To fill the longer-than-usual gap between seasons eighteen and nineteen of Doctor Who the BBC screened The Five Faces of Doctor Who, a series of repeats that featured each of The Doctor's incarnations (the first time a repeat was shown that didn't star the incumbent actor). The show's current producer, John Nathan-Turner, had also suggested to his BBC superiors, a spin-off programme (the first in the series history), featuring The Doctor's robotic computerised dog, K9, who had been dropped from the regular series in 1980. To give the would-be spin-off the best possible chance of success, Nathan-Turner also bought back one of fan's favourite companions from the show's history; Sarah Jane Smith as played by Elizabeth Sladen. Sarah, an intrepid reporter, returns from working for Reuters in the USA to visit her aunt Lavinia, but instead comes across Brendan, Lavinia's ward. Also in her aunt's house is a box sent by The Doctor. In it, she finds K9. When Brendan is kidnapped by a local coven of witches who want to use him in a sacrificial ceremony, it is up to Sarah and K9 to come to the rescue. The special was watched by a respectable 8.4 million viewers, but the option of a full series was never taken up. K9 finally returned to our screens in the post 2005 series of Doctor Who and finally got a full series, with full CGI graphic effects, in 2010. The series was made in Australia and aired on Disney XD - where it was best left.
By the 1980's, the American nuclear family was becoming an endangered species on US television, with a growing number of fictional households run by a single parent because of divorce or other circumstances. Kate & Allie personified that trend by featuring two newly divorced women who decide to combine their households in one crowded New York apartment. Despite their differences, they made it work. And so did this well-written, well-acted sitcom. High school friends Kate McArdle (Susan Saint James) and Allie Lowell (Jane Curtin) were not alike. Kate was more assertive but not terribly domestic. Allie was more uptight and practical. Not only did Kate and Allie bring their personalities to their Greenwich Village home, they brought their children. Kate had young Emma (Ari Meyers); Allie was the devoted mom to Chip and Jennie (Frederick Koehler and Allison Smith). Kate & Allie debuted in the USA as a midseason replacement. Despite its late start, the show immediately jumped into the top ten. Saint James and Curtin made an excellent team, and the scripts focused on such issues as parenting, dating after divorce, and getting along with ex-spouses. (Most episodes were directed by the legendary Bill Persky, who worked on such comedies as The Dick Van Dyke Show and That Girl. Kate's ex was part-time actor Max; Allie was divorced from Charles (played occasionally by Paul Hecht). Jane Curtin won two Emmy awards for her role as Allie Lowell. After Kate & Allie, Curtin went on to even more sitcom success as Doctor Mary Albright on Third Rock From The Sun. Saint James has guest-starred on a number of television series in recent years. While not really groundbreaking entertainment, Kate & Allie was well-done and blessed with two very funny women as leads. Their chemistry helped the show gain a following, and it remains one of the best-remembered US sitcoms of the 1980's. (Review: Mike Spadoni)
1964 will long be remembered for the year of the Mersey sound and when The Beatles came to the fore as the pop icons of the 1960s. However, one of the fastest-moving careers in show business was as far removed from the lovable mop-tops and the Liverpool explosion as possible. It came to a new peak when Kathy Kirby starred for the first time in her own programme. In little more than a year the attractive blonde from Ilford, Essex made a name for herself as a recording artist with two huge hits; 'Dance On' and 'Secret Love' - selling almost a million copies. The show was produced by Ernest Maxin who said at the time 'Kathy has tremendous potential. In preperation for the show she has been working twelve hours a day learning dancing and the finer points of comedy, and I believe it will prove her a top-rank all-round entertainer.' Often compared to Marilyn Monroe, Kathy was only sixteen when she first sang in an Ilford dance hall with the Ambrose Band. The standard format created for Kirby in The Kathy Kirby Show, a mixture of song, dance, comedic sketches and special guest stars was copied in subsequent shows for Cilla Black, Lulu and Dusty Springfield. Kirby became one of the biggest stars of the early to mid 1960s, appearing in the Royal Command Variety Performance and this was the first of three television series for BBC-tv. During the 1970s Kirby's singing career was eclipsed by a turbulent personal life, she gave one last concert in Blackpool in 1983 and after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, she retired from showbiz. Kirby passed away in 2011.
Late night interview series from Associated Rediffusion in which Robert Kee and Bernard Levin set the questions to key political and current affairs figures. Kee started his journalistic career on Picture Post magazine in 1949 before joining The Observer newspaper for whom he was a correspondent during the Suez Crisis in 1956. By the time he joined ITV in 1965 he was already a seasoned television reporter having done a stint on the BBC current affairs programme Panorama. Levin, a reporter and political commentator had apperared regularly on BBC television's weekly late-night satirical revue, That Was The Week That Was (aka TW3), where he conducted interviews and delivered monologues to camera about his pet hates. Sometimes scathing and forthright in his opinions Levin was no stranger to controversy and was once punched in the face during a live broadcast by a male member of the audience who took exception to a severe and critical review of a show that Levin had commented on the week before. Apparently, the show starred the man's wife. Fortunately, Levin managed to finish the single series of Kee and Levin unscathed.
