Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge is a fictional character from the short stories and novels of P. G. Wodehouse. And while Ukbridge (pronounced Ewkridge) never enjoyed the same popularity as Bertie Wooster and Jeeves here was another of the author's amiable eccentric characters from the 1920s bought to life in exemplary style by the BBC. Ukridge is a bounder, a schemer and an outrageous conman who will do anything for financial gain - as long as it doesn't involve working. He is an opportunist who never passes up a chance to exploit any kindness shown to him. And yet, as with so many other television rogues down the years, the viewing public took him straight to their collective heart, due in no small part to the amiable performance of Anton Rodgers in the lead role, suitably accompanied by Julian Holloway as his chum, Corky, and Marian Spencer as Aunt Julia. Richard Waring adapted Wodehouse's scripts for television. Wodehouse must have retained a certain fondness for him; his last appearance in a Wodehouse story being was as late as 1966.
7 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC TV. 1968.
The bawdy tales of ancient Rome as told by Lurcio (Frankie Howerd), slave to the womanising senator Ludicrus Sextus (Max Adrian, and later Wallas Eaton). The show was loosely based on the Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbhart and Stephen Sondheim musical 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum', in which Howerd had starred on the London stage. Written by Carry On stalwart Talbot Rothwell, the series featured lots of women showing lots of cleavage, awful puns and smutty asides crudely but brilliantly delivered by Howerd, who 'oohed' and 'aahed' through every episode in the camp comic style that made him a cult figure in his later years. Howerd was a past master at the double entendre and in this series he had the chance to relish in it. Each show started with 'The Prologue', where Howerd participated with his audience and let them in to his confidence whilst bringing them up to date with the comings and goings in Ancient Rome, until he was interrupted by Senna, The Soothsayer (Jeanne Mockford), who would reveal that weeks plot in the form of a prediction. From that moment on Howerd would have to contend with his master, his master's wife (Elizabeth Larner) and their offspring (Kerry Gardner and Georgina Moon), as poor Lurcio became the innocent pawn in their lusty machinations.
Popular enough on television to generate a 1975 feature film and a 45 minute Easter special (Further Up Pompeii) in the same year. LWT made a one-off special in 1991 (Up Pompeii's Missus), a revival that failed to recapture the feel of the original. A sequel, Whoops Baghdad, followed Pompeii in 1973.
14 shows of 30 to 35 minutes duration. 1970.
VAN DER VALK
British made detective series starring Barry Foster in the title role as Dutch detective Commissaris Piet Van der Valk. The series was based on the novels of Nicolas Freeling (the first of which was published in 1962) but this was not the detective's first screen outing, having first appeared in a 1968 British made b-movie entitled 'Amsterdam Affair' featuring German actor Wolfgang Kieling in the main role. Following the TV series debut in 1972 a Dutch language version was made by Filmking in 1973, 'Because of the Cats' was a Dutch/Belgian co-production starring British actor Bryan Marshall and there was also a Franco-German series of made-for-TV movies starring Frank Finlay: 'Van der Valk und das Mädchen' (1972), 'Van der Valk und die Reichen' (1973), and 'Pas de frontières pour l'inspecteur: Le bouc émissaire' (1975). But it is Barry Foster's portrayal which is best remembered as the moody blond, curly haired detective who works for the local CID. Also memorable was the beautifully filmed extensive Amsterdam location shots which acted as a backdrop for the investigation of such gritty cases of drugs, prostitution and murder. After an initial two-year run (6 episodes in 1972 and 7 episodes in 1973) the series disappeared from our screen for four years returning in 1977 in a longer, twelve-episode, third series made by Thames Television's subsidary, Euston Films. The format was revived once again towards the end of Thames' life as a part of the ITV network, with four two-hour episodes of the fourth series in January and February 1991, and the fifth series three two-hour episodes in February 1992 in a longer two-hour format. The series signature tune, Eye Level played by the Simon Park Orchestra, reached number one in the UK singles charts in 1973.
25 episodes of 60 minute duration and 4 of 120 minutes. Thames Television. 1972-73. 1977. 1991-92.
