Frustrated by the rules and regulations that hampered his criminal investigations, Detective Vic Steele (Rex Garner) turned his back on Scotland Yard and the Flying Squad to set up his own private detective agency. Assisted by his trusty Cockney sidekick Ginger Smart (George Moon), Steele set up a company called Shadow Squad. Steele and Smart went about solving whatever case came their way, although there were times when they needed the help of their trusted and, it must be noted, very alert charlady Mrs Moggs (Kathleen Boutall) who often noticed a vital clue that had escaped the two sleuths. The largely based studio-bound series was noted for its moody quality, often employing stark close-ups and also for using a two-part format - the first and second episode being aired on different nights of the same week. The first 26 episodes were filmed in London and produced by Associated Rediffusion but after these 13 adventures the rest of the run came courtesy of Granada Television. Its not clear if it was Granada or the actor who played him who made the decision, but once the shooting moved 'up North' the character of Vic Steele left (apparently to take up a long-term assignment in Australia) to be replaced by a former Scotland Yard DI, Don Carter (Peter Williams). This was proved to be a popular move with the viewers and the series continued until June 1959, the last episode finishing in somewhat bizarre fashion with actors Moon and Williams dropping out of character, introducing themselves by their real names and then walking off the studio set. Moon took his character, now employed as a security man, into a short lived spin-off series called Skyport.
Short-lived sitcom starring Norwegian born comedian Digby Wolfe who, in 1957, was something of a rising star on British television having already starred in an earlier sitcom as well as playing host on a series called Variety Showtime. Wolfe's previous series was called Wolfe At The Door and was made in 1956 for the fledgling ATV Company, although it was only screened in the Midlands. It's a great shame because in that particular series, written by Tony Hawes and Richard Waring, Wolfe co-starred with Hattie Jacques and Charles Hawtrey, both of whom would win lasting fame as stalwarts of the Carry On... series of movies. Sheep's Clothing (titled so the programme announcer could make the introduction "And now, Digby Wolfe in Sheep's Clothing") was written by Sid Green and Dick Hills, years before they would become the regular scriptwriters for Morecambe and Wise. In the series Wolfe played a 'bit-of-a-wide-boy', (at that time a popular expression for someone who was sly or cunning), who, when forced to seek employment decided that he would start at the top. The singer Lita Roza was Wolfe's girlfriend and Ronnie Corbett starred as his valet repeating a routine that Wolfe and Corbett had perfected in a BBC variety series called The Yana Show. However, there was to be no long-standing double-act for the duo because Wolfe eventually decided to move to Australia where he established himself as a star before moving on yet again. His next port of call was the USA where he became one of the regular writers for the hit US comedy show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
One of the lesser known televisual incarnations of Arthur Conan Doyle's quintessential master detective aired its thirty-nine black and white episodes between October 1954 and October 1955, and starred Ronald Howard (son of legendary British big screen idol, Leslie Howard) as Holmes and experienced British character actor H. Marion Crawford as the ever reliable Dr. John Watson with Archie Duncan as Inspector Lestrade. Produced on a low budget by Sheldon Reynolds, who also directed a majority of the episodes, the series mixed vastly truncated and simplified adaptations of a number of Conan Doyle's celebrated stories with newly created adventures, which succeeded in the main in capturing the spirit of the originals. Another interesting aspect of the series was the fact that it was filmed entirely in Paris, France, giving it the distinction of being one of the earliest examples of multi-national TV co-productions. As for the all-important central casting, both Howard and Crawford respectively fill the roles of Holmes and Watson pleasingly, in terms of both character and expected physical aspects. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)
The media's long love affair with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most iconic creation was already firmly established in the public consciousness world-wide when in 1964, as part of a prestige anthology series entitled The Detectives, the BBC presented an hour long version of one of the best known Sherlock Holmes stories. The Speckled Band featuring noted stage screen and film character actor Douglas Wilmer as the latest incarnation of Baker Street's most famous resident. The success of the one episode resulted in the commissioning of a fully-fledged series of twelve black and white episodes in 1965 under the directly simple Sherlock Holmes banner title, and produced by the experienced David Goddard.