Keeping Up Appearances became one of the best loved British television sitcoms ever, with great casting and acting and the writing talents of Roy Clarke who has written some of the best and funniest sitcoms that have ever graced our TV screens, like Last of the Summer Wine and Open All Hours. Keeping up Appearances ran for five series from 1990 to 1995, with 44 episodes including four Christmas specials. Not only was the show a huge success in the UK, it was also very popular in the United States and Australia. Patricia Routledge starred as the Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet), who spends her entire time trying to climb the local social ladder, much to the dismay of her long suffering husband Richard, played by Clive Swift. It is Richard that has to put up with the worst of Hyacinth's behaviour and the man must truly have what can only be described as having the patients of a saint. Hyacinth is not a bad person, just one that has high standards that she would like other people to live up to, even though she struggles to meet these standards herself. Hyacinth is just so desperate to rise above her lower middle class standing in society and longs for her candle-lit suppers to be an unmissable event on the local social calender. The thing is, with Hyacinth nothing ever goes to plan, whether it's the local amateur dramatics latest production, or a luxury ocean cruise, something is always guaranteed to go wrong at some point.
Keeping up Appearances has a great supporting group of characters as well. Hyacinth's family continue to be a source of embarrassment to her. She has three sisters, the man hungry Rose who was originally played by Shirley Stelfox in the first series but then was replaced by Mary Millar for the rest of the shows run. Another sister Violet, who has a swimming pool, sauna and room for a pony, is not seen in the show until the last series played by Anna Dawson, but she does often phone Hyacinth and ask for advice about her husband, who has a penchant for cross dressing. It is her sister Daisy and her work-shy husband Onslow that cause Hyacinth the most embarrassment. Daisy and Onslow, played by brilliantly Judy Cornwell and the sadly missed Geoffrey Hughes, are the members of her family she would rather not admit to. They live on the local council state and share their house with Rose and the girls Daddy, who when he is seen, is often re-enacting the war, complete with bayoneted rifle! Then there are the neighbours Elizabeth and her brother Emmet who are often reluctantly involved in her attempts to integrate with the great and the good of the local parish. There are some brilliant running jokes through the whole of the series, like a very nervous Elizabeth played by Josephine Tewson, being unable to drink a cup of the coffee round the Bucket's house without smashing a cup of Hyacinth's best Royal Doulton with the hand painted periwinkles. Elizabeth's divorced brother Emmet lives in fear of Hyacinth, fearing that she will sing at him! Hyacinth actually thinks that Emmet's nerves are down to him being infatuated with her. Emmet is brilliantly underplayed by David Griffin.
There are other characters that put in appearances during the series, like the young Vicar and his
wife, who Hyacinth is always out to impress and the postman who cannot deliver a letter or parcel
without having to abide by Hyacinth's complaints. Then there is Hyacinth's son Sheridan who is
never seen but often on the phone to his mother, asking for some financial help while he is studying needlework at college. It is not hard to see why this show is still so popular whenever and where ever it is shown. It has a formula it follows, but it works so well with such a brilliant cast with such well written scripts.
(Review: Glyn Howells)
THE KENNY EVERETT VIDEO SHOW (1978)
Madcap comedy starring a former radio disc jockey. Click Here for review
A young boxer's career is destroyed by a scheming woman (Jenny Laird) when she convinces him to murder her husband; a fight manager. Johnny Flanagan is played by Michael Medwin making his TV debut and Sid James (billed as Sidney James) stars as the Kid's promoter, Sharkey Morrison. This one-off (live) play based on Max Catto's novel was broadcast on BBC television on 1st August 1948 and produced by Joel O'Brien. In 1950, American producer Robert Lippert formed a business alliance with Hammer studios (to produce a number of b-movies) and in 1953, under the name of Exclusive, they produced a big-screen version called The Flanagan Boy (US title Bad Blonde). The blonde is played by US actress Barbara Peyton who plays up the femme fatale's sexuality more obviously than would have been seen in the TV production as she first seduces Flanagan and then convinces him to do the dirty deed. Sid James reprised his TV role for the movie.
Adam Knight (John Turner) is a modern day slayer of dragons although the 'dragons' in this series are blackmailers, confidence tricksters and thieves. Knight has drifted from one job to another without much satisfaction until he decides to set up his own business. He takes out an advertisement in a newspaper which reads: "Knight Errant '59. Quests undertaken, dragons defeated, damsels rescued. Anything, anywhere, for anyone, so long as it helps. Fees according to means" and he soon has no shortage of customers. Aided and abetted by ex-'Daily Clarion' journalist Liz Parrish (Kay Callard) and young writer Peter Parker (Richard Carpenter) Knight sets up an 'adventurer for hire' agency called 'Knight Errant.' The series returned the following year as Knight Errant '60 and later there are a few cast changes. Adam takes on Toby Hollister (William Fox) as his new business consultant before leaving himself to be replaced by publisher Stephen Drummond (Hugh David) at which point the series title changed to Knight Errant Limited. Many guest stars in the 1960 series would go on to become regular screen faces and included Dermot Kelly (The Arthur Haynes Show), Roger Delgado (The Master in Doctor Who), David McCallum (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Dudley Sutton (Tinker in Lovejoy), Sam Kydd (Orlando), Paul Eddington (Yes Minister and The Good Life), Brian Pringle (The Dustbinmen), William Roache, Peter Adamson and Doris Speed (all of whom were about to embark on a new series called Coronation Street as Ken Barlow, Len Fairclough and Annie Walker), Peter Vaughan (Harry Grout in Porridge) -and in an episode broadcast on Tuesday 12th April, 1960, a photographer was played by a young actor by the name of Michael Caine. Richard Carpenter took the same career path of his character by becoming a writer off screen and created (among other series) Catweazle. The theme of a modern-day crusader and champion of the underdog for hire was revisited in the 1980s US series The Equalizer.
