Crew of a spaceship keep the universe safe. Click Here for review
1960s comedy that was heavily influenced by the classic Will Hay comedy Where's That Fire? that had been shot twenty-five years earlier at the same Elstree studio. The setting was the remote English village of Cropper's End (population: 70) and concerned the misadventures of its local fire service who had to work with vintage fire-fighting equipment, assuming that they arrived to the scene of the fire on time on their 60-year old engine, Bessie. Most of the time there was very little fire fighting to do (except on the one occasion when the fire station caught alight) and they contented themselves by passing time at the local Cropper's Arms. Alfred Marks starred as Fire Chief Charlie and British comedy stalwarts Cardew Robinson, Joe Baker and Sydney Bromley (who bore a striking resemblance to Moore Marriott in the original Hay movie) aided and abetted alongside Ronnie Brody, Clive Elliott, John Arnatt, Norman Chappell and Colin Douglas. The writers included Fred Robinson (who had cut his scripwriting teeth on The Larkins) and producer Alan Tarrant went on to work, it seems, on just about every ITV sitcom on the 1960s. The series was popular enough to have two runs from August to October 1964 and January to February 1965, going out at peak time on Saturday nights.
Based on Sir Winston Churchill's biography of his distinguished ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, this period piece, written and produced by former BBC Head of Serials, Donald Wilson, was a lavish costume drama full of political intrigue, manipulating women and sexual promiscuity. The period in question was the 17th century, during the Restoration (the return of the monarch, Charles ll, to Britain and his throne), a time renowned for its lack of moral virtue and licentiousness. John Churchill's sister was the mistress of the king's brother (the future James ll), and Churchill himself became the lover of Charles' most influential mistress, Lady Castlemaine. So it's not surprising that by the end of the first episode Churchill has bedded Princess Anne's 16-year old lady-in-waiting, Sarah Jennings (he was 26-years old). But Sarah is no fair maiden and for one so young is already a vain, superior and argumentative soul with her own agenda. The couple are soon married and when he goes off on a successful military campaign she stays at home touting his victories. When he returns he is rewarded by Anne, now Queen of England, with a Dukedom, an estate at Woodstock and £100,000 of public money to build a palace there (Blenheim Palace).
But when Marlborough's position in London is undermined by a costly battle (in terms of human life) at Malplaquet, the Queen and Sarah fall out over politics and she is soon replaced as the monarch's favourite by Abigail Hill, one of Sarah's poorer relations and a spy at court for Churchill's enemies. Eventually Marlborough is dismissed from all his offices and forced to live abroad. The series ends with the enthronement of George l, who reinstates the pair and invites them to live the rest of their days in England. John Neville was superb in the role of John Churchill and Susan Hampshire, already a household name after her starring role in The Forsyte Saga (also by Donald Wilson), portrayed Sarah as a woman with a fiery temper who was as domineering as she was politically brilliant. The series was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and in the USA it has the distinction of being the first presentation in a series entitled Masterpiece Theatre, which showcased the best of British drama including Upstairs, Downstairs - I, Claudius and Elizabeth R. In fact the Americans were so impressed that they awarded Ms Hampshire her second (but not last) Emmy Award for Best Actress.
Sarah Danby, the newly elected independent member of Furness Borough Council, represents Albion Ward, a seat previously held by her late husband, a much-respected Yorkshire alderman. Furness is a mixture of older housing areas - cramped, badly built, but with well-knit coherence; and new estates, and Sarah is a righter of wrongs, a sort of ombudswoman, a tough talking, down to earth, yet good humoured and quick witted northerner. And in Sarah's job it pays to keep your wits about you. Sarah, played by Thora Hird, was portrayed as a crusading local councillor who was determined to make a difference to her local community whilst tackling the bureaucracy of both local and central government. Although writer Alan Plater, who had been asked specifically to write a drama series for Thora, was unsure at first whether a gritty northern councillor in a gritty northern town would suit her because she had only just finished the sitcom Meet The Wife, and was, in Plater's opinion, perceived by the public as solely a comedy actress.
But in fact she couldn't have been more perfect for the part. Thora was an extremely well established and much admired character actress who was indeed best regarded for her comedic roles at that stage of her career. Yet the practical and down-to-earth Lancastrian, was equally adept at turning her hand to serious dramatic roles and it was her compelling performance in The First Lady that immediately enabled audiences to empathise with her tough talking no-nonsense character, and laid the seeds for some memorable performances in single dramas such as Alan Bennett's celebrated Talking Heads monologues and the heart rendering Lost For Words, all of which won her deserved BAFTA awards.
