Dying can sometimes be a funny business as television has discovered to its advantage. Writer Dick Sharples began to consider the possibilities after overhearing a conversation in a pub between two undertakers. However, in 1969 there were still some taboos that had not been tackled by the laughter makers and getting a chuckle out of someone else's bereavement was one of them. Undeterred, Sharples wrote a single pilot episode for Thames Television in which Marjorie Rhodes starred as Ivy Unsworth, the wife of an undertaker who dies in the opening scene, leaving her to run the business with her hapless nephew, Harold (Harold Goodwin). The setting was the fictitious Lancashire town of Oldshaw and the time period was deliberately chosen by Sharples as 1929, a period when funeral parlours were switching from horse-drawn carriages to motorised vehicles, the idea being that the undertaking firm would have to face the problems of modernisation as well as the usual day-to-day situations and mishaps. The programme went out on 4th November 1969 and topped the ratings for that week. Sharples waited for Thames to commission a full series. They didn't.
In fact, it was ten years before anyone showed any further interest in making a series of In Loving Memory and by that time the BBC had covered similar ground with That's Your Funeral (starring Bill Fraser). But in 1979 Yorkshire TV ordered a full series of seven episodes starting with a remake of the pilot. The story was based solely on the incident that Sharples had overheard in the pub in which a hearse, on the way to a funeral, hits a pothole and sheds its coffin, which then shoots down a hill and ends up in a canal. In the TV version the mourners gather around the floating casket throwing their wreaths after it like a burial at sea. To play the part of Ivy Unsworth in the series Dick Sharples and producer Ronnie Baxter approached one of Britain's treasures; Thora Hird. 'I did worry a lot about hurting people's feelings and upsetting anyone who may have been bereaved.' She said. 'But the fan letters came flooding in and so many people said how nice it was to have a bit of a laugh over a subject which we can be so straight-laced about.' The public continued to have 'a bit of a laugh' for five series of In Loving Memory. Her nephew, now named Billy, was played by former child star Christopher Beeny (The Grove Family and Upstairs Downstairs). During that time the series moved on to the 1930s and the accident prone Billy married Mary Braithwaite (Sherrie Hewson). In true sitcom style, Ivy accompanied them on their honeymoon. In Loving Memory managed to tread the fine line between comedy and tragedy and was seen by many as a light relief from the stark reality of death. It seems everyone has a funny funeral story. One woman wrote to Thora Hird and told her how an uncle of hers had always expressed a wish to be cremated but his widow insisted he be buried. Naturally, the widow had the last word. But on the way to the funeral the hearse caught fire. 'My uncle almost got his wish' she wrote. Funny business, indeed.
Professor Branestawm is a series of thirteen books written by the English author Norman Hunter. Written over a 50 year period, between 1933 and 1983, the children's books feature as protagonist the eponymous inventor, Professor Theophilus Branestawm, the classic bungling, fumbling, absent-minded scientist who dreams up useless inventions that would get him laughed out of the patent office. In 1969, actor Jack Woolgar brought Branestawm to life in this Thames Television produced series. Woolgar, who shaved his head for the part-"a bit chilly" he admitted-was a great fan of Branestawm having heard Hunter read the stories on the radio in Children's Hour. "I was a bit worried at first how Branestawm would go over on television becasue (the) series (was) sticking closely to the books, with no special visual gimmicks. Woolgar's co-stars in the series were the crazy Branestawm inventions designed by 28-year old Terry Gough, a set designer at Teddington Studios. Gough designed around 15 working machines for the series using stuff like an old kitchen colander, parts of a clock, a First World war soldier's helmet and sawn-in-half barrels. Helping Professor Branestawm bungle his screwball schemes were the very correct Colonel Dedshott (Paul Whitsun-Jones) and trying her best to keep the place tidy-and intact-while they carried out their experiments was their housekeeper, Mrs. Flittersnoop (Freda Dowie). The original stories were adapted for television by Trevor Preston.