Underworld investigations series based on an idea and format by writers Brian Degas (co-creator of Colditz) and Tudor Gates and starring Italian actor Stelio Candelli as ex-Mafia man turned investigator, Danny Scipio. The series, produced by the BBC, ran for two seasons (between 1966 and 1968) and was filmed mainly on location in Malta, which doubled (trebled or even quadrupled for that matter) for any of the foreign locations where the particular episode was meant to be set. Scipio was aided by fellow crime-busting partner Angelo James (Neil McCallum), and the series featured a number of British actors in supporting roles. (Kenneth Cope is featured in the above photograph with Candelli and McCallum from left to right). Kieron Moore took over as Mike Hammond, a District Attorney, half-way through the last series when Neil McCallum's character Angelo James was badly wounded in an ambush. All 36 episodes were produced by William Slater whose other TV credits include Maigret, Drama Playhouse and The Onedin Line.
36 shows of 50 minute duration. 1966-1968.
Based on a 1901 Owen Wister novel of the same name, 'The Virginian' was TV's first feature length Western series, running at 90 minutes per episode and previously told thrice on the big screen, the most notable being a 1929 production that kick-started the career of Gary Cooper. Set on the Shiloh Ranch in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, the stories centred around the ranch foreman known only as 'The Virginian' (James Drury) and his impulsive young friend Trampas (Doug McClure), one of a supporting cast of ranch hands. Originally Judge Henry Garth owned the ranch, (Hollywood screen star Lee J. Cobb) before passing into the hands of brothers John and Clay Grainger (Charles Bickford and John McIntire, respectively). With the arrival of the next owner (Colonel Alan McKenzie -another big Hollywood name -Stewart Grainger), the series setting was moved on to the 1890's and the show was re-titled The Men From Shiloh. Many other top stars of the day passed through and these included George C Scott, Robert Redford, Bette Davis, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Lee Marvin and Ryan O'Neal. Even the production and writing teams were littered with famous names such as Sam Fuller, Ida Lupino and Glen A Larson.
*Owen Wister's book was the first Western novel to be published, spurring a revolution in publishing that has not stopped to this day. The Western novel business has turned out more pages and earned more revenue than any other genre!
*"The Virginian" hotel in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, literally filled with antiques, was named after the novel in honour of Owen Wister. (additional information Scott deBeaubien of Denver, Colorado).
208 shows of 90 minute duration. 1962-1970.
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER
Developed from a single Comedy Playhouse presentation, The Walrus and the Carpenter starred veteran actors Felix Aylmer and Hugh Griffith as a mismatched pair of septuagenarians who discover they have one common aim; to live their remaining years to the fullest by quite literally 'living it up.' Aylmer played the wonderfully named Gascoigne Quilt, a highly literate retired schoolteacher, whilst Griffith played Luther Flannery, a womanising alcoholic who is completely illiterate. What draws them together at first is the fact that each possesses qualities the other wants, and while Flannery can improve his social standing by getting an education from his new schoolteacher friend, Griffith is equally keen to be educated by his Irish pal in the lessons of life. And so the pair set off on a number of adventures, normally embarked upon on the spur of the moment. The pilot, (originally to have been titled 'You're Only Old Once') as well as the series was written by Marty Feldman and Barry Took but due to contractual obligations Took's name did not appear on the credits for the pilot. A number of guest actors (they had not become stars yet) appeared throughout the 6-episode run, including Warren Mitchell and Ronnie Barker. Years later the same theme was revisited even more successfully by Roy Clarke in Last of the Summer Wine.
6 episodes of 25 minute duration 1965. Pilot 35 minutes duration 1963.
WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE
The series that set Steve McQueen off on the road to super-stardom drew on the real life exploits of the bounty hunters of the late 19th century, a small band of indepentent men who earned their living from the rewards offered for the capture of wanted criminals, whether they be dead or alive. These men were virtually a law unto themselves and few of them felt any emotion when tracking and capturing those with a price on their head. Josh Randall was no exception to this rule, and his portrayal as the mean-and-moody man-of-little-words was almost a blueprint for the future screen persona of McQueen. Randall wasn't equipped with the usual type of gun and instead armed himself with a wicked sawn-off carbine referred to as a "Mare's Leg" -a cross between a handgun and a rifle that handled like a pistol but had an explosive impact when it found its target. Randall acquired a sidekick in the form of Jason Nichols (Wright King) for a brief period of time before going it alone for the final season. The series was developed from an episode of another Western series, Trackdown (starring Robert Culp of I Spy fame), which ran from 1957-59. Trackdown was taken from the records of the Texas Rangers thereby winning it the official approval of the state of Texas (the only show ever to have this distinction) and the episode in which Randall first appeared was entitled 'Bounty'. Wanted: Dead or Alive was computer-colourized in the 1980's for US syndication and although 94 episodes were made between 1958 and 1961, it didn't debut in Britain until 1985!