Interviewed in the May 4-10 1968 edition of Radio Times, Thora Hird spoke about the appeal of her onscreen character, Sarah Danby, and the injustices she fought. "She's all woman, Sarah. She feels things. She reacts to things just like I do. You see, I watch television, and I see things, and I say to my husband Jimmy, 'something should be done about that.' Now, that's just what Sarah would do. The only difference is, she can do something about it, and I usually can't. Mind you, being able to spotlight this sort of thing in the programme does help me get some of it off my chest." At that time the Labour Party had a very tough and outspoken woman MP in their government called Barbara Castle and she was to be the model for the character. In fact, Plater even went as far as suggesting that his character be a member of the same political party. But the BBC were worried about political bias and suggested that Plater's character, Sarah Danby, be an Independent candidate. "In dramatic terms I made an interesting discovery." Said Plater. "As an Independent, Sarah could believe anything she wanted to believe." Thora also discovered that the public would readily accept her in a dramatic role. "The only problem I had with The First Lady," she said, "was that some viewers really thought that I was a councillor and started writing to me to help sort out some of their local problems."
Heralding the start of a second series in 1969, producer Terence Dudley explored the appeal of Sarah Danby in a Radio Times article that observed: "Sarah's a remarkable woman. She's not particularly clever, nor is she sophisticated. She's frequently muddle-headed and often pig-headed. She's sentimental and some of her arguments are ridiculously unobjective, but she's honest; fiercely, burningly honest. And she's brave, indefatigable and tenacious. It's her courage, tirelessness and tenacity that make her a treasured friend - and a formidable foe. Sarah also has a rare humility. It's a virtue that drives her hotly to right injustices - yet, without contradiction, causes her to decline to sit on the Bench. "I don't think I could sit in judgement on other people". But that, on the other hand, doesn't stop her calling the local coroner "a stupid, sanctimonious prig!". We're reintroduced to Sarah at a crisis point in her private and public life, and it's typical of her that she's less concerned for herself than she is about her continued capacity to help other people. But it's this very attitude that, later in the series, causes her son bitterly to accuse her of living a "substitute life" which excludes her family. Substitute life or not, Sarah Danby returns to the screen to reassure us that, in a far from perfect world, all is far from lost: that we have faith, hope and charity going for us as well as Councillor Mrs Danby. But she'll be the first to say she doesn't win all the time - and "What a bore I would be if I did!". And if that's not reassuring, I don't know what is."
With Thora Hird in the lead role, the deep, inherent humanity which informed all of Alan Plater's writing found itself wedded to a consummate performer whose own essential mixture of no-nonsense Northern practicality and air of "everywoman" warmth was in perfect sync with the writer's social concerns that found expression through the central character. If Plater's scripts were the heart and mind of The First Lady, it was the redoubtable Ms Hird's finely judged and superlative performance which was its soul.
TRIVIA: Dennis Waterman, Peter Barkworth, Geoffrey Bayldon, Richard Hurndall, Bernard Hepton, Glynn Edwards, Glyn Owen and Jack Smethurst all made guest appearances in 'The First Lady'.
Ultimately the series ran for 2 years winning much critical acclaim on the way. Unfortunately most of the shows were wiped from the archives many years ago.
An example episode synopsis from the Radio Times edition April 18, 1968: "Furness Council Architects' Department wins a prize for design. The department is particularly proud of this ward and all rejoice. However, a sour note is struck when the leader of the estate Tenants' Association comes to see Sarah Danby and tells her that it would be sheer hypocrisy for the Council to accept the award. He cites the isolation of the estate, lack of community facilities, the intersection by a major road, and the misery of many of the residents. A perfect case for Councillor Sarah Danby to do some investigating of her own.