Beginning life as a comic book character, 'The Hulk' first appeared in his own Marvel Comics magazine in May 1962, but after just six issues the magazine was cancelled and the anti-hero was reduced to the role of occasional guest in stories featuring 'The Avengers' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man.' He returned as a 'second feature' character in the comic book series 'Tales To Astonish' in 1964 but it wasn't until 1968 when the comic was renamed, that the Hulk took centre stage once again. After physicist Dr. (Robert) Bruce Banner is caught in the blast of a gamma bomb of his own creation, the radioactive fallout poisons his cells and unleashes a raging force within him as well as transforming his body to that of an apparent Frankenstein-like monster with incredible strength. It is not a permanent metamorphosis however, and at each sundown he reverts to plain old Dr Banner (this was later changed and Banner would remain in his normal form until someone enraged him). Pursued by the police and armed forces, Banner is forced into a life on the run, never being able to build emotional relationships with anyone for fear of his inner-monster emerging.
In early 1977, Frank Price, head of Universal Television, offered writer and producer Kenneth Johnson the opportunity to develop a TV show based on any of several characters they had licensed from Marvel Comics. After initially turning down the offer Johnson reconsidered and began working the Hulk into a pilot story. In his pilot Johnson made a number of changes to the story as originally written by creator Stan Lee and co-plotter (and comic book artist) Jack Kirby. Firstly, the doctor became David (Bruce) Banner because, according to Stan Lee, Universal felt the name Bruce Banner sounds like a "gay character" name. He also dropped the main supporting characters from the comic series and Banner was depicted as a medical doctor whose life changing accident comes about by way of a laboratory incident. Any science fiction elements were dropped (apart from the Hulk himself) and most stories were centred on 'human interest' and Banner's attempt to control the raging monster inside him. For the role of Dr. David Banner, the producers considered a number of actors including Larry Hagman before turning to former My Favourite Martian and The Magician star, Bill Bixby. But Bixby initially turned down the part before changing his mind at a later date. It was always intended for the Hulk character to be cast to a different actor who would be physically larger than Bixby, and to this end future Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger auditioned - but was not hired. Eventually, 7 foot 1.5 inch actor Richard Kiel was given the role and production commenced on the pilot. However, during filming, Kenneth Johnson's son pointed out that Kiel, although physically very big, was not very muscular and in fact carried a little excess body weight and therefore did not depict the build of the comic book Hulk very convincingly. The Hulk had to be believable, strong, and scary. Kiel was dropped and former Mr. America, Lou Ferrigno, was bought in to replace him.
Another important cast member was actor Jack Colvin, an investigative reporter named Jack McGee, whose nosey interference was the cause of Banner's lab accident. McGee sees the Hulk fleeing from the lab after the explosion that kills Banner's research partner and, ignorant of his own involvement, blames the creature for the disaster. He then pursues the Hulk throughout the series and Banner has to constantly take steps to hide his true identity. The series became a huge international hit and was screened in over seventy countries. In the USA it did well in the ratings for four seasons and looked set to run a fifth when CBS decided to cancel it. The seven new episodes that had been filmed when the axe fell on the series were simply added onto series four when it was shown in reruns. Bixby himself wanted season five to be the last but wanted to conclude the series properly. Kenneth Johnson and producer Nicholas Corea also wanted to film a two-hour finale, but they could not get CBS to agree and so The Incredible Hulk finished without viewers finding out if David Banner ever found a cure.
Disbarred barrister Alex Lambert (Ian Hendry) used his connections with the underworld to pass information onto the police -for a price! This tense, pithy thriller lasted for two seasons and followed Lambert as he trod the precarious path between both sides of the law whilst keeping his wife (Heather Sears) ignorant of his true profession, posing instead as a business consultant. This wasn't the only secret he kept from her -as he was also having an affair with the girlfriend (Jean Marsh) of an unsuccessfully defended client, (whose case led to his disbarment). His one contact with the police was through DS Piper (Neil Hallett). Tony Selby also starred. The series was created by John Whitney and Geoffrey Bellman and produced by tella Richman (series 1) and Peter Collinson (series 2). Directors included Michael Lindsay-Hogg and a young Ridley Scott.
