girls On Top) to producer James L. Brooks. He was taken with her abilities and struck a deal with the new Fox network for a series built around Ullman. The result was a variety programme featuring sketches and musical numbers with a regular supporting cast–Dan Casttellaneta, Sam McMurray, Anna Levine, Joseph Malone and Julie Kavner (the best known of the group, thanks to her role as sister Brenda on Rhoda). Each week, Ullman portrayed various characters in a variety of skits. Among some of her recurring characters was Francesca, a 14-year-old girl raised by two gay dads; aging actress Sandra Decker; Australian pro golfer Kiki Howard-Smith; radio announcer Summer Storm; and singer Angel Tish. (Ullman eventually performed a total of 108 characters!) The Tracey Ullman Show made its debut the same night as Married...With Children, as the first prime time offerings of Fox Broadcasting in the spring of 1987. But the series was more of a prestige vehicle than a rating draw; it was the first Fox series to win a major Emmy award. The show’s choreographer, Paula Abdul (before her success on records and her stint as an American Idol judge) also won an Emmy. Every week, the show ended with Ullman wearing a bathrobe, telling her live studio audience to Go home! After she series ended in 1990, Ullman became an American citizen and went on to roles in a number of films; she also had her own sketch comedy series on pay cable networks HBO and Showtime, continuing to win audience favour and Emmy awards.
Tracey Ullman was also the incubator for cartoonist Matt Groening’s strange yellow family. The Simpsons started as animated bumpers that ran between the skits and the commercials. They were upgraded to short features in the second and third seasons; by Season Four, Brooks finally talked Fox into spinning off the characters into their own series–first with a Christmas special in late 1989, followed by the regular series a few weeks later. And so a television legend was born. Ullman–who famously said she had breast-fed those little devils on her show-- later sued for a portion of The Simpsons’ considerable profits. A settlement was eventually reached but terms were never disclosed.
79 episodes of 30 minute duration. Fox. 1987-1990
THE TYRANT KING
Mystery thriller in which three children and their dog track a villian around London after finding an empty wallet in a dark old house and overhearing a strange telephone call about the mysterious "Uncle Gerry" (Murray Melvin). The children involved are Peter Thorne (Kim Fortune), Bill Hallen (Eddie McMurray) and his sister Charlotte (Candy Glendenning). Philip Madoc starred as "Scarface". The series was adapted for television by Trevor Preston from a book by Aylmer Hall, the full title of which is 'The Tyrant King a London Adventure', which was published by British Transport! Indeed, one can only wonder if they (or the London Tourist Board) commisioned it in the first place as the adventure takes in all the London sites one might be able to travel to by bus or underground train - such as Buckingham Palace, down the Mall to St. James's Park, Westminster Abbey and The War Museum. The series is memorable for those who watched it for its contemporary soundtrack which included music from The Rolling Stones, The Nice, The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. And there the tale might end, except The Tyrant King has a very significant place in British television history. It was the first of three series produced by the newly formed Thames Television to be shot on location on 16mm film as an experiment to test the viability of setting up a small film production unit within the company. The subsidary company would eventually be called Euston Films and would go on to produce some of Britain's best loved drama series such as The Sweeney, Minder and Widows.
30 minute episodes. Thames Television. Black and white*. 1968. * Although originally shown in black and white, Network DVD released this in December 2011 in colour for the first time, having transferred it from original film materials.