94 episodes of 30 minute duration. Black and White. 1958-1961.
WAR ON CRIME
One of the first crime series on British television, War on Crime was a six-part docu-drama produced by Robert Barr and written by Guy Morgan and Percy Hoskins. The idea for the series came about when Morgan was conducting research at Scotland Yard for a Twentieth Century Fox film, and realised the potentially dramatic material that was available in the Metropolitan Police's crime files. He discussed the idea with Barr, and they enlisted Hoskins, a former crime reporter for the Daily Express, who was on good terms with a number of senior police officers. The first episode, Gold Thieves, recounted the true story of a bullion robbery in 1948 at Heathrow Airport, where thieves tried to steal gold bullion to the value of a quarter of a million pounds, but were ambushed by officers. The second story, Woman Unknown, was introduced, like all the others in the series, by a voice-over. In this case, it told viewers: "This is the story of a murder. A murder, apparently, without a clue. Unpremeditated and followed by meticulous skill in concealment, the detection of which, for sheer tenacity and perseverance, has few equals in the records of Scotland Yard." Having set the scene, the story then unfolds in dramatised format, using actors to show the original police investigation in the case of a woman's body, washed up in a London canal, and how they go through the processes of identification, the means of finding out how she died, and by whose hands. The murder, for petty theft, of an Oxford widow, was reconstructed to show how the culprit was finally brought to justice entirely by circumstantial evidence. Another programme in the series revealed the use of pathology in crime detection, and was based on the real facts behind a number of sensational murder arrests, including that of John George Haigh, the acid-bath murderer. Each programme was introduced with a graphic of a caption 'War on Crime' with a flashing atop a police box, rising behind it, and a policeman walking by the box. War on Crime was broadcast monthly, and its influence can be clearly understood on police procedural series' that followed it in the 1950s and beyond.
6 episodes. BBC 1951
50's comedy series from the pens of Denis Norden and Frank Muir and starring Jimmy Edwards who had been awarded the DFC during the war when he fought with the RAF. Edwards, whose trademark was a magnificent handle-bar moustache, had been a radio star since the 1940's as Pa Glum, but it was for his role as Professor Jimmy Edwards, the corrupt, crafty and cane swishing headmaster of Chiselbury School for which he will always be most famously remembered. His bullying tactics were not confined simply to his students, and members of his staff were given a particularly rough ride, especially his weedy right-hand man, Mr. Pettigrew (played by Arthur Howard, brother of movie star Leslie). During it's initial four-year run Kenneth Cope (Marty Randall in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)), and Peter Glaze of Crackerjack fame appeared regularly. A cinema version 'Bottoms Up' was released in 1960. and the series itself was revived in 1971.
55 episodes of 30 minute duration. B&W and Colour. BBC TV 1956-60 and 1971-72.
WHAT'S A MOTHER FOR?
Angela (June Whitfield), whose husband is abroad, wakes to find she has been sharing a bed with a strange man. The lady's embarrassment is not eased when she discovers her bed-mate dead. Her first thought is to dial 999, but with the wild illogic that afflicts the mind in moments of crisis (at least in comic plays), she persuades herself that the police can be kept out of this. Her mother (Mona Washbourne), the genial Pete (popular musician Joe Brown) from Happy Housewives Cleaning Service, and fussy Mrs. Katapodis (Claire Davenport) conspire to dispose of the body. This was Charles Laurence's first play and also a new venture for Joe Brown, who was making his first drama appearance. The play was broadcast under the Armchair Theatre strand on 20 January 1969 at 8.30pm.
60 minutes duration. ITV 1969.