British drama series following generations of two families. Click Here for review
The late great Roy Kinnear starred as George Meredith Webley, in this Yorkshire Television produced sitcom about a bank clerk who was guaranteed to add the word pooper to party and crushing to bore. George worked for the aptly named Meanside and Beestley Savings Bank in Leeds and in his spare time (actually in his work time, too) thought it his duty to bore everyone rigid, including his long-suffering wife, Rosemary (Patsy Rowlands), with trivia, perpetually worrying about everything in the world and complaining that he had suffered every illness known to man. George was the eternal pessimist and approached life with the attitude that if something was going to go wrong - it would! The series was the first of several collaborations between Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, which included a TV adaptation of the latter's solo novel 'Billy Liar' (Billy), Diana Dors' sitcom Queenie's Castle and an adaptation of Barbara Euphan Todd's eternal scarecrow stories featuring Worzel Gummidge (as played by Jon Pertwee). It was also notable for including something of a who's who of British character actors and comedians such as James Bolam, Peter Butterworth, Les Dawson, Clive Dunn, Hattie Jacques, Roy Hudd, Dandy Nichols, Graham Stark and Max Wall.
Like the Six Million Dollar Man, Inspector Gagdet was an ordinary human until an accident armed him with a whole host of in-built secret weapons. As a result of this he was promoted from rookie cop to inspector in order to wage war on crime, and in particular his arch-enemy Doctor Claw and the evil agents of MAD. Gadget was based on the 1960's series Get Smart, and he was voiced by agent Maxwell Smart himself, actor Don Adams. Like Smart, Gadget is totally inept at what he does and mostly solves crime more by luck than judgement as well as a helping hand (or paw) from his nieces dog, Brian. A weak attempt at transferring the series to the big screen was attempted using real life actors, with Matthew Broderick in the lead.
INSPECTOR MORSE (1987)
Murder and intrigue around the spired streets of Oxford. Click Here for review
Made between 1959 and 1960, Interpol was based on the cases of the International Criminal Police Organisation, based in an office building in the Rue Paul Valery, just across from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The organisation began in 1914 when Prince Albert of Monaco invited police officers and lawyers to lay down the foundation of an international crime-busting organisation. However, plans were cut short by the start of World War 1 and it wasn't until 1923 that the organisation set to work as the International Criminal Police Commission, with headquarters in Vienna. In this series Hungarian born actor Charles Korvin appeared as Inspector Paul Duval, the central character who week in and week out sought out the perpetrators of criminal activity. Although only 39 half-hour episodes were filmed the series managed to tackle everything from murder to blackmail, drugs to hijacking and assassination to slavery. The show is perhaps best remembered for its opening title sequence in which a car crashes through a check-point barrier, setting the scene for the action packed adventures to follow.
Industrial espionage series starring Edward Judd who, as investigator Gavin Grant, was called upon to ferret out industrial spies in the world of big business. Based on an idea by Tony Williamson and made by ABC, the series never made it beyond the first season of 12 episodes largely due to the fact that the central character failed to capture the imagination of the viewing public. Grant was helped by his assistant/girlfriend Val (Caroline Mortimer). Producer Robert Banks Stewart would go on to bigger and better things.
Science fiction series that drew heavily on the 'running man' theme so successfully established in The Fugitive, not surprisingly, because both shows were produced by the prolific Quinn Martin, who also developed The F.B.I., Baranaby Jones and Cannon among others. The Invaders debuted in the USA in January 1967 and opened promisingly enough with weary traveller David Vincent pulling his car off the road to take a short nap. This he does, but is abruptly awakened by a loud whirring sound and flashing lights. Looking to the side of the road he sees what appears to be a spaceship landing. He tries to alert the sceptic authorities who return with him later to the scene but to his dismay there is no evidence of any extra-terrestrial activity, and soon, the police and his business partner are suspecting Vincent's sanity. Making a nuisance of himself, Vincent books into a local hotel where he thinks he may have found himself an ally, Kathy Adams (played by Diane Baker), who believes his tale and tries to help him. But Adams is not all she seems and Vincent is soon convinced that she is an occupant from the strange craft he'd seen the night before. After being admitted to and then escaping from a mental institution, beaten up, almost run over and nearly burned to death, Vincent learns that Adams is indeed an alien from a doomed planet whose people are planning to populate the Earth in key positions of civilization such as the police, government, media, anywhere in fact that they can influence modern society in an attempt to take over the world.