A one-off comedy show that reunited two of the regulars from That Was The Week That Was. But why The Five Foot Nine Show? Writer Dave King explained: 'It's simply a different size in entertainment. Originally it was The Four Foot Three Show, but the BBC-tv planners thought this would be rather low stuff for a family audience. We then tried out for size The Six Foot Six Show but this felt likely to be over the heads of many viewers. So we compromised on five foot nine. Although if it overruns it could well end up as The Six Foot Show.' Producer Barry Lupino tried to give readers of the Radio Times a little more useful information about the show - but failed quite miserably. (The show is) rectangular-a convenient shape for the talents of Lance Percival, Roy Kinnear and Tsai Chin. We've also put in a chit for six dancers, a singing Eskimo, a singing tadpole, and pipes and drums. If we find the budget can stand it, we may even have musicians to play them.' Could it be described as a new type of show? In this Lupino was quite candid. 'No!' He said. 'It's an old-style show but we're giving it a lick of paint and freshening it up a bit. Actually, the whole thing has been written to fit some old scenery we found lying around.' What, then, is it all about? 'About five foot nine.' Replied Lupino. 'Give or take an inch.' (Based on original TV Times articles)
From 1963 to 1966 The Five O'Clock Club met every Tuesday and Friday. The show, which was introduced by Muriel Young and Howard Williams, was the new title for what had been previously known as Small Time, Lucky Dip (1958) and Tuesday Rendezvous (1961), as ATV attempted to repeat the BBC's consistent success with children's shows by coming up with a cross between Blue Peter and Crackerjack. The show featured regular items such as "Happy Cooking" with Fanny and Johnny Craddock, Graham Dangerfield talked about pets, Jimmy Handley (father of future Magpie presenter Jenny) made models and Bert Weedon gave guitar lessons. The first indication of the show's massive popularity came when Weedon invited anyone wanting help to play the guitar to 'drop me a line." Three days later sackloads of mail arrived and Associated Rediffusion had to have thousands of special leaflets printed to post out to thousands of children.
Former skiffle group member Wally Whyton replaced Howard Williams and for an entire generation of children the show entered its most fondly remembered era. But the undoubted stars of the show were a pair of glove puppets called Ollie Beak and Fred Barker, the first television glove puppets with attitude. The show's original glove puppet, Pussycat Willum, was unceremoniously cast aside as the pair became so popular that in 1965 the show was re-titled Ollie and Fred's Five O'Clock Club. However, not before one woman viewer rang up to complain that the pair had contrived to use foul language on the live broadcast, after listening to Jon Pertwee sing a folk song. As the song finished Ollie said to Fred how nice it was to hear a song from an 'old folker'. 'Auntie' Muriel Young moved north in the late 1960's to become head of children's programmes for Granada television and also established several favourite pop shows for leading artists of the day such as The Bay City Rollers and Marc Bolan. Young had begun her career as a continuity announcer for Associated-Rediffusion and began her TV career on 22 September 1955, the opening night of commercial television. She retired in 1986 and passed away in 2001 aged 77.
THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA (1981)
Drama among the coffee plantations in Africa in 1913. Click Here for review
Originally made in France in 1967 as Le Chevalier Tempete the series of four epic 75-minute episodes were edited into 12 22-minute episodes for its dubbed UK broadcast in 1969 and shown as part of BBC's children's programming. The action is set in 17th century France, during the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628-1631) between France and Spain and its allies including the Duchy of Savoy, and involves a besieged French garrison who are defending a Castle in the city of Casal, capital of Montferrat, on the border between France and Spain. The Spanish hear of a possible truce between the opposing countries but some of the Spanish elite do not want peace until the fort of Casal is taken. Hence they begin a bombardment of the battlements to prevent a truce being signed. The heroes of the piece are a dashing French spy Francois de Chevalier (Robert Etcheverry) and his servant Guillot (Jacques Balutin). Francois infiltrates the Spanish line causing chaos among their troops and returns to the French expecting to be greeted in triumph only to find himself facing a court martial for disobeying orders. Sentenced to death Francois and Guillot escape and set off to complete the mission they started. The UK broadcast was spoiled by the fact that the final episode suffered from loss of picture quality due to faulty film stock leading to several hundred complaints to the BBC who repeated the final few minutes on Ask Aspel. However, the series was often repeated throughout the 1970s. In 1988, the series was re-dubbed by Andrew O'Connor, Kate Copstick, Bernadette Nolan and Terry Randall to produce a spoof version, which was broadcast on the children's Saturday morning show On the Waterfront. The scripts for the new comic soundtrack were written by Russell T. Davies before he went on to write Dark Season Queer As Folk and Doctor Who. The theme song was "Fight" by The Musketeers (written by Alex Masters), which was issued on a Philips single in 1969.