These adaptations again featured Douglas Wilmer as Holmes, the ever-reliable Nigel Stock as Doctor John H. Watson, and rounding out the regular supporting cast was Mary Holder as the long suffering Mrs. Hudson, Peter Madden as Scotland Yard's Inspector Lestrade and comedy actor Derek Francis as the intellectually brilliant older brother of Sherlock; Mycroft Holmes. Although somewhat lacking in dramatic impetus and slightly inclined towards the comedic, the series was nevertheless well received by both public and press alike, mainly thanks to Wilmer's intelligent portrayal of a notoriously difficult character, and, as was noted in the newspaper The Times, the actors "uncanny resemblance" to the sleuth in the original book illustrations by the great Sydney Paget. Ultimately however, a combination of ever decreasing rehearsal time and the ever-present wish to further extend his acting skills in other directions, prompted Wilmer to decline to renew his contract with the series. Questioned about his decision to quit and whether he had enjoy working on the series during a later interview following the announcement that Peter Cushing was to replace him in the role, the actor commented tersely: "...I would rather sweep Paddington Station for a living than go through the experience again. He had my sympathies!" Nevertheless, Cushing starred in 16 further episodes in the 1968 series, which included all the original stories (with Stock continuing in the role of the good doctor) from 'A Study in Scarlet' to the two-part 'Hound of the Baskervilles.' The series was re-titled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)
Whilst Dad's Army followed the exploits of the men who were unable to fight for king and country as active servicemen during the Second World War, it didn't speculate on what happened to the men that did go away to fight, and specifically what happened to them once they returned. Shine on Harvey Moon did. After being demobbed from his post as a stores clerk for the RAF stationed in Bombay, former professional footballer Corporal Harvey Moon returned home to the east London district of Hackney only to discover that his family friends and neighbours had assumed him 'missing in action'. Accordingly his wife, Rita, had mourned his passing by accommodating as many American GI's as possible, whilst his 17-year old daughter had become romantically involved with his best friend, Lou Lewis. His youngest child, Stanley, had become a street-wise kid with a street-wise mouth and as if Harvey didn't have enough to contend with his house had also been flattened in a bombing raid. And so, through the eyes of Harvey Moon writers Maurice Gran and Laurence Mark's were able to illustrate how post war Britons went about reassembling their shattered lives amid rationing and rebuilding whilst reflecting accurately the social attitudes of the day-not only towards family life, sex and marriage but British life in general. Although written as a comedy, the series benefited greatly from being shot without the intrusive laughter track of a studio (real or otherwise) audience. So successful was it that following it's initial 30-minute run of episodes it returned for a second season extended to a full hour and continued through seasons 3 and 4 following Harvey up to 1948. During that time Harvey had rebuilt his life, dated his son's school headmistress and been elected a Labour councillor. Unfortunately there were still setbacks-his new home was destroyed by an unexploded wartime bomb and although Harvey and Rita were eventually reunited, the relationship was a shaky one.
Ten years after the last episode, Shine on Harvey Moon was revived for one more series of six 30-minute episodes and thankfully the writers had lost none of their edge in their depiction of changing British attitudes in the 1950's. The post war blues not yet been replaced by the optimistic outlook of the coming decade, as the story rejoined Harvey (in 1953) having again split from Rita and now living at home with his mother, Nan, whose objections to the influx of coloured immigrants to the country was compounded by Harvey's decision to give room and board to his Jamaican friend, Noah. Harvey's son had grown up and been conscripted into the RAF and his daughter was set to marry Lou. More than just a comedy series, Shine on Harvey Moon was also an entertaining historical record of changing attitudes and changing lifestyles in a drastically changed world. Taking the approach that a good idea can never be exploited too much and having used a spin on a famous song title ('Shine on Harvest Moon'), writers Gran and Mark's returned to another song title for yet another wartime series, Goodnight Sweetheart (which was also the title of a 'Harvey Moon' episode) in which an unsuspecting television engineer in the 1980's discovers a 'time corridor' to the war torn East End of London. However, and far more successfully, whilst working on Shine on Harvey Moon the writers picked up on the special chemistry that existed between two of it's stars; childhood friends Linda Robson and Pauline Quirk, and as a result wrote a series specifically for them-Birds of a Feather.