Playing the role of 'champion of the people' was the athletically built and handsome Roy Thinnes, who spent a great deal of time promoting the show around the USA. "We are theorising with reality, theorising as to who flies flying saucers and why they are here." He told his audience. Unfortunately for Vincent, he was hard pressed to convince anyone of the existence of the alien invaders because they could change human form and if one were to be killed they'd simply evaporate. The same was true of the show's audience who evaporated long before the first season finished. In an attempt to bolster the falling ratings season two introduced more 'believers' to support Vincent, offering him money and assistance in his fight against the aliens. But by that time, the audience simply didn't seem to care any more. Or maybe the alien's had succeeded?
Directed by Pennington Richards who had previously worked on The Buccaneers and Ivanhoe and produced by Danger Man creator Ralph Smart, The Invisible Man was Dr Pete Brady, a scientist who had become victim of his own experiments into light refraction, leaving him permanently transparent. Unable to find a cure, Brady went to work for the British government. The series was notable for its special effects such as the self-smoking cigarette, and the self-drinking glass of wine. A self-driving car caused one motorist to almost have an accident when it pulled up alongside him at a set of traffic lights during location filming. An actor ran across to the car and, on opening the door, recoiled from an invisible blow. The onlooker's reaction was so genuine that the production team kept it in the transmitted programme. The actor who played Brady never received a credit although his voice belonged to Tim Turner, and Lisa Daniely starred as his sister. Other cast members were Deborah Watling (who later went on to star as travelling companion Victoria Waterfield in Doctor Who), as Brady's niece, and Ernest Clark (Prof. Loftus in the sitcom Doctor In The House), as Brady's boss Colonel Ward. There was a US version in 1975 with Man From U.N.C.L.E. star, David McCallum.
The Irish RM starred Peter Bowles in a series of lively stories based on three novels by Irish cousins Edith Oenone Somerville and Violet Martin Ross, the first of which, 'Some Experiences of an Irish R.M.' became an international success when it was first published in 1899. Bowles starred as Major Sinclair Yeates, a retired British Army officer who moves to the west of Ireland at the turn of the century, to become a Resident Magistrate (a Justice of the Peace who assists local magistrates) and enjoy the quiet life. However, any thoughts he had of a peaceful existence are soon shattered by narrow-minded disputes, arguments about livestock and large portions of blarney. The gullible Yeates soon finds himself in hot water and being taken advantage of by his sly scheming landlord, Flurry Knox (Bryan Murray).
Following the runaway success of Dad's Army, co-creator Jimmy Perry drew on his experiences as a member of a Royal Artillery Concert Party in Deolali, India, to create (with his partner David Croft) another war-bound comedy series. Based in India it was the concert party's job to entertain the troupes and although these were hardly ever in evidence the 'boys to entertain you' were kept on their toes by their loud mouthed Sgt Major Williams (Windsor Davies), or 'Old Shut Up' as they preferred to call him. In turn he referred to them (in the days before political correctness had been invented) as 'A bunch of pooftahs', content to sing and dance their way through the hostilities rather than fight. Even less PC was the fact that Michael Bates was asked to put on brown make-up for the part of local servant (or Walah) Rangi Ram, a fact that led to the odd suggestion of racism. However, in his defence Bates would always claim (somewhat tongue in cheek) that as he was born in India and spoke Hindustani before he had learned English, and as the other two locals in the cast, Punka Wallah Rumzan (Babar Bhatti) and Char-Wallah Muhammed (Dino Shafeek) were born outside of India themselves, that he was in fact the only true Indian in the cast! Controversy aside It Ain't Half Hot Mum with its band of misfits never quite lived up to Perry and Croft's finest hour although it survived for eight series'.
