P G WODEHOUSE'S THE WORLD OF WOOSTER
Bertie Wooster and his astonishing butler, Jeeves, were created by Pelham Grenville Wodehouse in a 1915 short story entitled 'Extricating Young Gussie,' before going solo in 1919 with 'My Man Jeeves,' after which they became one of the most loved fictional creations in British literature. In this 1960's BBC series adapted by Richard Waring and Michael Mills, both Dennis Price and Ian Carmichael were ideally cast as the perfect (and perfectly snobbish) gentlemen's gentleman and his 'silly ass' of an employer. Although both actors were somewhat older than the characters as described in the original stories, a combination of perfect comic timing and delivery of dialogue turned the series into a resounding success. The plots invariably revolved around idle rich and rather dim-witted Bertie, dashingly dressed and monocle firmly in place, getting himself into some sort of social misadventure before the imperturbable Jeeves stepped in at the last minute to save the day. The series was revived (quite simply as Jeeves and Wooster) in 1990 to equal perfection with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in the leads. Although Jeeves' first name was never referred to in the series and indeed remained a mystery for many years (even to his employer), it was revealed in P G Wodehouse's 1971 novel, 'Much Obliged Jeeves.' His name was Reginald.
20 shows of 30 minute duration. Black and White. 1965/67.
PARA HANDY - MASTER MARINER
Comedy series produced by BBC Scotland based on the skipper and crew of a 'puffer' (small cargo boat) - 'The Vital Spark' written by Neil Munro and first published in 1905 in the "Looker On" column of the Glasgow Evening News. Munro continued writing these hilarious stories for most of his working life. He published them in three book collections: 'The Vital Spark' (1906), 'In Highland Harbours' (1911), and 'Hurricane Jack of the Vital Spark' (1923). The show quickly became a popular Friday night series with viewers for its easy-going humour and colourful characters which included Para Handy played by Duncan Macrae, Dan Macphall (John Grieve), Dougie (Roddy McMillan) and Sunny Jim (Angus Lennie) and their less-than legitimate dealings along the West Coast of Scotland. The series ran briefly for 6 episodes between 1959 and 1960 but the crew's adventures were revived in 1965 for an episode of Comedy Playhouse where Roddy McMillan returned this time as the skipper, Para Handy. Following that three series were made (entitled The Vital Spark) up to 1974. There might have been another series in 1977 but a pilot episode starring Billy Connolly, although filmed-was never aired. Then in 1990 Gregor Fisher (then famous for his Rab C Nesbitt character) returned to play the old sea salt in 9 50-minute episodes of The Tales of Para Handy.
6 shows of 30 minute duration. BBC. 1959-60.
Made as the USA's answer to Coronation Street and based on Grace Metalious' novel, ’Peyton Place’, with its tales of sexual intrigues became the first prime-time soap opera on American television. Set in a New England town, the story (which had already been filmed in 1957 for the big screen-Lana Turner starred) concentrated on the lives of its inhabitants, amongst who were Constance MacKenzie (Dorothy Malone) and her illegitimate daughter, Alison (Mia Farrow), who was romantically linked to Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal), the son of a wealthy mill, owner and his wife of two occasions, Betty Anderson (Barbara Parkins). Linking the stories together was dashing young doctor Michael Rossi (Ed Nelson), whose work took him into the homes of all the characters. The series made major stars of most of the cast, not least of all O'Neal and Farrow (whose character wandered off on a foggy night, never to be seen again). Other stars during the shows run included Leslie Nielsen, Lee Grant, Wilfred Hyde-White and Lana Wood (sister of Natalie). The series was purchased by ITV in 1965 at a cost of £30,000 but unlike its inspiration, Coronation Street, Peyton Place was unable to maintain both its script or production standards and eventually viewing figures became so low that it was axed. At the time, Dr. Rossi was on trial for murder, a finale that Dutch viewers found so unbearable that they flew the cast out to Holland to film an alternative, happy ending. There have been several attempts to revive the series, a 1972 daytime offering Return To Peyton Place starring different actors and a couple of TV movies starring several members of the original cast Murder In Peyton Place (1977) and Peyton Place: The Next Generation (1985). The series is mentioned in 'Haper Valley PTA', a hit single for country singer Jeannie C. Riley in 1968.