Beginning in November 1950, Whirligig was billed in the Radio Times as "the first Children's Variety Magazine Programme." The series was broadcast live from the BBC's Lime Grove stuios and alternated every other Saturday afternoon with, at first, Telescope, and later, The Saturday Special. Whirligig was devised by Michael Westmore and fronted by Humphrey Lestocq with the help, or more precisely, the hinderance of a string puppet called Mr Turnip, who was manipulated by puppeteer Joy Laurey and voiced by Peter Hawkins (Laurey, Lestocq and Hawkins are pictured with Mr Turnip). The series pinned its faith in the love of children for fun, magic and blood-and-thunder thrills. For the latter of these children were invited to write their own potted thrillers in a section called (appropriately) Write It Yourself. Other features included Box of Tricks (a conjuring slot) and a Western strip cartoon Hank Rides Again. Other Whirligig regulars were Steve Race at the piano and Edmundo Ros featuring in Room for Music while Rolf Harris made his TV debut with Willoughby, a drawing board character which sprang to life. There was also a helicopter-themed travel quiz called Flying Visit which transported viewers over seas as well as through years gone by.
BBC Television. 1950 - 56.
THE WHITE HORSES
Enchanting children's series originally made in 1965 as a collaboration between RTS (Radio Television Serbia) of Belgrade and BR-TV of Munich. 'The White Horses' followed the adventures of Julia, a fifteen-year old girl, played by Helga Anders, who leaves Belgrade to spend a holiday with her uncle Dimitri (Helmuth Schnider), on his stud farm where, with the help of head groom Hugo (Franz Muxeneder), he trains valuable white Lappizaners. In the opening story, Boris, one of the horses is stolen by gypsies who dye his white coat brown so that no one will recognise him. Julia and Hugo set off to find Boris and upon his recovery an affinity is formed between girl and horse thus setting the scene for the 12 hour-long adventures that followed. The series was originally shown in Germany as 'Ferien in Lipizza' and in Slovenian it is known as 'Poèitnice v Lipici'. It didn't reach the UK until 1968 when the BBC began broadcasting a dubbed English language version at 5.20pm on Monday afternoons. Although the series still exists on film (in Germany) it is thought that the English soundtrack has long since been lost. Most people remember the evocative theme song, 'White Horses,' sung by Jacky, which reached number 10 in the pop charts in April 1968 and was recently used on a TV commercial prompting a new generation of fans to scan the internet trying to find a copy to download. What many may not know is that under the name Jacky Lee the same singer had another TV theme song hit with in 1971 with 'Rupert.'
13 episodes of 60 minute duration. Black and White. 1965 (Not until 1968 in UK)
WHO PAYS THE FERRYMAN?
Who Pays The Ferryman? was the second major drama series from the pen of Michael J. Bird. Rooted in the tensions between old Cretan values and modern Greece, it tells how British ex-serviceman Alan Haldane's return to Crete after 30 years becomes the catalyst for a frightening chain of events. Haldane discovers that while he was on the island he fathered a child, who is now a young woman with a family of her own. Unable to tell them the truth he decides to settle on the island to be near his new family, unaware that there are others who are secretly plotting against him.
The theme of undisclosed parentage was one to which Bird would return more than once in future writings, and the central story of an old-woman's "vendetta" is in every sense a Greek tragedy. Although not strictly a sequel to Bird's earlier series, 'The Lotus Eaters,' there were many similarities. Set in the same part of Crete it features one recurring character in the form of the police chief played by Stefan Gryff. Also very much in the style of 'Lotus Eaters' Bird offered diversions along the way in a couple of episodes unconnected to the main storyline. The soundtrack for the series, by Greek composer Yannis Markopoulos, became a phenomenon in its own right. It made the UK top ten twice and the soundtrack LP still comes up regularly for sale on E-bay. It was reissued on CD in 2000 by EMI Greece. 'Ferryman' ran for eight episodes beginning on 7 November 1977 and ending on Boxing Day. (Review: Dave Rice, 2004)
8 episodes of 60 minute duration. BBC Television 1977.