The concert party themselves mainly consisted of Bombardier Solomons (George Layton -although he left after series two), Bombardier Beaumont (Melvyn Hayes), who because he was somewhat effeminate and dressed up in drag for the concerts was referred to throughout as 'Gloria', an intellectual pianist referred to by Williams as 'Mr Lah-de-Dah' Gunner Graham (John Clegg), Lofty (Don Estelle)-so called because in stark contrast to his nickname he was extremely small, and Gunner 'Lovely Boy' Parkins (Christopher Mitchell), the only member of the troupe that Williams had a soft spot for-but only because he believed the youngster to be his illegitimate son. (The series title was taken from the closing line of Parkins' letters back home to his mother). To add further to the Welsh BSM's frustration, the entire troupe was run by a couple of buffoons in the shape of Colobnel Reynolds (Donald Hewlett) and Captain Ashwood (Michael Knowles). By the time Michael Bates died (between series 5 and 6), the show was already established in the minds and hearts of the British public. Davies and Estelle formed something of a double act and recorded a single 'Whispering Grass' -which, not unsurprisingly, given Britain's love of novelty records, went straight to the top of the charts upon its release in 1975.
It's a Living placed long-time comedy double-act Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris in a small general store where they had to be hard-working, thrifty and law-abiding if they wanted to make a living. Jimmy and Ben took over what they were told was 'a little gold mine,' but the only thing they struck really rich was trouble. Fanny Carby and 13-year old Adrienne Poster (later Posta) played the roles of Warris's wife and daughter. Poster had made her television debut a year before in the drama series Harper's West One, and had also appeared in the detective series Top Secret. In her later teens she became a very familiar face in the kind of British movies that typified the 'swinging 60s'. Also in this series was Lance Percival as a rather shifty character called 'Foxy.' Only four episodes were made and it was the last TV series for the two cousins who had first teamed up in 1934, although the act didn't finally break up until 1967. At that time both men planned to retire, but an offer from the BBC became the springboard for a second (and arguably more) successful run for Jimmy Jewel (the most memorable of which was the role of Eli Pledge in Nearest and Dearest). Ben Warris came out of retirement for one more TV appearance, the televised Royal Variety Show of 1980, and passed away at the age of 85 in 1993. Jewel (also born in 1909) survived him by two years.
If Do Not Adjust Your Set was the catalyst for Monty Python's Flying Circus, then Michael Bentine's It's A Square World was undoubtedly the founding father of the surreal sketch show; combining satire, zany slapstick and animated models to put across a style of TV comedy that pushed the boundaries of the genre to its absolute limit. Michael Bentine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, on 26th January 1922, the son of a Peruvian immigrant who had arrived in Britain at the turn of the century. As a child he lost his power of speech for 13 years but recovered in time to attend Eton. Following his education and his period of service for Britain in WWll, Michael decided he wanted to be a comedian and auditioned at London's famous Windmill Theatre. It was here that he met fellow ex-services entertainer Harry Secombe, a fun loving Welshman with an offbeat sense of humour that was very similar to Michael's. Secombe introduced Bentine to his other friends; Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, and the group would often meet up at a pub run by Secombe's writer and agent Jimmy Grafton. From those meetings at the Grafton Arms the quartet developed the idea for The Goon Show, which went on to become the most famous British radio show of all time. However, Bentine left after the second series to continue touring in his own show and in 1954 was offered a TV series by the BBC-a children's puppet series called The Bumblies. Following numerous appearances on other shows and another series, After Hours (1958-59), he made his best remembered series It's A Square World.
