Reviews

THE JACK JACKSON SHOW (1958)

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Show ImageAccording to the 1958 ATV Show Book "no world of jazz and pop fantasy was ever more fantastic, more unexpected, funnier or, when it needs to be, pleasingly sentimental than this thing called The Jack Jackson Show." Jack Jackson was a bandleader and trumpeter who gave up his musical career in the late 1940s to compere a BBC radio series called Band Parade. In June 1948 he was given his own late-night record show called Record Round Up and over the next twenty years his unique style made him a household name and influenced a generation of radio disc jockey's, not least of all Kenny Everett. Jackson's trademark was his lightning cuts between comedy extracts and mock-interviews utilising quick soundbites from popular radio and television programmes of the day such as The Goon Show, Hancock, Benny Hill and (later) Steptoe and Son and Till Death Us Do Part. All this between the musical hits of the day. He was one of the first DJ's to try and transfer the same format to television (Everett did this more successfully with his 'Video' show in the 70s and 80s), and although he received a huge amount of fan mail, the ATV series, which ran on Saturday night's in 1958 was seen as something of a failed experiment. Rehearsal's for the show were done at a small studio in Foley Street in London's West End, and passers by would have seen a whole host of stars wandering in and out of those premises on any given day of the week. Those stars included Alma Cogan, Paddy O'Neil and her husband Alfred Marks (although the latter was not a regular), a very young Judy Carne, Libby Morris, Bill Haydn and Glen Mason. It is said that Sean Connery, a close friend of Mason's would also drop in and say "hello" once in a while. The format of the TV show was similar to the radio series with quick-fire comedy and soundbites but with Mason, O'Neil and Joan Savage miming to the snippets of dialogue. The series was produced by Peter Glover. When Radio One was launched in 1967 Jackson transferred from The Light Programme to host Record Roundabout which lasted until June 1968. He passed away in 1978, just short of his 72nd birthday. For a time one of radio's forgotten heroes, Jack Jackson was hugely influential and is now recognised in the Radio Academy Hall of Fame where some sound clips are available. Radio Academy - Jack Jackson

JACK THE RIPPER (1988)

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Victorian drama about London's unsolved East End murders. Click Here for review

JACKANORY (1965)

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Celebrities read popular stories to younger viewers. Click Here for review

JACKS AND KNAVES (1961)

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Show ImageA bit of an oddity - this short series (only four episodes), billed by the Radio Times in November 1961 as a "comedy documentary," was apparently based around the exploits of retired Liverpool CID Detective Sergeant William Prendergast. TV writer Colin Morris had previously met the DS when he went to Liverpool in search of material for Tearaway, a dramatised documentary about the intimidation of witnesses. Morris described Prendergast as a big beefy, granite-faced man with a formidable air of authority, and as tough as they come. In twenty-eight years with the Liverpool CID Prendergast became a specialist in interrogation - so successfully that two years after his retirement, the files on his cases were still being used to train young detectives. "I never took a note when I was interrogating." said Prendergast when interviewed for the Radio Times. "I have a photographic memory, so I just used to sit and let them go on talking - till three, five, six o'clock in the morning. I've sat with them through the small hours and watched the moon go down and the sun come up, and suddenly they've made the one slip. And I've said: "D'you remember what you told me at eleven o'clock? And now you say this? All right. Let's start all over again ..."" The dialogue Colin Morris wrote for John Barrie who played Detective Sergeant Tom Hitchin in the TV series attempted to catch the authentic flavour of Prendergast in action: "a tough character," as Calder described him, "with a great sense of humour and much humanity". The title; Jacks and Knaves was inspired by the fact that, in the early 1960s, Liverpudlians branded police officers as "Jacks", whilst officers referred to criminals as "Knaves." The programme is notable for being the forerunner to the highly successful Z-Cars (and is sometimes cited as the inspiration for it), but the branding of the genre as "comedy documentary" is an unusual one. The series was created and written by Colin Morris and produced and directed by Gilchrist Calder.