After suffering a nervous breakdown, computer expert Eddie Shoestring is offered, as part of his therapy, the chance to help out a local Bristol-based radio station, Radio West, with an investigation. When this proves successful Shoestring is egged on by the station's receptionist, Sonia, to become a private investigator. He is given a radio show by the station's owner, Don Satchley (Michael Medwin) and invites listeners to phone in with their problems, thereby becoming, not so much a private eye - but a 'private ear.' This quirky detective series was developed and produced by Robert Banks Stewart in collaboration with Richard Harris, former script editor on another private eye series, Hazell. Trevor Eve had enjoyed a succesful stage run as Paul McCartney in the West End production of Willy Russell's John, Paul, George, Ringo...and Bert but was unknown to television viewers to this point. He became an overnight hit and the series was a huge ratings success. Viewers loved Shoestring's quirkiness as he pursued criminals whilst dealing with his own inner demons. Worried about being typecast, Eve only did two series. Stewart devised Bergerac as a replacement. Radio West didn't die, though. A real-life broadcaster bought up the name in order to serve the Bristol area.
When actress Georgia Brown complained to the BBC about the lack of meaningful roles for women in television drama their response was to tell her to go and find a series she would like to be in. Along with script editor Midge Mackenzie she discussed the possibility of doing a drama series based on the true story of the women's suffragette movement at the turn of the century. Reflecting the determination that would be illustrated by the women in the drama series, Brown then cornered high-profile producer Verity Lambert at an awards ceremony and together the trio of Brown, Mackenzie and Lambert were given the green light by BBC bosses and Shoulder to Shoulder, the first realistic and non-condescending drama series to portray the movement aimed at winning the right to vote for women in Britain, was born. However, according to Brown, even some 60 years after the suffragette's were successful, there were still prejudices to overcome. Ideally, Brown and Mackenzie would have preferred the series to be written by women. But when they failed to secure anyone suitable, it was male writers they had to turn to. Each script was totally scrutinised and out went many popular held misconceptions, innuendos and untruths that Brown referred to as 'the male point of view'.
What was left was a powerful drama that depicted the intolerance and hardship that the women had to endure to make themselves heard above a prejudiced society. Harrowing scenes of brutality by the powers that be were starkly portrayed -such as Lady Constance Lytton being held down by prison warders as she is force fed by doctors shoving a tube down her throat to pump food into her. Women being beaten by the police, arrested en masse and publicly ridiculed led their originally peaceful protestations to take on new tactics as they took to smashing windows, defacing a nude Venus in the National Gallery and -in the case of Emily Wilding Davison, making the ultimate sacrifice by flinging herself in front of the King's horse at Epsom racetrack and dying from her injuries. But the series also managed to cut a fine balance by also showing the private lives and the petty prejudices of the women involved, whilst acknowledging the brilliant speeches made and the unfailing courage that these women had. As Midge Mackenzie told 'TV Week,' "They were very gutsy ladies who were treated with enormous brutality and who have been blatantly ignored by historians. I find it hard to understand why I wasn't taught about this at school. The issues of the vote united women in a way that no issue had ever done before and is likely to again."
The key players in the true-life (and televisual) drama are:
Emmeline Pankhurst, who forms the Women's Social and Political Union, the driving power behind the women's movement. Portrayed by Sian Phillips she is shown as a sensitive, caring, charismatic woman who was also responsible for an increasing militancy in the campaign, prompted by an occasion in 1905 when her daughter:
Christabel (Patricia Quinn), was ejected from a Liberal meeting in Manchester and then arrested and imprisoned for assaulting the police because she had dared ask the meeting about votes for women. Christabel, a trained lawyer eventually had to help the fight from exile in Paris.
Sylvia Pankhurst (Angela Down), the middle daughter, who doesn't feel as though working women should have any part in their movement. She organises the women of London's East End as a way of leading them out of poverty.
Annie Kenney (Georgia Brown), a mill worker who joins the cause and eventually becomes a dynamic speaker for the movement.
Shoulder to Shoulder was shown on BBCTV in 1974, and also had an impressive supporting male cast including Michael Gough as Emmeline's husband, Dr Richard Pankhurst, Fulton MacKay as Keir Hardy, Robert Hardy as Asquith and an early role for Bob Hoskins as Jack Dunn. Sadly neglected by most television historians, books and websites, Shoulder to Shoulder was a stirring piece of British televisual drama that portrayed one of the most important movements in the history of civil rights, and is therefore more than deserving of its place in Television Heaven.