Following the pilot show, Bentine was taken seriously ill and unable to work for six months. However, the BBC commissioned a full series of 12 editions and as soon as he was able to return to work again he began shooting the episodes. During its run the series featured many memorable moments including a Chinese Junk sailing up the Thames to sink the Houses of Parliament; discovering that the source of the Thames was a dripping tap; sending BBC Television Centre into orbit around the Earth and planting a 40ft whale outside the Natural History Museum (held up by 25 men hidden inside the model as it tried to get inside the museum building). This stunt threw London's traffic into complete chaos. Bentine was supported by what was to become a veritable Who's Who of British TV stars, including Dick Emery, Frank Thornton, Clive Dunn, Deryck Guyler, John Bluthal and Ronnie Barker, all of whom would later become stars in their own right. The series led Bentine to a BAFTA award in 1962 for Best Comedy Performance and a compilation show, screened by the BBC in 1963, won that year's Golden Globe of Montreaux award. In 1966 Bentine's show 'defected' to the ITV as All Square before returning home for a one-off special in 1977 called Michael Bentine's Square World. As ground-breakingly original a series as the resolutely off-centre, quicksilver comedic mind which conceived it, It's A Square World was a literal quantum leap forward for a new wave of British televised comedy, the ripples of which not only spread worldwide, but also reshaped acceptable standards for the genre in the process.
It was John Cleese who first suggested that scriptwriter Marty Feldman make his debut in front of the camera's for At Last The 1948 Show in 1967, realising that the 34-year old eastender's natural comedic timing, personality and appearance would be a big hit with the television audience. At first Feldman resisted, subconscious of his bulging eyes, the result of an earlier operation for a severe thyroid condition. But Cleese persisted, Feldman relented and a major new star was born. Within a year Feldman was whisked off to the BBC, given his own show and the experience of Dennis Main Wilson to produce two series of 6 - 30 minute sketch shows, which went on to win the Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Light Entertainment Series as well as a BAFTA for Best Script. Although the main writers were Feldman and Barry Took many of the future 'Monty Python' team contributed sketches, and whilst John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin remained firmly behind the scenes, two other writers Tim Brooke Taylor and John Junkin joined Feldman in front of camera. Some of the sketches are as fondly remembered as the best that 'Python' had to offer, amongst them 'The Day in the Life of a Stunt Man,' 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Golfer,' 'A Night in the Life of a Chartered Accountant' and one memorable sketch in which Feldman pays a visit to the vet with a rather large basket in tow.
The shows, originally aired on BBC2, very quickly got repeat runs on the main BBC1 channel where they immediately shot to No. 4 in the ratings and made Feldman a household name. In 1970 Feldman, Took and Denis Norden scripted a feature film entitled Every Home Should Have One and the star was soon on his way to Hollywood to co-star in both Mel Brooks' Silent Movie alongside Dom De Luise, Sid Caesar and a host of guest stars from Burt Reynolds to Liza Minnelli, before appearing in the comedy classic Young Frankenstein, as the hilariously funny hunchback with the mobile hump, Ygor. Feldman only really made one more full-length series for TV (The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine in 1971), which failed to reach the dizzy heights of its predecessor and the star eventually settled in the USA. After this his career went into decline and he died of a heart attack whilst filming the Graham Chapman scripted movie Yellowbeard in 1982. Unfairly eclipsed by the massive comedic shadow cast by 'Monty Python', Marty Feldman's crucial contribution to this seminal sub genre of surreal humour has remained neglected and under appreciated for far too long. Subversive, surreal and perhaps ultimately self-destructive, Marty Feldman's genius as both writer and performer undoubtedly qualifies him as one of the great unsung heroes of British comedy. (co-writer Stephen R. Hulse)
Roger Moore in his TV series debut starred as Sir Walter Scott's 19th century hero Wilfred of Ivanhoe. Moore has since stated how much he hated this series, but it was his first step to immortality as one of the biggest international stars on television. Returning from the Crusades to find that the evil Prince John (Andrew Keir) has seized power from his absent brother King Richard, Ivanhoe frees two doomed serfs, Gurth (Robert Brown) and Bart (John Pike), before setting about righting wrongs and helping those in distress. This type of swashbuckling historical series was a staple diet of ITV in it's early days and this series, aimed at younger viewers, followed the standard format of rousing swordplay and excellent stunt work, most of which the star of the series insisted on doing himself. Guest stars on the series included Christopher Lee and John Schlesinger and Ivanhoe's executive producer Peter Rogers went on to develop the 'Carry On' series of films.