514 episodes of 30 minute duration. ABC 1964-69.
PIECE OF CAKE
For the twelve young pilots of RAF Hornet Squadron, September 1939 brings the moment they have been waiting for; Britain has entered the War, and they prepare to leave for France with the prospect of flying beautiful aircraft in perfect formation, ready for any adversary. Eventually, they will be called upon to engage an enemy that is better trained, better armed and more experienced than they are. But life is still for living, and as they endure the mounting anticipation of the ‘phoney war’, the young novices - some still teenagers - are determined to sample the delights that France has to offer. Tim Woodward, Neil Dudgeon, Nathaniel Parker and Jeremy Northam star in this acclaimed LWT drama series, based on the novel by former RAF fighter plotter and Booker Prize nominee Derek Robinson. Meticulously researched combat scenes feature restored period aircraft - with former Red Arrows aerobatic team leader Ray Hanna as chief pilot - and are enhanced by stunning aerial photography and special effects. Piece of Cake also emphasises the fallibility and vulnerability of the pilots, offering rounded characterisations of the young heroes of the Battle of Britain - many of whom will make the ultimate sacrifice.
6 episodes of 60 minute duration. ITV. 1988
Six part series made by the BBC documentary department that was a direct follow on from the 1951 experimental series I Made The News (see separate entry) and seen now as a direct forerunner to Dixon of Dock Green. Although these programmes were described as documentaries because they were based on cases from real-life police files, they were in fact dramas acted out by actors. Previous police procedural series tended to focus on high-profile cases and centered round the Criminal Investigation Department officers of Scotland Yard. Pilgrim Street was the first of these docu-dramas to revolve around the work of policemen at a suburban police station, and to feature cases, as the Radio Times of 1952 reported, that "never find their way into the pages of the Commissioner's Report and in which the police act as helpers and protectors of the public." The fictitious Pilgrim Street police station was, however, just a stones-throw from Scotland Yard as the opening narrative indicated: "Our manor - our ground. It's as varied as anything in London. The railway station is in the centre there, and around it are cinemas, the shopping streets, the wharehouses, the pubs, the pawnbrokers, and the little streets. Up here, luxury flats, spacious squares and gardens, and embassies. Skirting it all, the Embankment and the river. That's our ground. Our Manor. And right here is our station: Pilgrim Street." The series was originally to have been called The Blue Lamp, however BBC bosses were concerned about using a title already used by the cinema for the feature film, even though the film was undoubtedly the inspiration for this television version. Clearly producer Robert Barr was hoping the short run (Pilgrim Street ran from June to July and was produced at the newly acquired Lime Grove studios) would give rise to a long running series. However, critical reaction and lack of support from his boss, Cecil McGivern, put paid the that idea. One critic described Pilgrim Street as "ordinary to the point of dullness." Nonetheless, Pilgrim Street is an important programme in the development of the British TV police procedural drama genre being the first steps towards a series featuring the exploits of 'an ordinary copper.'
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC TV 1952.
PLANET OF THE APES
Based on the successful film series that started with Planet of the Apes (1968) in which a nuclear war on Earth has made the apes the dominant species while mankind have become mute slaves wearing animal skins and hunting for food. Similar to the original movie, the TV version features the crew of a 20th century spacecraft who, due to a mishap, find themselves returning home some 2000 years late (the future-date in the TV series pre-dates the movie by almost 900 years). The only two astronauts who survive the journey are Alan Virdon and Pete Burke (played by Ron Harper and James Naughton). They are immediately branded outlaws by the ruling ape society and sentenced to death as a threat to the state, because they represent the ancient race who destroyed the Earth with their greed, violence and weapons of mass destruction. Galen, a chimp played by Roddy McDowell (who had appeared in similar roles in the movie series) joins the astronauts, feeling that they are unjustly accused. The series was filmed on the old Fox ranch in Malibu Canyon where the original films were made. Ron Harper, also familiar to viewers from the TV series Garrison's Gorillas was later very critical of both series' (movie and TV): "The first film was very interesting. The idea of reversing the roles of apes and humans was a novel one. But beyond that first film, I think they ran out of steam as to what to do with this crazy premise. I thought the series went downhill real fast." James Naughton agreed: "It was a one idea show and once we got past that one idea, the actors and, more importantly, the audience had seen it all. Our story was one of us would get captured by the apes and the other two would have to rescue him. It got to the point where Jim and I would pick up a script each week and the first words out of our mouth would be 'whose turn is it to be rescued this week?'" To confirm what the two actors said, Planet of the Apes found it difficult to sustain a loyal audience and after four episodes viewing figures dropped dramatically. It was eventually decided to cancel the series only 16 episodes "in the can" (although the last two were not broadcast). However, two years later the show was back as a series of two-hour movies (actually two one-hour original episodes joined together). Entitled, a little misleadingly perhaps, The New Planet of the Apes, these suprisingly fared much better, selling to TV stations around the world. They also entered syndication, and ABC got Roddy McDowall to re-create his role of Galen in a series of new openings and closings specifically for ABC's owned and operated stations, so unless you saw it on one of those, you will not know the two astronauts fate: "They found their computer in another city and disappeared into space as suddenly as they’d arrived" Galen informed us at the end of the final episode. The ABC openings and closings were never seen on other stations, nor were they included on the DVD set of the series.
