Short lived but lively musical series based on The Wizard Of Oz and starring Jack Wilde, who had shot to fame as The Artful Dodger in Lionel Bart's Oscar winnig film Oliver. In the opening episode, Jimmy (Wilde) and his magic talking flute named Freddie are lured to a fantasy land in a beautiful boat which is then shipwrecked by the nasty sorceress Witchiepoo, who is intent on stealing the instrument. Luckily, the dragon mayor of Living Island, H.R. Pufnstuf, spotted the boy in distress and sent his Rescue Racer team to bring him ashore. Thereafter, Jimmy shared a series of adventures in the company of Judy the Frog, Cling and Clang, Ludicrous Lion and Dr. Blinky. Although Witchiepoo scuppered all of Jimmy's attempts to leave the island, she never got her hands on the flute. The non-human characters were represented by life-size puppets and the entire series was made to the most highest of production values. A feature film was released in 1970.
Super smoothy Gerald Harper starred as James Hadleigh, briefly seen the year before in the not-altogether successful series, Gazette, the owner of the Westdale Gazette, an ailing local newspaper that he inherited from his father, before putting it back on a sound footing and then selling his controlling interest. Before Gazette, Harper had become a household name in the BBC cult classic Adam Adamant Lives! a dramatic all-action fantasy series about a flambouyant Victorian who is frozen in a block of ice and then thawed out in the 1960s. Gazette, Yorkshire Television's first foray into drama, couldn't have been more different. The first episodes centred round Hadleigh's return to his Yorkshire estate following a disillusioning spell in London. Hadleigh soon finds himself clashing with the Gazette's editor, Walters (Jon Laurimore), who wants to run a story against the aristocrat's wishes. The drama was decidely low-key for this series, often slipping into the mundane with stories about a local clergyman being arrested for being drunk and disorderly, or a new road being built at the sacrifice of much-needed local housing being about the level of excitement. For this reason, Yorkshire decided that one season of Gazette was enough. However, they liked the character of James Hadleigh enough to bring him back in a revamped series that concentrated more on his struggles to keep his country estate, Melford Park, afloat, with the newspaper story being relegated pretty much to the back page.
There were 52 episodes of Hadleigh between 1969 and 1976, tracking the life of the squire of the manor, a former civil servant before he inherited his wealth and mansion, through good times and bad. He still hires himself out to the Treasury from time to time to replenish his ailing finances, but overall his charming character, energy and sharp wit manages to see him through his ups and downs. At first Hadleigh is a bachelor with an apartment in Knightsbridge before meeting and marrying the independently wealthy Jennifer Caldwell (Hilary Dwyer), but Hadliegh's marriage, like his fortunes, are not meant to steer a steady course. By the end of the fourth and final series we have witnessed the end of his marriage and a sharp dip in his finances and the final season concentrates on his efforts to retain ownership of his stately home. All four series of Hadleigh (as single seasons or a complete set), as well as Gazette were made available by Network DVD. the Series Four release included The Lonely Man on the Hill - a new, exclusive documentary covering all four seasons including interviews with cast and producers and the release of Gazette included a documentary, along similar lines, called The House on the Hill.
HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR (1980)
British television drama series from the studio that specialised in horror movies. Click Here for review
Transferring from a successful radio run in 1956, the comedic misadventures of one Tony Aloysius Hancock esq. of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, beguiled the television audience of the UK until 1961.