WINDOW ON MAIN STREET
One year after Father Knows Best ended production, Robert Young and his partner Eugene Rodney returned to series television in this gentle comedy-drama. This time around, Young played Cameron Garrett Brooks, a widowed author who returned to his hometown of Millsburg to continue work on his novel (which shared the show’s title). Cameron found his stories among the residents of Millsburg, who included newspaper editor Lloyd Ramsey (Ford Rainey), his secretary Christina Logan (Constance Moore) and her son Arny (Brad Berwick). A young Tim Matheson also appeared as 13-year-old Roddy Miller. CBS had high hopes for the series; it was slotted on Monday nights just before the top-ten Danny Thomas Show, and ‘Father’s’ old sponsor Scott Paper Company signed on as alternating sponsor with Toni (maker of home permanents and other beauty aids). Like FKB, ‘Window’ was filled with pathos, humour and a moral for each episode. But up against NBC’s The Price Is Right and The Rifleman on ABC, Window On Main Street lasted just one season. Another factor: During the 1961-62 season, CBS was also airing reruns of Father Knows Best in prime time; viewers were more interested in Young’s old series than his new venture. Window On Main Street has resurfaced with episodes (complete with original commercials) as part of the DVD Father Knows Best collections. Each episode of Father Knows Best and Window On Main Street ended with the crest of Rodney-Young Enterprises (the company owned by Robert Young and Eugene Rodney that produced both series). The crest featured the motto “Ars Pro Multis”–which is Latin for “Art For The Masses”!
13 episodes of 30 minute duration. CBS. 1961
WINK TO ME ONLY
Originally a Comedy Playhouse presentation from 1968, this was one of those rare beasts that was made into a full series but with an entirely different cast with entirely different character names. In the original, View By Appointment, Marjorie (played by Pauline Collins) and Jimmy (Derek Fowlds) are a young but friendless married couple who are struggling to sell their house so they come up with the idea of treating potential buyers as dinner guests to be wined and dined. This habit of solving problems using somewhat bizarre methods was explored more in the series. A change of title, cast and characters meant that Wink To Me Only starred Beryl Reid and Hugh Paddick as the somewhat older couple Irene and Sydney Jelliot. The writer for the series was Jennifer Phillips, one of the few women writing sitcom at this time.
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC-tv 1969
Created by ATV as a starring vehicle for Peggy Mount, who had recently finished (or so it seemed) with her Ada Larkins character in the hugely popular sitcom The Larkins. Winning Widows was scripted by Sid Green and Dick Hills and produced by former "Larkins" producer Alan Tarrant. Peggy Mount starred as Martha, a thrice-married widower who, for reasons of economy, is forced to share a semi-detached property with her mild-mannered sister, Mildred, played by Avice Landon (later to star as Roy Dotrice's wife in the BBC comedy Misleading Cases). Mount's persona was very much in the same mould as her "Larkins" character, being something of a fearsome battleaxe who ran her household with an iron will, and Avice was really a substitute for Alf Larkins in this sitcom. (The same relationship was recreated in Mount's final sitcom, You're Only Young Twice, with Pat Coombs in the subservient role). The series was popular enough to run a second season and benefited from male guest stars Pete Murray, Hugh Paddick, Davy Kaye and Bernard Cribbins, all of whom tried to prove themselves as eligible bachelors for Mildred, before coming up against, and turning tail from her fearsome sister. Pop Singer Craig Douglas also made an appearance. Season two finished in November 1962 and the following year The Larkins returned to British TV screens for a further two-year run.
13 episodes of 30 minute duration. ATV 1961 - 62.
WISH ME LUCK
England 1942: What would make Liz Grainger (Kate Buffery), a mother with a five year-old daughter, leave her comfortable life in Devon to be an operative for Britain's secret service? Trained by the Special Operation Executive, she becomes a spy placed into occupied French territories, and her life becomes one of imminent danger as the fear of capture and death follows hard on her heels. Created by Jill Hyem and Lavinia Warner, (who had previously produced and written the BBC women prisoner of war series Tenko), Wish Me Luck was an outstanding tale of camaraderie in adversity endured by the brave civilian women recruited during the Second World War to operate as Allied agents behind enemy lines. Produced by London Weekend Television, the series was first broadcast in January 1988 and was based (as was series two) on the exploits of SOE agent Nancy Wake with much of the dialogue was copied from her autobiography "The White Mouse". A further two series followed in 1989 and 1990. Wish Me Luck was filmed on location in England and France. The series also starred Julian Glover as Colonel Cadogan, Jane Asher as Faith Ashley and Warren Clarke as Colonel Werner Krieger.