The original Siege of Sydney Street was a moment of high drama which captured the imagination of the whole of England before the First World War. A notorious gunfight in London's East End on 2 January 1911 which was preceded by the Houndsditch Murders and ended with the deaths of two members of a supposedly politically motivated gang of burglars supposedly led by Peter Piatkow, a.k.a. "Peter the Painter", and sparked a major political row over the involvement of the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill. This Comedy Playhouse presentation has nothing whatsoever to do with any of the above! It doesn't even take place in a Sydney Street but in a street which boasts the dubious distinction of including among its residents one Sydney Lord (Roy Kinnear), a born leader of men and moulder of opinion. His source of livelihood is obscure but his mission in life is clear enough. It is to oppose Bureaucrattical Dictatorship (Sydney's spelling). Whenever authority seems to be lapsing into tyranny (and that is most of the time in Sydney's view) it can reckon on finding a flat-capped, fag-drooping, duffle-coated, bicycle-clipped, and all-knowing figure standing four square (or, to be more precise, roughly globular) in it's path: Sydney-who else? Also starring in this one-off presentation is Gordon Rollings (pictured with Roy Kinnear) and Arthur Mullard. The script is by Richard Harris and Dennis Spooner. The 30-minute episode did not lead to any further outings for Sydney but 28-year old Wigan born Kinnear did appear in his first full-series sitcom later the same year as Stanley Blake in A World of His Own.
One of the BBC's most popular modern dramas regularly drawing audiences of over 6 million in the UK, Silent Witness was created by Nigel McCrery, a former murder squad detective in Nottingham. Debuting in 1996 the series starred Amanda Burton as Dr (later Prof.) Sam Ryan, a Belfast born forensic pathologist working in Cambridge who has to investigate the most unpleasant of cases in her efforts to uncover the truth behind murders, instances of child abuse and cases of arson to name but a few. The inspiration for the character was true-life Prof. Helen Witwell, a forensic pathologist based in Sheffield, whom McCrery had known while serving as a police officer. The series was not for the faint at heart and regularly showed scenes with bloated, decaying bodies and dissected organs. In later episodes Ryan moved out of Cambridge to take up a position at the University of London. Whilst dealing with matters of the criminal kind Ryan also had her own demons to deal with such as the murder of her own father (an RUC officer killed by terrorists), a mother suffering from Alzheimer's, a resentful sister and a tearaway nephew. Ryan's character departed in the eighth series in 2004 to be replaced by Nikki Alexander (Amelia Fox), a forensic anthropologist (specialising in prehistoric deaths) who had to learn the ropes in an active mortuary. The series was parodied by British comedic duo French and Saunders as Witless Silence. The show was broadcast in the USA on BBC America.
Bright, bitingly satirical, subtly subversive, yet warm, welcoming and at times genuinely touching in its anarchic humanity, The Simpsons is the arrestingly primary coloured heir to the animated television sitcom dynasty founded by that modern stone age family, The Flintstones. Originally beginning life as a regular short segment of the Tracy Ullman Show, cartoonist Matt Groening's creations quickly gained their own series on US TV's Fox network, and almost immediately transformed the pen and ink inhabitants of the mythical town of Springfield into a genuinely worldwide phenomenon. Although almost wilfully American in its humorous terms of reference, the core of the series conquest of the rest of the television watching world lies in its treatment of its central characters. In the Simpson family we see a warped, hysterically insightful reflection of our own family eccentricities, feuds, prejudices and shortcomings writ almost operatically large. Thanks to a potent combination of simple character design, shape, brilliantly observed, multi-level scripting and perfectly judged vocal performances from a superb group of acting talent, the show has bridged the notorious 'generation gap' to secure an almost universal appeal which the majority of its rivals can only dream of. The Simpsons clan consists of bonehead nuclear power plant worker Homer, his wife Marge (possessor of an enormous blue beehive hairstyle), spiky haired son Bart (an anagram of brat), saxophone-playing daughter Lisa, and pacifier sucking baby Maggie (who's first words were spoken by no less than Elizabeth Taylor).
The Simpsons became a hit in Britain after the series was bought by one of the new satellite stations, the BBC having already cut the segments from the Tracey Ullman Show because they didn't think they were funny. Heavily criticised in some quarters (most memorably perhaps by ex US President George Bush), for the seemingly dysfunctional nature of its lead family, ultimately, the show rises above such detractions by the underlying warmth and love which forms the real bedrock of the Simpson family relationship. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, despite the arguments, trials, tribulations and heartaches, which confront them on a daily basis, quite simply ARE a family. More than the myriad sight gags, more than the plethora of major name star guest voices, more than the almost constant barrage of finely honed verbal humour, 'family' is the true secret of The Simpsons success.
Oh, that and Donuts, of course.