Written by the prolific writing team of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (who would go on to create another comedy legend - Steptoe and Son), each hilarious half hour recounted a particular misadventure in the pretentiously uneventful life of the lugubrious, trademark Homburg-hatted, lead character. Partnered initially with the highly experienced comedy actor Sid James, Hancock's immaculate comic timing allied with James' own skill and perfectly pitched and observed scripts from the resident writing team, ensured the series outstanding success. However, Hancock was below the laughter filled surface (like many brilliantly gifted comedians), a darkly troubled, insecure soul. It was these insecurities which, by the show's final season, had ensured the departure of Sid James. Now renamed simply Hancock, the season was overall a pale imitation of its former glory. However, enough of the magic remained to produce two genuinely classic episodes, 'The Blood Donor' and 'The Radio Ham'. Following this final season Hancock made an ill advised defection from the BBC to ITV, in the process dispensing with the creative input of Galton and Simpson. The dubious decision of 'The Lad Himself' to read his lines from autocue rather than memorising them was another sad nail in the coffin lid of Hancock's television fame, and one that ultimately led him to take his own life. However, at its peak, Hancock's Half Hour was a genuine Rolls Royce amongst situation comedies, and that kind of sheer style and class never really goes out of fashion. (Review: Stephen R. Hulse)
There have been three attempts to kill Lew Burnett. After the third attempt Burnett decides to stay 'dead' - so that he can stay alive. Burnett, owner of an international construction company, begins scouring his past to find out who hated, loved or envied him enough to want him out of the way for good; he is not running from his enemies but trying to draw them out. Undercover and on borrowed time, he has been given a second chance at life. In this state of transition - symbolised by the Hanged Man of the Tarot - he can no longer fall back on his money or influence, just the wits and hands with which he built up his own small empire. In the process, he is forced to confront some painful truths. In an exceptional performance, acclaimed RSC player and character actor Colin Blakely stars as Lew Burnett alongside Michael Williams as Alan Crowe and Gary Watson as hired assassin John Quentin. This powerful eight-part thriller series also features guest appearances from Jane Seymour, Gareth Hunt, James Grout and Frederick Jaeger, and is scripted by Edmund Ward, whose previous credits include The Power Game and The Main Chance. Ward found inspiration for the series in his own experiences in the often morally dubious world of international construction; The Hanged Man is both a story of self-discovery, and a journey into dark places where the global reach of money ultimately holds the power of life or death. (Network DVD).
Owing much to the commercial success of George (Star Wars) Lucas's nostalgic movie American Graffiti, Paramounts Happy Days premiered on U.S. television screens on January 15th 1974, and by the airing of its 255th and final episode on July 12th 1984 it had more than established itself as one of the world's best-loved situation comedies. Set in the late 1950'S, the show originally focused on the Cunningham family. Father and mother Howard and Marion (TV veterans Tom Bosley and Marion Ross), and their three children-college aged Chuck, (A character who would vanish never to be mentioned again by the end of the first season), younger brother Richie (former child actor and future top-flight movie director Ron Howard), and 12 year old sister Joanie. (Erin Moran). When not at the Cunningham home the bulk of the youngster's adventures revolved around the local diner and hub of teen-aged Milwaukee social life, 'Arnold's'. But what sealed the show's popularity was the introduction of the leather-jacketed, perennially 'cool' biker character of Arthur 'Fonzie' Fonzarelli (a star making performance from the talented Henry Winkler). With the arrival of Fonzie, the centrepiece of the show's core became the relationship which developed between the slightly 'square' Richie and the older, worldly-wise biker. What helped set the series above other sitcoms of the day was the fact that over the course of its run the characters actually grew -evolved. Richie went over the course of Ron Howard's time on the show from callow high school kid, to college student, and ultimately to adult Hollywood scriptwriter with a wife and children of his own. Even the Fonz himself became a more fully rounded, three dimensional character who apart from becoming a respected business owner, also went on to a career as 'Dean of Boys' at the George S. Patton Vocational High School.