14 episodes of 60 minute duration. CBS. 1974.
PLATEAU OF FEAR
Mystery after dark threatens to close Potencia-One, Santa Montana's lonely nuclear power station in the Andes. Workmen are ready to walk out after a series of savage and inexplicable attacks at the plant. Victims of the attacks are being treated at the World Health Organisation research hospital which adjoins Potencia-One. Doctor Susan Fraser (Jan Miller), Canadian scientist in charge of the hopsital refuses to give an opinion about what attacked the men, but she says all the victims appear to have been "bitten." Into this scenarion are sent leading British scientific investigator Mark Bannerman (Gerald Flood) and his 15-year old assistant Peter Blake (Stewart Guidotti). Complicating the situation even further is the villainous General Villagran (Ferdy Mayne), who is pressing for the conversion of the reactor for military purposes. Plateau of Fear written by Malcolm Stuart Fellows and Sutherland Ross brought back together Flood and Guidotti who had last appeared in Pathfinders To Venus, also shown under the Family Hour umbrella title on Sunday afternoons. The actors (and characters) would be reunited in 1962 for City Beneath the Sea.
6 episodes of 30 minute duration. ITV 1961.
PLAY SCHOOL / PLAY AWAY
"Here is a house, here is a door, windows -one, two, three four. Ready to knock? Turn the lock. It's Play School." These were the first words spoken on the first show ever seen on the opening day of BBC2 television in 1964. Play School was a mixture of songs and stories which entertained and educated the under five's for 24 years, whilst making household names of many of its presenters including Johnny Ball, Floella Benjamin, Toni Arthur, Derrick Griffiths and the unforgettable Brian Cant. But perhaps even more famous than the long list of presenters were the Play School toys, Little Ted and Big Ted, Jemima, Humpty and Hamble (who was replaced in the 1980's by black doll Poppy). There were also real animals, the most famous of which was Katoo the cockatoo. The programme opened with a look at the calendar with the day, month and date clearly spelled out and each day had a particular theme. Monday was Useful Box Day, Tuesday was Dressing Up Day, Wednesday was Pets Day, Thursday was Ideas Day and Friday was Science Day. During the show viewers were posed the question of which window to look through, arched, square or round, before seeing a short film about an outside activity. In 1981 there was a Saturday afternoon version aimed at the more sophisticated seven-year-olds. Play Away, which ran for thirteen years, followed a similar format although the games and songs were less infantile. Cant, Arthur, Griffiths and Benjamin each appeared in the show but they were joined by a whole host of new presenters, most famously Tony Robinson who went on to star as Baldrick in the Blackadder series, Anita Dobson who found later fame in Eastenders and future Hollywood Oscar winner Jeremy Irons!
Play School approximately 4000 shows of 30 minute duration. Play Away Approximately 500 shows.
PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES
Based on the 1957 best-selling book by Jean Kerr (which also spawned a successful 1960 film starring Doris Day and David Niven), this sitcom centred on an unusual suburban family. Jim Nash (Mark Miller taught English in the town of Ridgemont, New York. Wife Joan (Patricia Crowley) was a freelance writer who used the pen name Joan Holliday. She hated to do housework, cooking and other traditional homemaking chores, making her sort of an early feminist before that term was in vogue. The couple had four boys, oldest son Kyle (Kim Tyler), younger Joel (Brian Nash) and seven-year-old twins Tracey and Trevor (Joe and Jeff Fithian). Veteran actress Ellen Corby (later Esther Walton on The Waltons) appeared occasionally as the family maid Martha O’Reilly; the Nashes also had a 150-pound sheepdog named Ladadog. The family lived in a large, older castle-like home in Ridgemont (228 Circle Avenue) complete with a bell tower. Somewhat ahead of its time, Please Don’t Eat The Daisies managed to run for two seasons.
58 episodes of 30 minute duration. NBC 1965-67
In 1783 Captain Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis), missing presumed dead, returns home from the American Revolutionary War to find that his uncle Charles has claimed his estate. Poldark's farmlands and copper mines have been left to deteriorate and are now in the process of being sold to local villians the Warleggans and his girlfriend Elizabeth (Jill Townsend) is engaged to his cousin Francis (Clive Francis). Poldark sets about paying off his father's debts, replants his land and rebuilds his mines. His determination helps him to overcome a series of further disasters which include mine explosions, ship wrecks, illness and not least of all the French Revolution! Poldark is also torn between two loves; Elizabeth and Demelza (Angharad Rees), an illiterate but fiesty teenager who eventually falls pregnant with his child. In spite of the scandal, Poldark goes against convention and marries Demelza even though she is considered to be out of his class. In time Demelza grows into an intelligent and sophisicated women, but the shadow of Poldark's first love is never far away. The first series of 16 episodes were filmed on location in St. Ives without much public interest. But such was the impact of Poldark that by the time the crew returned for the next 13 episodes they were unable to move out of their hotel without attracting a crowd.
29 episodes of 60 minute duration. BBC 1975-77
Beginning on June 30, 1962 in a Saturday late night slot, Police Five was presented by New Scotland Yard in conjunction with ATV. Its aim over the planned six-week trial run was to appeal to the public for their help in unsolved cases. Requests from eye-witnesses who up until then may have been too scared to come forward with information, the whereabouts of ill-gotten gains, or identification of suspects through photofit drawings were among the appeals made. The Met had complete control over the content of each five-minute edition but were still a little suspicious of the format, due in part to the fact that nothing had been tried like this before. Any objections were put aside very quickly when, presented by the amiable former quiz-show host Shaw Taylor, the programme yielded some unexpectedly good results. So much so, that the show got a more family-friendly broadcast hour (it was eventually moved to Sunday afternoons) and continued for nearly thirty years expanding to include more complex cases (it covered the disappearance of Lord Lucan) and also offering crime prevention advice. Although Police Five was not networked by ATV, other regional stations soon picked up the format producing their own 'local' versions. Police Call was seen in the Anglia and Tynne Tees areas while Police File was the title adopted for programmes across Granada, Channel and Scottish Television areas. Shaw Taylor asked people to keep their eyes open for anything suspicious they might see and report it to the police, signing off each programme by pointing to his eyes and reminding the audience to "keep 'em peeled." This they did willingly. Police Five soon found its way into popular culture, jokes and everyday conversation earning Taylor the nickname of 'whispering grass.' In 1972 Junior Police Five was introduced to a younger audience. Police Five, presented by Shaw Taylor until 1990 introduced some 25,000 cases and was the forerunner to the now hugely popular and important BBC Crimewatch series. Over a decade after it finished, Taylor returned briefly to the role of programme presenter for a light-hearted insert in the time-travel crime series Ashes to Ashes, telling his willing audience to 'keep 'em peeled' just one more time.
ATV 1962 - 1969. LWT 1970 - 1990
POOR LITTLE RICH GIRLS
Sophisticated comedy starring Maria Aitken as Kate Codd and Jill Bennett as Daisy Troop: two cousins who, despite wealthy backgrounds, now have to face life together on much more slender means. Although related they haven't seen each other for fifteen years, but decide to pool what little resources they have following Kate's ill-tempered divorce from husband number two and Daisy's third time at becoming a widow (who'd want to be husband number four?!). The basement flat they share is a very basic property in Manchester - a bit of a comedown for Daisy who used to be a Countess! Both Aitken and Bennett were friends in real-life and came up with the idea for Poor Little Rich Girls over lunch one day. They pitched it to Granada who commissioned it. Charles Laurence who had written the 1970s BBC sitcom Now Take My Wife, wrote the scripts.