(Review: Stephen R. Hulse)
THE SINGING DETECTIVE (1986)
A mystery writer with a chronic skin and joint disease falls into a fantasy world. Click Here for review
Children's film made in 1957 by East German studio DEFA (the original title is Das singende, klingende Baumchen). To win the love of a beautiful but conceited princess, the prince sets out to search for the Singing Ringing Tree which she deeply craves. He finds it in an enchanted garden which is ruled by an evil dwarf. The dwarf gives him the tree, subject to one condition - the prince must win the princess' love before nightfall. If he should fail, he will be transformed into a bear... and this comes to pass. By a ruse, the bear carries off the unfeeling princess to the enchanted garden where, stripped of her beauty and power, she slowly learns compassion. She wins the affection of the animals, falls in love with the bear and, at last, her beauty is restored. The dwarf sees his plans thwarted and entices the princess out of the magic kingdom. But she has seen through his evil game. Not flinching from hardship and danger, she returns to the enchanted garden and frees her prince. The film was broadcast in the UK in 1964, cut into three parts to create a mini-series, as part of Tales from Europe. An English-language voice-over track was used rather than a dubbed one. The cast included Christel Bodenstein as the Princess, Eckart Dux who played the Prince/bear, Charles Hans Vogt as the King and Richard Kruger as the dwarf. Released as a special-edition DVD in the UK in December 2011 by Network featuring the original German version with English subtitles together with the English narrated version and prepared using remastered transfers. The release also includes The Tinderbox, based on a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. The BBC, reviewing the series some years later before reshowing it for the umpteenth time, noted: "For those who know this film, the programme will bring back the thrill of life behind the sofa, when characters talking in strange languages burrowed into the memory. For those who don't know the film, the programme provides an essential guide to a phenomenon that is liable to intrude suddenly into the minds and behaviour of thousands of those you may think you know well..." A Radio Times readers' poll in 2004 voted this programme the 20th spookiest TV show ever.
Another offering from ITC's series of historical swashbucklers. Terence Morgan starred as Queen Elizabeth's pirate captain of the flagship The Golden Hind, as he plundered his way across the Atlantic reigning havoc on the Spanish. One of two ships used in the filming of the television series was a former motor fishing vessel, which had already seen active service during World War II as a harbour launch. She was taken to Falmouth, her hull stripped, and after suitable reconstruction, emerged as The Golden Hind. Lewisham born Terence Morgan had a tenuous link with seafaring even before turning to acting as a living as he first started out as a clerk for Lloyds of London, a firm of insurance brokers that specialised in marine insurance. However, after showing an interest in acting he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, appeared in rep for a while and then joined the Army. After two years service he was invalided out and finally made his West End debut where he was talent spotted by Laurence Olivier. Morgan was then chosen by Olivier to star in one of his own productions (The Skin Of Our Teeth). The climax of that film called for a great deal of swordsmanship but Morgan had never handled a sword. Morgan was tutored in this by Denis Loraine, an authority on sword handling who was also appearing in the film.
Morgan immediately turned down a number of lucrative big-screen offers to go on a tour of Australia and New Zealand with the Oliviers and the Old Vic Company. Finally, he signed a contract with the Rank Organisation and made twenty-one films for them. Drake had already been the subject of a big screen movie entitled Drake of England which starred Matheson Lang in the lead role and in fact the actor had caused a great deal of consternation when filming it as he accidentally dropped Drake's own sword, lent by the Admiralty, into the studio tank during a close-up sequence. Although accurate in period detail, a great deal of poetic licence was taken with Drake's adventures for dramatic effect, and Drake was quite often called on to demonstrate his mastery of the sword. Jean Kent played the Virgin Queen and a host of future stars made their TV debuts, amongst them were Michael Crawford as the good admiral's brother, John Drake, and the villain of the piece, the swarthy Spaniard Mendoza, was played by Roger Delgado, who would later star as the first incarnation of Doctor Who's nemesis, The Master. Guest stars included David McCallum, Nanette Newman and Warren Mitchell. Shown in the US in 1962 as The Adventures of Sir Francis Drake.