THE FLAXTON BOYS (1969)
Boys inherit a run down property after their soldier father is reported missing in action. Click Here for review
Fresh from a third-rate career in the music halls, forty-year-old Arnie Cole (Bob Hoskins) has turned movie pioneer, showing single-reel films in makeshift cinemas during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Arnie's true ambition is to produce films of his own; but he is barely able to keep his creditors at bay as the head of a travelling company that screens movies in any available hall or store. The troupe includes Llewellyn (Fraser Cains), his girlfriend Letty (Sherrie Hewson) and his piano player Violet (Sheri Shepstone). Arnie's only chance at survival is to explore every possible source of financing, no matter whom he has to con. Clive (Andrew de-la-Tour), son of a department store owner, is a prime candidate. That is, until Arnie is introduced to Maud (Frances de-la-Tour), Clive's plain and snobbish sister, who takes one look at the hapless showman and declares, "He'll have the fillings from your teeth!" However, fate is about to deal Arnie an unexpected hand: The unmarried Maud has had the misfortune to get herself pregnant, and the would-be father has taken flight. So, in return for a promise of marriage and a father for her baby, Maud bankrolls Arnie's movie projects. This light-hearted, captivating series was created and written by sitcom veteran Roy Clarke (Keeping Up Appearances, Last of the Summer Wine) and won great critical acclaim in 1980 as well as a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Limited Series in 1982.
Epic period drama made by Scottish Television and based on D.K. Broster's 1925 novel centred round fictional events at the time of the non-fictional Jacobite Rebellion of 1746 and leading up to the battle of Culloden. Angus MacMartin (Finlay Currie) was the blind soothsayer who foresaw the flight of the heron, which was meant to herald the coming together of a young highland chieftain and an English officer. His prophecy is fulfilled by Ewen Cameron (Ian McCulloch) and Captain Keith Windham (Jon Laurimore), who-although on opposing sides, come to know and respect each other. However, history is set on course for one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on British soil, and one that would tear apart the clan system in Scotland forever. The production was Scottish Television's most expensive at that time for a children's drama and their investment amounted to around 60,000 pounds. Much of this was recouped by repeating the series on the same night but in a late-night slot for adults illustrating the strength of children's drama in the 1960s. Extra credence was given to the series by filming all the location scenes right on the spot where the actual events had taken place some 200 years before. The series was adapted for television by Moultrie R. Kelsall. Unfortunately, Finlay Currie passed away shortly after the series was made. Among the supporting cast were Richard Wilson and Tom Conti.
Long before The Simpsons took American prime time by storm, a slightly less dysfunctional cartoon family blazed the trial for generation crossing animated antics. Inspired by the classic Jackie Gleeson hit, The Honeymooners, in 1960 academy award winning animators of Tom and Jerry, William Hannah and Joseph Barbera created a satirical animated series originally to be called 'The Flagstones.' The Flagstones underwent a name change to The Flintstones, and the legend of Bedrock County and its immortal stone-aged inhabitants was born. Through the gruff, grumpy, but ultimately likeable character of Fred Flintstone, along with his long suffering wife Wilma and best friends Barney and Betty Rubble, the viewers were introduced to a Stone Age which bore startling similarities to their own sophisticated 60's lifestyles. Although the animation was far removed from the golden days of Hollywood theatrical quality, it nevertheless had a charm and inventiveness which was to help cement the foundations for the series ultimate success. Not that the success came immediately. Initially at least the series received much critical hostility as illustrated by the New York Times branding it an 'inked disaster.' However, the series by its second season fared much better with the viewers and was ultimately to prove its critics wrong by being nominated, and winning, a coveted Golden Globe award.
Change was a key to the show's success during its six year run. In 1963 Wilma finally gave birth to a daughter named Pebbles. (A first for television animation at the time). Later, the core cast was expanded further by the Rubble's adoption of Bam Bam, a foundling with extraordinary strength. Although the original series ended in 1966 the format has been revived by the Hannah/Barbera studio numerous times since in varying permutations but without the sharply satirical edge which had made it an adult favourite, and while a major live action movie version starring John Goodman as Fred may have been an enjoyable romp for the kids, it wasn't a patch on the original. The Flintstones deserves its classic status on the merit of it's skilful blend of original writing and pleasingly rounded animated characters, for six years American prime time television was, indeed, a 'Yabba, Dabba, Doo' time.
The Flinstones Theme Tune
"Flintstones... Meet the Flintstones,
They're a modern stoneage family.
From the town of Bedrock,
They're a page right out of history.
Let's ride with the family down the street.
Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet.
When you're with the Flintstones,
Have a yabba dabba doo time,
A dabba doo time,
We'll have a gay old time."