7 episodes of 30 minute duration. Granada Television. 1984.
Television series devised by and starring British comedian Charlie Chester. Debuting in 1952 Pot Luck is notable as the first ever British audience participation series. Described as a "programme of prizes and surprises", it involved members of the audience passing a pot around until the music stopped. Whoever was then holding the pot had to come up on stage and take part in a quiz. Supporting Chester were Harry Seltzer and Leslie Welch the Memory Man. The show was produced by Walton Anderson who mainly worked on TV musical comedies and reviews.
Twice weekly series set round a modern health centre, Granada's The Practice explored the professional lives of doctors, health visitors, district nurse, social worker and staff in the fictional Manchester inner-city area of Castlehulme. The central characters covered the spectrum of contemporary medical attitudes from the traditional family doctor to the career-conscious idealist and the warm down-to-earth district nurse to the somewhat cynical social worker. As well as exploring their professional relationships and conflicts The Practice also explored the characters personal attitudes, frienships and conflicts. Each story was said to be based on real case history taken from actual events to provide human predicament with medical, moral and legal dilemmas. The series didn't perform particularly well during its initial 34 episode run on Friday and Sunday evenings in 1985 but returned for a second series the following year. However, it was finally struck off the schedule after another 13 episodes. The BBC revived the format of life in and around the the staff and patients of a medical centre far more successfully with Doctors, which (at the time of writng) has been going strong since 2000.
47 episodes of 30 minute duration. Granda 1985-86.
The Protectors had one of the most difficult jobs on television when first introduced in 1964, as this team of specialists were brought in to bridge the gap left by the concluding episode of that year's highly successful series of The Avengers. "We sell security. Object: To prevent crime," was the motto of the three specialists operating out of a plush London office. Producer Michael Chapman said of the series, "This is in sharp contrast to The Avengers, which dealt with crime in a stylish, fantasy world. Our show is about three level-headed people who try to prevent crime from happening." Certainly Heather Keys played by former Compact actress Ann Morrish was no Cathy Gale. "I suppose it is inevitable I should be compared to Cathy," said Morrish in 1964. "But off-screen and on we couldn't be more different." The series took for its inspiration the many security firms that were beginning to spring up around Britain at that time, and after placing advertisements in newspapers, asking prospective clients to call 'Wellbeck 3269' the SIS (Specialists in Security) firm headed by former insurance investigator Ian Souter (Andrew Faulds), and assisted by ex policeman Robert Shoesmith (Michael Atkinson) found themselves assigned to cases involving forgery, espionage and murder. African born Faulds had previously come to public notice as a prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Stratford-on-Avon, and took up his political career once more after retiring from acting to become an MP. Ann Morrish went on to be a presenter on the pre-school children's show Play School.
14 episodes of 60 minute duration. ABC-TV. 1964.
South African born actor Louis Hayward began work in British films, the first, Self Made Lady (1932), was followed by five UK films through 1933 before Hayward took off for the USA where his most notable role was that of Simon Templar in Leslie Charteris' The Saint in New York (1938). While never really rising above a steady jobbing actor career Hayward enjoyed a comfortable living and later moved enthusiastically into television - producing his own series, The Lone Wolf, after buying the exclusive rights to several of Louis Joseph Vance's original stories. He also produced this British series originally to be titled Police Dog (his 'sidekick' in the series was an Alsatian), for Crestview Productions with Donald Hyde executive producing. Shooting starting on 29 August 1960. Hyde described it as "...a purely British production. Probably the first that will not have any mid-Atlantic accents." In it, Hayward played Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Steve Bollinger who "walks the lonely streets of London." The series was a standard police procedural and writers included Philip Levene, John Warwick, Leonard Finchman, Basil Dawson. The theme tune, The Persuers, was composed by Malcolm Lockyer. Apart from one man and his dog, Gaylord Cavallaro also featured regularly as DS Steve Wall and guests passed through included John Le Mesurier, Leonard Sachs, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Honor Blackman, Arthur Lowe, Barry Foster and Sam Kydd. The series debuted in 1961 given a 730pm Sunday slot but after around 10 episodes was moved to Saturday at 11pm.