SIX DATES WITH BARKER (1970)
Series of six self-contained sitcoms starring Ronnie Barker. Click Here for review
When astronaut Steve Austin (Lee Majors) is involved in a near fatal crash during a test flight, he is rebuilt by cybernetics scientist Rudy Wells. Now equipped with two bionic legs that allow him to run at speeds of up to 60m.p.h. -given a bionic arm to give him extra strength, and a bionic eye to see greater distances (at a cost of six million dollars), Austin is put to work as a sort of secret agent working under the command of Oscar Goldman's (Richard Anderson) Office of Strategic Studies. The storylines themselves were hardly original usually involving the theft of secret documents, or some plot against the national security of the US, and special effects were fairly limited with slow-motion being used for almost every 'bionic' action from tearing open a cast iron door to running at speed. However, this didn't stop the series from being a runaway success on both sides of the Atlantic and a spin-off series The Bionic Woman starring Lindsay Wagner was created in 1976, enjoying equal fortunes. There was a mini-revival in the late eighties when a number of TV Movies were made. The original story was based on a novel, Cyborg by Martin Caidin and developed for TV by Harve Bennett.
Award winning BBC costume drama of the highest quality starring Keith Michell as the infamous Tudor King who bought about the dissolution of the monasteries and whose Act of Supremacy in 1534 gave his country the anomaly, still surviving today, of a monarch who is head of a church. A fine supporting cast in what was essentially a sequence of six self-contained plays, one for each wife. From parts one to six we saw Henry growing in age from a slim 17 year old to an obese 56 year old, as he married six different women with the sole purpose that one of them would present him with a male heir to ascend to the throne after his death. Historically accurate, the series contained the treacherous double dealings, whispered conspiracies and bloody murders that were prevalent at that time in English history, and set new audience records when it was shown on its initial run on BBC2.
The series was probably the first to change the image of Henry that had been etched on the public consciousness in 1933 by the formidable Charles Laughton portrayal in the big screen biopic The Private Life of Henry VIII in which the monarch was shown for the most part as gluttonous, roaring and ranting. The movie was the first British picture to win an Oscar so the image was firmly set on both sides of the Atlantic. However, this BBC production dispelled many of the myths and showed Henry as an excellent scholar who spoke four languages other than his native tongue (Latin, French, Italian and Greek), a student of mathematics and astronomy, a gifted musician and a superb athlete. He was, most likely England's first civilised king.
To make the series look as genuine as possible costume designer John Bloomfield spent three months researching at the National Portrait Gallery, Windsor Castle and numerous libraries. The costumes were achieved by using cheap materials and working them with paints, resins and using screen-printing methods before drawing on them with fibre tip pens. On screen they looked both rich and authentic. When it came to playing Henry, Keith Michell had to age over the six episodes from young athlete to a fat, disillusioned and lonely monarch who would eventually die at the age of 56. The series mirrored the movie's success in the United States by picking up a well-deserved Emmy Award for Kieth Michell for Outstanding Continued Performance in a Leading Dramatic Series and a feature film followed in 1972 with Michell in the lead role once again. Realising what a rich source of drama they had tapped into the BBC was not slow to cash in on its popularity, following the series with a direct sequel, Elizabeth R.
This was the first ever serial shown on Independent Television in the UK, and Britain's first daily TV Soap. Sixpenny Corner started on ITV's second day of broadcast. It was about the lives of two ordinary young newlyweds, Bill and Sally Norton (Howard Pays and Patricia Dainton) - he trying to make a success of a small garage business while she ran the home. All this took place at Sixpenny Corner in the rural town on Springwood. Their friends and relations helped-and hindered-them from time to time. Notable characters in the series included Sally's parents, Mr & Mrs Sharpe (played by Walter Horsbrugh and Betty Bowden), her sister, Yvonne (Shirley Mitchell), and Bill's brothers, Stan and Tom (Robert Desmond and Bernard Fox). Each episode ran for 15 minutes. The series ran until 1956. The series creators were Jonquil Antony and Hazel Adair - Adair went on to co-create (with Peter Ling) both Compact for the BBC and Crossroads for ITV. Howard Pays gave up acting in 1968 to become a talent agent, a career that proved to be hugely successful for him. Patricia Dainton, who was born in Hamilton, Scotland, gave up acting in 1963. Two of the actors in the series found television fame waiting for them in the USA. Shirley Mitchell (who was born in Toledo, Ohio) starred as Kitty Deveraux in Bachelor Father (1958-59) before playing running roles in The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction. In 2006 she was heard in a video game of Desperate Housewives! Bernard Fox portrayed the warlock physician Dr. Bombay on Bewitched and the inept British Colonel Crittenden on Hogan's Heroes. He also appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.