23 episodes of 60 minute duration. ITV. 1988 - 1990.
THE WORLD OF TIM FRAZER
Possibly inspired by the success of ITV's Danger Man series, The World of Tim Frazer was shown under the banner of Francis Durbridge Presents and became, until Z-Cars, the longest running serial on BBC television being transmitted in a straight run of 18 episodes between 1960 and 1961. The Yorkshire born Durbridge sold his first play to BBC radio at the age of 21 and in 1938 he created the character Paul Temple, a crime novelist and detective, who's radio adventures soon became one of the Corporations best known broadcasts with recordings of the serials being sold to other Commonwealth countries where they were repeated long after they had stopped in the UK. In a departure from usual BBC practice (but common to ITV), Durbridge, who was Executive Producer, approached Clive Exton, Barry Thomas and Charles Hatton to serve as script associates so that he could spend more time producing and casting. Durbridge provided the basic story outlines to the three writers but then left them to their own devices. Tim Frazer (played by Jack Hedley) is an easy-going structural engineer who gets involved with a secret government department and is recruited as an undercover agent. Writing in the Radio Times in 1960 Durbridge described his character: "Let me start by saying that he is not a Private-Eye. Nor is he a tough, gimmicky, trigger-happy, dame-slapping, mid-Atlantic character of no fixed abode. Frazer spent four years in the Middle East with an engineering company, finally returning to England to start a small machine-tool business of his own. Unfortunately the firm went broke and Frazer's partner, Harry Denston, disappeared - owing Tim a fair sum of money. In pursuit of the money - and Harry Denston - Frazer suddenly finds himself engaged in a considerably more hazardous and dangerous occupation than engineering." At the end of the series the BBC publicity machine went into action again reporting in a 1961 issue of RT: "Tonight brings to an end the longest serial ever put out by BBC Television, and judging by the public reaction to it, one of the most successful." However, no further episodes were made and the series, at the time of writing, has not been released in any video format.
18 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC 1960-61.
The series, scripted by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall that brought back Barbara Euphan Todd's popular talking scarecrow after a TV absence of 26 years. Starring former Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee (who suggested the project in the first place), as the turnip headed inhabitant of Scatterbrook Farm in Ten Acre Field, and Una Stubbs as his reluctant girlfriend Aunt Sally. The part gave Pertwee a chance to show off his comedy skills and funny voices that he had used on so many BBC radio shows including 'The Navy Lark', and was a huge hit, boosting sales of the original books and spawning a number of merchandise items, including a single by Pertwee called 'Worzel's Song'. The Crowman, Worzel's creator was played by former Catweazle star Geoffrey Bayldon. When programme makers Southern Television lost it's franchise production was halted until a New Zealand company purchased the rights to make Worzel Gummidge Down Under in 1987.
Forty twelve episodes of 30 minute duration and one of 60 minutes. Southern TV 1979-81.
YOU CAN'T WIN
Granada Television adapted two novels by William Cooper to produce this seven-part drama series: Scenes From Provincial Life and Scenes From Married Life. The first book was covered in the first four episodes - set in a provincial town, between February and September 1939. The remaining episodes, based on the second book, were set in London, ten years later. Two characters appear in both books - Joe Lunn (played by Ian McShane in his first leading television role) and his friend and mentor Robert (John Humphrey). In "Provincial Life" Joe is a physics teacher and novelist and in the opening episodes of You Can't Win he is teaching at a provincial school where he does not really fit in. The clouds of war are hanging over Europe and he's thinking of emigrating to America. But there is always Myrtle (Patricia Garwood - pictured with Ian McShane), the girl who brightens his life. Except when she wants to marry him. In the last three episodes, Joe is ten years older and settled in London where he now works for the Government as a scientist with the job of recruiting other scientists, and he is still writing novels. His happy marriage is the focal point of his life and he derives from it the strength to meet each new obstacle he encounters. The series followed Joe's life and love affairs over the years, although each episode told a complete self-contained story.
7 episodes of 60 minute duration. Granada. 1966