The series also spawned three spin-offs. The short lived Joanie Loves Chachi, Laverne & Shirley, and perhaps most notable of all, Mork and Mindy. (The show which helped lay the foundations of the future movie super stardom of Robin Williams). Happy Days finished after a run of ten and a half years and countless characters from 'Potsie' Webber and Ralph Malph, to Jenny Piccolo (played by Phil Silvers' daughter Cathy Silvers) and the aforementioned Mork from Ork, during which time it became the symbol for a safer, simpler, bygone era that had never truly existed in the first place. One of the Fonz's ubiquitous leather jackets is now displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and its endearingly likeable characters are immortalised in perpetual re-runs. The series also gave rise to the idiom "Jump the Shark", used to describe the moment a television show begins to decline in quality. The phrase was borne out of the fifth season episode where a water-skiing Fonzie, wearing swimming trunks and a leather jacket proves his bravery by jumping over a shark. For many viewers this was seen as the point where writers ran out of ideas and Happy Days became a caricature of itself. Happy Days has become a part of the fabric of television folklore and for that, if nothing else, the series deserves one of Arthur Fonzarelli's world famous (and much imitated) thumb's up.(co-writer Stephen R. Hulse).
Comedy serial written by Peter Ling (co-creator of Compact and Crossroads) made by the BBC Children's Television department and broadcast throughout the school holidays of 1954. In it, real life husband and wife John Le Mesurier and Hattie Jacques play Mr and Mrs Mulberry - a childless couple, who, for the summer, look after four children whose own parents are in Ceylon. When the Mulberry's London flat proves to be too small to accomodate all of them they take off for the seaside where the action takes place at the end of a disused pier. Clive Dunn also appeared in the series as the suitably named Mr Grimble. The studio scenes were filmed at the BBC's Lime Grove studios and the exterior seaside scenes were shot on location at Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. The six episodes were shown fortnightly on Saturday afternoons between July and September.
Lord Rustless' ancestry was obscure but said to go back to Hubert de Rustless, who arrived from Normandy with an army of serfs in 1166 and almost decimated the Hastings Public Library before the error was realised. The family was granted estates on what later became Broadmoor. And it was here, in 1968, that the British public were introduced to the present Lord, who bore a startling resemblance to Ronnie Barker! The character was created by Alun Owen, the noted Welsh playwright and screenwriter who first came to popular notice writing the Armchair Theatre production 'No Trams to Lime Street,' before going on to contribute scripts for a number of plays that helped shape British drama's distinctive 1960s feel. Most famously he wrote the script for The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. This was his first excursion into comedy writing and was presented originally as part of the Ronnie Barker Playhouse (the episode was entitled 'Ah, There You Are') in which Barker, not for the last time on television, took on a range of different characters. "The one with his Lordship" said Barker referring to the character's debut, "was particularly successful with the viewers. So was one in which I played a monk. But as the monk was in a silent order and I didn't in fact say a word through the whole play, it would have been rather difficult to bring back and sustain."
Alun Owen had originally planned to write the series but a previous commitment to go to America prevented him doing so. Instead, he tape recorded his outline for the character and for the series future development for Alan Ayckbourn (writing under the pseudonym of Peter Caulfield), the writer who took over the scripting for the series. "Basically, Lord Rustless is an ageing but perennial scatterbrain." Said Barker. "In his way, he is rather innocent. He is in a sort of second childhood. He is a caricature of the old rumbustious aristocrat." Others writers contributed scripts over the two seasons the show ran, including John Brendan, Bernard McKenna, John Junkin, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Gerald Wiley (an alias for Barker himself).
The series may have seemed like a straight sitcom, but it was structured slightly differently as Barker explained: "This will probably be the first situation comedy series that also has sketches. The way it works is that his Lordship sounds off about his various recollections and experiences. Then we do a sketch about it in which I play the other characters involved. Of course, Lord Rustless has his adventures, too. Little goes right in his household. He has a secretary, Bates, played by Josephine Tewson and a butler called Badger-Frank Gatliff." Also cast in this series was David Jason as Dithers, the one hundred-year old gardener. Barker and Jason hit it off immediately. Josephine Tewson remembers what Barker had to say about David Jason in 1969. "I can remember Ronnie saying then 'he's going to give us work when we get old and crotchety.' He could see the potential David had and how good he was." Jason was also appearing in Do Not Adjust Your Set at the same time. There were occasional parts for David Jason's brother, Arthur White, in Hark At Barker as well as future 'Monty Python' star Michael Palin. The show earned Ronnie Barker the Variety Club's TV Personality of the year award for 1969. Lord Rustless returned in 1972 in His Lordship Entertains on BBC television. (Based on an original TV Times article).