39 episodes of 30 minute duration. ITV 1961 - 62.
THE QUEEN STREET GANG
Well trained, highly organised and working from a secret H.Q. The Queen Street Gang were undoubtedly an attempt by Thames television to create a modern day Famous Five. There were even comparisons to be drawn with the Enid Blyton created characters, including one of the children being the daughter of a top secret researcher. The series was based on a 1966 children's adventure book called 'The Case of the Silver Egg', by Desmond Skirrow and adapted for TV by Roy Russell whose previous work included the Sexton Blake TV series and who later went on to write Fly Into Danger, A Place To Hide and numerous other adventure series. The first of the two stories made involved a silver egg that was able to hold all the electricity in the world, which was then stolen by a group of criminals with the unlikely names of Spitz, Auntie Cuthbert, Greenface and Tich, characters that would not have been out of place in the Batman TV series that was hugely popular around the same time. It was up to the gang to recover it, rescue the kidnapped professor and make the world a safer place for us all. The gang (of which, coincidentally there were five) was Mini Morris (Michael Feldman), Speedy (Anthony Peplow), Sniffer (Len Jones), Big Bill (Sebastian Abineri) and Philippa (Elizabeth Crowther).
9 episodes of 30 minute duration. Thames Television 1968.
QUICK BEFORE THEY CATCH US
Children's action/adventure series that was very much a product of the swinging sixties having more in common with The Avengers than The Famous Five. It was actually about an unfamous three, each of them bringing with them their own unique skill to help solve the unlikely adventures they managed to get themselves into. Kate (Pamela Franklin), the youngest of our heroes, had a photographic memory and was also a talented artist, quite handy when on the trail of villians. Johnny (Teddy Green) was a technology student and quite handy at whipping up any manner of surveilance equipment, and Mark (David Griffin) was the nerdish brains of the outfit, also a gifted photographer. All the actors went on to long TV careers, Franklin moved to the USA where she often cropped up in numerous prime-time series such as Hawaii Five-O, Police Woman, Fantasy Island (four times) and Vega$. Green most later appeared in Holby City and became a regular in Hi-De-Hi! as Squadron Leader Clive Dempster DFC before appearing as Emmet in Keeping Up Appearances. The series theme tune was performed by the Brian Epstein managed group Paddy, Klaus and Gibson (Klaus being none other than Klaus Voorman, designer of The Beatles 'Revolver' album cover) but the musical trio split up before the TV trio had even started their adventures.
20 episodes of 30 minute duration. BBC. 1966.
Beginning life in the USA as part of the anthology series Mystery Movie, Quincy ME (the ME was dropped from the title in Britain), proved popular enough to be promoted to its own slot where it ran for almost ten years. The lead was taken by veteran actor Jack Klugman, who managed to effortlessly shake off the image of rough, gruff, slob, Oscar Madison in the equally long running the Odd Couple, to become the caring, conscientious and inquisitive pathologist, who had turned his back on his previously lucrative medical practice to work for the Los Angeles County Coroners Office, where he was ably assisted by young colleague Sam Fujiyama (Robert Ito). Quincy, impulsive and headstrong, was not adverse to leaving his microscope behind and venturing outside to conduct investigations of his own, much to the consternation of his boss, Dr. Robert J. Asten (John S. Ragin) and local police cheif Frank Monahan (Garry Walberg). In later seasons the series boldly attempted to face up to real issues such as drug abuse among teenage athletes. In private Quincy frequented a bar known as Danny's Place (the owner was played by Val Bisoglio), and dated a girl by the name of Lee Potter (Lynette Mettey). However, the romance with Lee didn't last and eventually Quincy met and married psychiatrist Emily Hanover (Anita Gillette). His first name was never given in the series although he carried a business card which revealed his first initial as R. The series was created by Glen A. Larson.
148 episodes (60 and 90 minute duration). 1976 - 1983
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