JAMIE (1971)

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Show ImageSunday teatime series aimed at children and no doubt inspired by the success of the previous year's Timeslip, Jamie was yet another variation on the time travel theme with, in this case, the hero being transported from era to era on a magic carpet. On his journey's Jamie (Garry Miller), accompanied by his friend, Tink (Nigel Chivers) encountered famous figures from British history such as Guy Fawkes (in the story entitled "Remember, Remember") and Horatio Nelson ("England Expects"). The other constant in the series was the enigmatic Mr Zed (Aubrey Morris) who always encouraged Jamie on his travels and seemed to know a lot more about the magic carpet than he ever let on. The one thing that he did reveal was that neither Jamie nor Tink, try as they might, could ever change history.

JANE (1982)

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Show Image Jane was originally a comic strip created and drawn by Norman Pett for the London edition of the the Daily Mirror and appeared from 5th December 1932 to 10th October 1959. Originally entitled 'Jane's Journal, the Diary of a Bright Young Thing,' the saucy strip featured the misadventures of a hapless heroine who had a disconcerting habit of losing her outer garments until she had to struggle through her various escapades in nothing much more than her underwear. After the Second World War broke out the young lass (modelled it is said on Pett's wife) shed even more of her clothes until she was virtually naked. Rather than cause any public outcry this was greeted with great enthusiasm as it was seen as a morale booster for British soldiers posted - or about to be posted abroad. In 1945 King Features attempted to syndicate Jane strips in the United States, but, the amount of nudity was too much for American audiences and the attempt ceased in 1946. Actress Christabel Leighton-Porter (also claimed to have been the model for the character) toured the music halls with a striptease-act as Jane, and later she played in the movie 'The Adventures of Jane', which came out in 1949. The adventures of Jane were revived in 1982 by the BBC and starred a pre-Dempsey and Makepeace Glynis Barber who had previously appeared on the popular science fiction series Blake's 7 playing Soolin in the final series. Each adventure lasted around ten minutes and inventively mixed live action with animated backgrounds which were screened on consecutive weekday nights with an omnibus edition at the weekend. Two years later Jane returned again for another five episodes entitled Jane in the Desert.

JASON KING (1971)

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Show Image A spin-off from the popular ITC series Department S, Jason King starred Peter Wyngarde as the flamboyant playboy investigator and author of his own fictional detective Mark Caine. Forced into working for the government over tax evasion charges by Sir Brian (veteran British actor Dennis Price), and his assistant Ryland (Ronald Lacey), King set out on a series of adventures that were more down to earth than his Department S cases. However, it didn't stop him from enjoying an extravagant lifestyle which necessitated fast cars, foriegn travel and a bevvy of beautiful girls. His publisher, Nicola Harvester was played by Ann Sharp. Wyngarde wasn't overly keen on having a series all to himself and felt that the it was mistake to build the series around King minus the two agents (Joel Fabiani and Rosemary Nicols) from the original series. It seems as though he was not alone in his trepidation as ATV chief Lew Grade was reluctant to bankroll the series, which explains the two year gap between 'DS' and this series. But in the end Grade relented telling Wyngarde he was only getting the show because 'my wife likes you.' It seems as though Lady Grade wasn't the only woman who enjoyed Wyngarde's on-screen charm as the women of Australia voted Wyngarde as the man they most wanted to lose their virginity to-no really! Elsewhere the series was a huge hit, too and Jason King became a huge money spinner for ITC, although sadly not for Wyngarde who didn't recieve a penny in royalties and then got hopelessly typecast before being involved in a sex scandal that put paid to the image of any woman losing her virginity to him forever.

JENNIE, LADY RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (1974)

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Biographical drama series about the life of Winston Churchill's mother. Click Here for review

THE JENSEN CODE (1973)

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Show Image Children's drama series broadcast over 13 episodes from February 1973. Written by Carey Harrison (son of actor Rex Harrison), The Jensen Code told the tale of 16 year-old Terry Connor (Dai Bradley) who is sent to an outdoor activity centre in Derbyshire. Along with Alex (Tony Wright) he stumbles across a plot to steal the Jensen Code from a nearby Ministry of Defence base. The codes creator is then murdered, but not before entrusting Terry with the code. The trouble is Terry doesn't know to trust and his dilemma is further complicated when he wakes up in hospital with his memory of the code completely erased.

THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN (1984)

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The last days of the Raj. Click Here for review