Written by future IBA Director-General John Whitney and Geoffrey Bellman, Harpers West One - subtitled Shopping With The Lid Off, took viewers behind the scenes at a busy, but fictional, West End department store employing around 4,000 staff. Said Whitney: "Customers rarely think about the life and organisation of a store. In Harpers we hope to show a department store with the lid off, and in doing this bring to light the dramas and comedies that go on behind the smooth service. We built Harpers on information from many of London's leading stores. The characters are 'real,' the carpet is plush, the atmosphere is authentic..." Most of the concentration for the drama was set on the sixth floor offices. Jan Holden (pictured behind Vivian Pickles) played widowed personnel officer Harriet Carr, PR man Mike Gilmore was played by Tristram Jelinek, male staff controller Edward Cruickshank was played by Graham Crowden. Chairman of the board, Aubrey Harper was played by Arthur Hewlett. The store closed its doors after two series but before that it was responsible in lifting 1961's Johnny Remember Me to the top of the pop charts - after singer John Leyton turned up in the series singing it - as fictional pop-star Johnny St Cyr.
A Cabinet minister is gunned down outside his home in London by a member of the Provisional IRA. Security protocols come into immediate effect, but the assassin evades them and manages to get back to Belfast unscathed. The military send in Captain Harry Brown - a soldier who specialises in deep cover work in hostile situations - into the Falls Road area of Belfast, a place notorious for civil unrest. His mission: to infiltrate himself into the local population, hunt down the assassin and kill him on his own territory - proving to the IRA that they are not safe, even in their "own back yard". It is a terrifying game of cat and mouse, taking place in a civilian-occupied war zone, where one mistake means certain death. Based on a best-selling novel by ex-ITN correspondent Gerald Seymour, this critically-acclaimed top ten ratings winner stars Ray Lonnen as Captain Harry Brown and Derek Thompson and its haunting theme - by the Irish group Clannad - reached the top five in the UK singles charts. The theme music was nominated for a BAFTA and the series won director Lawrence Gordon Clark the prestigious Golden Leopard's Eye award at the Locarno International Film Festival. Harry's Game was not actually shot in Northern Ireland but rather in Leeds, England. Yorkshire Television shot most of the scenes in now demolished housing in the Burley area of the city adjacent to their Leeds Studios. (Network DVD).
Airing between 14th September 1957 to 21st September 1963 (UK broadcast 1959-64), the five thirty minute episode seasons of Have Gun Will Travel were an immensely popular, individualistic take on the traditional western series whose appeal was embraced world-wide, and in the process made an international star of its talented and charismatic lead actor, Richard Boone. The series chronicled the exploits of the college educated, West Point trained, black clad lone solider of fortune known simply as 'Paladin', who was based in the Hotel Carlton in the San Francisco of the mid 1800's. Bearing the distinctive image of a chess knight, and the legend: "Have Gun Will Travel. Wire Paladin, San Francisco" on his business card, Paladin hired out both his gun, his sharp intelligence and dryly laconic wit, as detective, bodyguard or whichever of his other considerable professional talents were required by those seeking his services. Interestingly, the series served as the prototype and inspiration for many imitators to follow, which used the basic components of the Paladin character as the template for their own educated, sharply dressed "Old Western" heroes. Two of the most notable being Hugh O'Brien's Wyatt Earp and Gene Barry's Bat Masterson.