A team of children attempt to traverse a medieval (computer generated) environment and complete a quest to exit a dungeon. Click Here for review
Set in the year 2020, Great Britain has been devastated by civil war after years of political unrest, the government has been overthrown and the Royal Family executed. Now the country has been split between north and south, London has been destroyed and replaced by Winchester as the capital. A Military governing elite, called the Knights of God, is led by Prior Mordrin (John Woodvine), a ruthless dictator, who is out to destroy anyone who gets in his way. The Knights are still struggling for complete control and fighting a war of attrition against a group of Welsh freedom fighters that Mordrin is obsessed with destroying. Owen Edwards (Gareth Thomas) is the leader of the resistance but it his son, Gervase Owen Edwards (George Winter), who is key to the plot. When he is captured by Mordrin he is given mind-altering drugs which are used to implant orders into his head that he should seek out and destroy the Prior's "greatest enemy," the surviving King of Britain. On the way Gervase meets and falls in love with Julia (Claire Parker). When it is revealed that Gervase himself is the King, only his love for Julia prevents him from obeying Mordrin's command by killing himself. The series was first mentioned in a 'TV Times' issue dated September 1985 in which it showed a photograph of Don Henderson in character but it wasn't screened for another two years, by which time both Patrick Troughton and Nigel Stock, who appear in major roles, had both died. This made it Troughton's last transmitted (although not last recorded) role. Andrew Morgan and Michael Kerrigan shared the directors chair for different episodes and the executive producer was Anna Home. The series was written by Richard Cooper, a writer who had previously worked in both children's and adult telelvision drama and who published a tie-in novelisation in 1987 which included a lot of material not used in the televised version. The series was shown on Sunday afternoons in the traditional family viewing slot that had previously seen the likes of Catweazle and Worzel Gummidge, but Knights of God was decidedly more adult in its content, right from the opening credits which showed a burning Union Jack, helicopters flying through flames and armies of black-clad soldiers carrying machine guns.
Early Sunday evening presentation shown under the Heyday Theatre banner. This four-part children's adventure series was a modern version of Marion St. John Webb's story (originally published in 1917), starring 15-year old 4ft 5in Jack Wild, by this time internationally famous as the Artful Dodger in Lionel Bart's musical 'Oliver!' Wild was teamed with young Sally-Ann Jones - three years his junior but the same height - to play twins Jack and Molly. Comedienne Hattie Jacques starred as their Aunt Nancy, a magical lady who lead the children off into a world of fun and fantasy. The serial started at the children's 12th birthday party, presided over by Nancy. Later, when the twins are in bed, Molly has a dream about one of her presents, a pin cushion, which turns into a walking "Grey Pumpkin Man" (played by diminutive character actor Norman McGleen). The rest of the serial was devoted to Molly's fantasy world, where she and Jack got involved in all sorts of adventures. Two stars from Please Sir! appeared in the series; Eric Chitty and Liz Gebhardt.
Beginning life as an award winning 1973 TV Movie The Marcus-Nelson Murders (based on the true life Wylie-Hoffert case), and played with charismatic charm by long established movie actor Telly Savalas as the New York cop with a penchant for sucking lollipops, the series went for a graphic 'street level' realism which turned it into an instant top-ten hit in it's first season. Lt. Kojak was a tough cop with a smart mouth and wits even sharper than his top flight dress sense. Support came from George Savalas (brother of Telly), as Detective Stavros, Dan Frazer as Chief Frank McNeil, and a small team of hitherto unknown actors who were destined to become, for a while, instantly recognisable household names. The series was a global hit and even after it's five year run it was brought back in a succession of TVM's, the last being made in 1989. By this time Theo Kojak had been promoted to the rank of Inspector. In 1993 Savalas sued the makers of Kojak, Universal TV, for $6 million, his claimed 25 per cent of the programmes profits. He died a year later. The series elevated Savalas to the status of superstar and (unlikely) sex-symbol. In 1975 at the height of his popularity he even topped the popular music charts with a cheesy version of David Gates' song "If". However, his musical career was cut mercifully short when his next recording ("You've Lost That Loving Feeling") only just managed to creep into the top fifty at number 47, where it stayed for one week before vanishing forever. Kojak reclaimed the city of New York's dubious crown as 'Crime Capital of the World', from a decades long stint on the sun-drenched head of the street's of Southern California. The television viewing world loved Savalas for it. New Yorker's loved him even more.