In December 1956 Columbia approached Roger Moore to play the title role in an intended 39 episode adventure series for transmission in both America and the UK. In early 1957 the series went before the cameras in fields around Beaconsfield in rural Buckinghamshire. The series began on UK television in January 1958 in the late afternoon Children's Hour and continued shooting until that summer. With only fleeting references to Sir Walter Scott's original, Ivanhoe the television series was full of swirling swords and derring-do. Moore threw himself into these with so much fervour that he ended up being kicked by his horse, cutting his hand on his broadsword, suffering three cracked ribs from an over enthusiastic extra and his lance, and being knocked unconscious when the flat of a battleaxe collided with his (fortunately) helmeted skull. "I felt a complete Charlie riding around in all that armour and damned stupid plumed helmet," he said. "I felt like a medieval fireman." The dangers were not just confined to the set either, as Moore wrote in his diary: "I stepped from a car at the stage door where a mob of teenagers surrounded me with autograph requests. I was smoking a cigarette and to have both hands free I stuck it in my mouth. Suddenly a teenage cockney voice said "'Ere Mate, let's 'ave a souvenir," and my cigarette was pulled out of my mouth taking a lump of lip with it. At the same time I felt a button go and a hand on my fly. My proudest possession was about to be produced for public examination. I hollered and fled."
At thirty years of age Moore was worried that the series might typecast him and in spite of the growing adulation he was receiving from fans of the series when Warner Brothers offered him a role in a movie called The Miracle he was more than happy for them to obtain his release from Columbia. In July 1958 Roger left the muddy fields of Beaconsfield for the glamour of Los Angeles. Although The Miracle was not a great success (both Richard Burton and Dirk Bogarde had turned down the part) Moore's charismatic charm brought him to the notice of US producer Roy Huggins who employed him to replace James Garner in the popular series Maverick, when Garner quit over a contract dispute. Moore was not over enthusiastic about Maverick, either, and by the time he joined it's best years were behind it. At the end of his run he swore he'd never do another television series. Within a year he was offered The Saint and television immortality beckoned.
5 minute animation series from the prolific team of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin which concerned itself with the adventures of a small green railway engine running out of the Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company, which was, according to the narrator, "In the top left-hand corner of Wales." Ivor was driven by Jones the Steam who worked alongside his colleagues Owen the Signal and Dai Station, the man who looked after Llianog Station. Ivor's boiler was fired by Idris the dragon and the little engines ambition was to sing in the choir like his friend Evans the Song. All the films were made in the barn of Peter Firmin's 18th century farmhouse near Canterbury, the cowshed acting as his studio whilst Postgate was assigned the pigsty. According to Postgate the shows airing at 1.15 in the afternoon clashed with board meetings at Associated Rediffusion, but not wishing to miss a single episode the board members ordered a television be wheeled in, the meeting stopped whilst they watched Ivor and then the television was wheeled out again and the meeting resumed. The series moved to BBC in 1976.
Izeena lives in her magic tree house in a world of animal friends. The animals share their secrets and adventures with Izeena and she alone can take you into the strange world of Charlie and Charlotte Chimp, Goodsense Gibbon, Huggable Potto and all her friends. This offbeat series from Anglia Television, shot on location in Africa, mixed fantasy with a wildlife conservation message in an attempt to educate viewers to the world around them. While its style was more Lewis Carroll Izeena was most likely influenced by Disney who excelled in this type of production. Playing Izeena, the zany girl who could talk to the animals, was Fenella Fielding who did not have the luxury of visiting the exotic locations in the filmed sequences. She was studio bound and looked at the animals through her telescope from her treehouse. (Reference: TV Times).