Although essentially a mercenary, Producer Sam Rolfe (who later went on to develop The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and star Boone were careful to highlight the fact that Paladin was actually a variation on the classical image of a Knight Errant, a figure with a clearly defined and rigidly adhered to moral code, which was never knowingly violated. In fact Boone, (born on June 18, 1917 in Los Angeles, and was actually a seventh-generation nephew of frontiersman Daniel Boone), exerted more than a considerable amount of creative control over the series. A 1961 issue of TV Guide revealed that not only had the show's star directed a number of episodes, but also exercised both script and casting approval.
Apart from Paladin himself, the only other continuing character in the series was (initially) Kam Tong as Hey Boy, Paladin's Oriental messenger at the Carlton. Except for during the 1960-1961 season when Tong left the show to take up a more substantial co-starring role in Mr. Garlund/The Garlund Touch. During this period Lisa Lu, as the less than imaginatively christened Hey Girl replaced the character. Tong returned to the series for its final 1963 season following the cancellation of his other show. From 1958-1961 the series was the number three-ranked show on US television screens behind two other legendary Western series', Gunsmoke and Wagon Train. Also, 'Have Gun's' theme song "The Ballad of Paladin", by Johnny Western, Sam Rolfe and Boone himself, and sung on the show's soundtrack by Western, was a hit single twice during the early 60s.
Have I Got News For You has been a staple in Friday night TV, for what appears like forever. If you are channel surfing of an evening or late night, this long running satirical show is bound to pop up. It may not be the first choice of viewing for many but, with a tried and tested formula, it is a fall-back programme for those who like familiarity. I am sure even the most loyal fan of the show will tell you that it is not as good as it used to be but in terms of political satire there has been relatively little competition over the years. Recently we have seen shows like Mock of the Week and Channel 4's hit and miss The Ten O' Clock Show take on the challenge of making the most mundane news into entertainment. We know that with a comedic twist, a lot more people are likely to engage with politics, laughter being something we can all relate to. The problem is that that laughter is much rarer these days on HIGNFY, with internet sites and social media leading the way in the razor sharp reactions to the latest news. With the BBC still shaking of scandals and the cloud of Leveson looming, perhaps the show is towing the line a little, playing it safe and subsequently dampening the spirits.
The show was built on the chemistry between Paul Merton and Ian Hislop and their first class put-downs of politicians, celebrities and panelists alike. Mix that up with sharp witted hosting from Angus Deayton, the show went from strength to strength and this built up the strong fan base that still remains. Deayton's departure was felt but with the remaining two members of the threesome intact alongside the added injection of rotating hosts, we are now 23 years into HIGNFY. Guest host highlights, for better or worse, include classic Brian Blessed, a bumbling Boris Johnson and 'on trend' Damien Lewis. Merton and Hislop may still have what it takes to keep the show alive, if only Merton didn't look so bored and Hislop stopped talking about himself so much. Although the show does need a shake up, the answer will not be in losing the shows stalwarts. It simply would not be the same without Hislop's smugness and Merton's quick wit. The answer could lie in the guests invited onto the show. A lot of the panelists on the show are repeat guests, something else adding to the staleness of the show. Of course there will be audience favourites, such as Jo Brand and Bill Bailey that would be missed but a little less Janet Street-Porter would be appreciated.The addition of guest hosts revived the show after the blow of Deayton leaving so maybe an injection of new, younger, alternative thinking guests will make people want to tune in each week, rather than settling for the best of a bad bunch.
(Review: Deborah Giannasi)
The longest running cop show in US TV history. Hawaii Five-0 was crime fighting with a quiff amidst the golden sands - and even more golden sunsets - of America's 50th state. Originally intended by creator Leonard Freeman to be titled 'The Man', Five-O was designed to extend Freeman's earlier ground-breaking use of location shooting pioneered on Route 66, and give the viewers the added bonus of genuinely exotic and lush backgrounds at the same time as it provided thrills and fast paced cop action. It was a concept which proved to be a literal goldmine. Jack Lord starred as Steve McGarrett, the tough, no nonsense head of a special department within the Hawaiian Police Force. The Five-0 team were a mixed race force of elite crime-busters. A kind of 'Untouchables with tans', charged with keeping the serpent of crime from giving paradise a bad name.