(Review: Stephen R. Hulse)
Based on the 1963 movie of the same name (which starred Chuck Branded / The Rifleman Connors and Luke Halpin), Flipper was a clever dolphin who was always on hand (or fin) to help out Coral Key Park residents Sandy (Halpin) and Bud (Tommy Norden) and their father, Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly), who was Chief Ranger at the Florida marine reserve. Veteran Hollywood Western star Andy Devine appeared in earlier episodes as old salty sea-dog Hap Gorman, but was eventually replaced by Scandinavian Oceanographer Ulla Norstrand (Ulla Stromstedt). The Dolphin (real name Suzy), who helped Sandy and Bud through a series of adventures and out of a number of dangerous situations, was trained by Ricou Browning who had previously appeared under heavy make-up in the 1954 horror movie The Creature From The Black Lagoon.
The first drama series to be filmed in colour by Granada Television (two years before ITV's regular colour service began), The Flower Of Gloster was about four youngsters who crew a narrow-boat from North Wales to London and their adventures on Britain's inland waterways. In fact, the series was largely experimental in more ways than one, the tales being a mixture of plotted storylines, natural history and improvisation. The lead characters played themselves (all the character first names were the names of the actors) and any chance to take in a place of historical interest on their journey (Woburn Abbey, Stoeke Bruene Museum - which portrays the heritage of 200 years of inland waterways) was taken up by the series producer Bill Grundy. This all mixed in rather oddly with the fictional tales of haunted forests and bovver boys. The plot involved Richard Doherty (Richard O'Callaghan), eldest son of Jim (Jim Doherty), a boatyard owner from Wales who is unable to deliver a new barge to London when he breaks his leg in an accident. So Richard takes the helm and is accompanied by his sister Elizabeth (Elizabeth Doherty) and they are soon joined by their young brother Mike (Mike Doherty) and their friend Annette (Annette Roberston), and for 13 weeks they traverse the waterways of west England passing towns, cities and villages. Chris McMaster, who the following year would bring a different type of children's action/adventure series to the screen when he devised Freewheelers, wrote the series. The name of the boat and series title was inspired by Ernest Temple Thurston's evocative account of a springtime journey by barge around the canals of Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, 'The Flower of Gloster' first published in 1911. Producer Bill Grundy went on to television notoriety when he interviewed the Sex Pistols on live television, inadvertently kicking off the whole punk rock era, and ending his own TV career.
Of all the fantasy situation comedies that aired in the 1960's, The Flying Nun was one for the books. A 90 pound Catholic nun who takes flight when the wind blows up her habit? Even My Mother The Car was only slightly less ridiculous. But for three seasons, a loyal audience tuned in every week to watch young actress Sally Field go airborne; her eagerness and freshness, which served her well in 'Gidget', made this slight comedy rather watchable. Based on the novel "The Fifteenth Pelican" by author Tere Rios, The Flying Nun was the story of Sister Bertrille (the former Elsie Ethington), an American novice nun assigned to the Convent San Tanco near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her energy and grit to help solve the cash-strapped convent's problems endeared her to some. Sister Bertrille's major critic was her "boss", the stern Mother Superior The explanation for Sister Bertrille's flights of fancy was somewhat convoluted: "when lift plus thrust is greater than load plus drag, any object can fly". Translation: The young sister's light weight, the strong Puerto Rico winds, and her starched headdress and clothing allowed her to circle over the country like a bird. Her flying, combined with her tendency to get into unusual situations, formed the basis for the plots. The show's core audience was 12 to 24-year-old girls (and a few of their brothers, no doubt) who helped make the show a hit for the ABC network. As a result, Flying Nun merchandise was made available, everything from lunch pails to paper dolls. Field also recorded several albums linked to the series, including a vocal version of the show's theme song "Who Needs Wings To Fly?" Even before The Flying Nun went off the air on September 18th, 1970, some religious orders actually commended the series for "humanizing" the work of Catholic nuns.