Jack Lord wasn't Leonard Freeman's first choice to play Steve McGarrett. Richard Boone turned it down and Gregory Peck and Robert Brown were also considered before Lord was asked at the eleventh hour. Freeman and Lord had worked together previously on an unsold TV pilot called 'Grand Hotel.' But Lord's McGarrett soon became an iconic character. He was ably assisted by Danny Williams (James MacArthur, son of Hollywood star Helen Hayes), Chin Ho Kelly (former stand-up comedian turned character actor, Kam Fong), and Kono Kalakaua (Zulu). 'Five-0' became an immediate hit with it's instantly recognisable theme tune, superb scenic photography and 'Book-em, Danno' catchphrase. The series also boosted Hawaii's tourist industry so much that a 'Jack Lord Day' was added to the Hawaiian calendar. The show was the longest running crime show on American TV until the police drama Law & Order surpassed it in 2003. Slick, professional, glossy and hard-hitting, 'Hawaii Five-O' stands today as much as a monument to the drive for excellence of star Jack Lord, as it does as a high water mark for the U.S. police series genre.
Trivia: There is a popular misconception that Hawaii Five-O survived long enough to see reruns of early episodes enter syndication while new episodes were still being produced and that the 12th season was repackaged into syndication under the title McGarrett. This is a common mistake made by people who don't know the difference between reruns and syndication. In fact, CBS showed reruns of the 12th season in late night (before the days of David Letterman) under the title McGarrett to differentiate those reruns already in syndication under the title Hawaii Five-0.
(Review: Stephen R. Hulse. Trivia by Erich Wise)
Private eye series billed as 77 Sunset Strip in Hawaii, and with good reason. Both series were produced by Warner Bros., and it was not unusual for the characters in one show to turn up in the other. Stars of the series (apart from the weekly parade of beautiful women) were Robert Conrad as Tom Lapaka and Anthony Eisley as Tracy Steele , two young and handsome private detectives who were based in the poolside offices of the Hawaiian Village Hotel. The main leads alternated with each episode and both had assistance from local nightclub songstress "Cricket" Blake as played by Connie Stevens and local cab driver Kazuo Kim, who was played by a Hawaiian actor with the name Poncie Ponce (honest). Grant Williams joined the cast as fellow detective Greg MacKenzie and Eisley left the series in 1962, his gap being filled for the final season by Troy Donahue as the hotel's social director.
Based on John Fennimore Cooper's character, who battled the Huron Indians in the northern frontier of upstate New York during the 1750's, Hawkeye was played by John Hart, who had previously taken the reins from Clayton Moore -but only temporarily, of another Western hero, The Lone Ranger. Hawkeye was a trapper, fur trader and scout for the US Cavalry and was joined on his adventures by his redskin 'bloodbrother', Chingachgook, the 'Last of the Mohicans' of the title, played by Lon Chaney Jnr. Chaney's father had been a famous Hollywood actor who was known as The Man of a Thousand Faces (James Cagney portrayed him in a 1957 film of the same name), playing amongst others, The Phantom of the Opera. Junior had reluctantly followed his father's footsteps into the same movie genre, appearing in the 1941 Universal production of The Wolfman.
When James Hazell was forced to retire from the police force due to an on-duty injury he took to the bottle, became an alcoholic and destroyed his marriage. By the time television viewers were introduced to him he was almost a reformed character, having dried out and, with the help of his cousin, Tel, formed his own private detective agency in an area frequented by London's more seedier residents. Nicholas Ball played private eye Hazell like a Cockney Phillip Marlowe (complete with commentary voice over) in this stylishly film noir series based on the books of former footballer (and future England football coach) Terry Venables and Gordon Williams, who also contributed to the TV version. The raunchy theme song was written by Andy McKay of Roxy Music and was a minor hit for Maggie Bell in April/May 1978.