In later years, Field called the Flying Nun role a "good experience" (in part because she learned about acting from co-star Madeline Sherwood). But she was not happy about wearing a heavy nun's outfit every day, and not a happy camper about the slight scripts. During the show's run, Field married and became pregnant; her "condition" had to be hidden for a time until she gave birth. Three years later, Sally Field starred in what would be her last regular television series for nearly three decades. The Girl With Something Extra, which also came from the Screen Gems factory, was the story of housewife and newlywed Sally Burton, who had extra-sensory perception and could read minds--including the mind of her new hubby John. A few years later, with roles in the TV movie Sybil and such films as Norma Rae and Places In The Heart, Field was able to carve a new and successful phase in her acting career. She occasionally did television (appearing as a guest in made-for-TV movies and miniseries, along with guest appearances in such series as Murphy Brown and ER), but Field wouldn't return to series television until 2002, when she played a Supreme Court justice on the short-lived legal drama The Bench. With accolades and awards for her movie and television work, there's no doubt Sally Field, the former Flying Nun, has earned her wings. (Review: Mike Spadoni)
City girl goes to live at her uncle's horse sanctuary. Click Here for review
Foo Foo was created for ABC Television in the UK by Halas & Batchelor, who had been producing films since 1940. John Halas and Joy Batchelor met in Paris in 1932 and moved to London just before the outbreak of the Second World War. They initially made a living illustrating posters, books and magazines and later found work with the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, which set them up in their film unit at Bush House, London. They founded Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Films and married shortly after. By 1950 the studio had produced over 100 films. In animation terms Foo Foo was simplicity itself. The character had a square body with a large round head and bulbous nose. Arms and legs were simple straight lines. The charm of the cartoon came from the characterisation. Foo Foo had a love interest called Mimi, but a rival for her affections in the shape of Gogo. The series proved enough of a hit to be sold for syndication to the USA becoming the first British animated series to be sold to America. The studio was sold to Tyne Tees Television in the early '70s, resulting in Halas and Batchelor making popular Saturday morning cartoons like The Jackson Five (1972) and The Osmonds (1973).
Long before television began, the BBC catered for children by broadcasting Children's Hour, a radio programme first heard in 1922 and soon to become a firm favourite with listeners. Presenters such as Uncle Caractacus (Cecil Lewis) in the 1920s and Uncle Mac (Derek McCulloch) from the 1930s onwards, and Aunties Kathleen (Kathleen Garscadden) and Elizabeth (May Jenkin) became household names for children and their parents throughout the country. Just a year after experimental BBC television began broadcasting to a few hundred homes in London, a ten-minute show called For The Children made its debut. First broadcast on Saturday 24 April 1937 with a performance by Zenora the Clown, the series continued until the BBC closed down for the duration of World War II. When broadcasting began again six years later For the Children was one of the formats the BBC revived. Now expanded to twenty minutes and shown on a Sunday (from 7 June 1946) one of the earliest programmes featured Paul Leyssac, author, lecturer and actor, who read stories by Hans Anderson; his Danish mother had apparently heard the stories told by Anderson himself. Among other items featured were Commander A. B. Campbell and his 'sea chest of treasures' and other features that would appeal to children including the Hogarth Puppet Circus, presented by Jan Bussell and Ann Hogarth, with Fred Woodward as Hank the Mule and Eric Cardi as a conjuror. An edition in August 1946 featured a musical story by Annette Mills (sister of actor John Mills) making her TV debut. She shared her five-minute slot with Muffin the Mule and thus was born one of children's televisions first and most enduring double-act. The stories were plotted by Hogarth, and fleshed out with songs and dialogue by Mills. Each fifteen-minute episode opened with Mills seated at the piano, singing the theme song - "Here comes Muffin, Muffin the Mule" - while Muffin clattered loudly on the top of the piano (operated from behind a set wall by Hogarth).
In January 1947, a thirteen-year old Petula Clark appeared in her own show during the For the Children slot. As well as content, the time slots themselves varied not only in broadcast times but duration in those early years. Many of those transmitted on a Sunday afternoon were causing anxiety in ecclesiastical circles as there was a fear that television would lure children away from Sunday School. The debate became quite heated and prompted Cecil McGivern, then Television Programme Director, to write in July of that year: 'Children are fascinated by television. The correspondence protesting against children being lured away from Sunday School testifies to this. The question of a special programme for children must be tackled one day. I think we should start it now. The present Sunday afternoon attempt at children's items is rather vague and sloppy and is just nibbling away at the problem. In any case, I think we shall be very soon (because of the Sunday School controversy) be forced to make a definitve statement and I think we should anticipate the matter.' Mary Adams, producer of BBC children's programmes in the late 1940s, gave considerable thought to the way children's television could be expanded to offer "plays, how-to-series, storytelling, a collectors' corner, pets, travel, outside broadcasts from museums and factories, informational films, quizzes and encyclopaedia programmes". (This suggestion was made over 10 years before Blue Peter arrived on our screens). The aim was to make children's television a 'service in miniature', replicating all of adult television's genres and formats for younger audiences. She also suggested "A children's newspaper" with personalities of the week as well as illustrated guides to topical events, e.g. the Budget, India, Unesco's Amazon expedition, etc. (This attempt to provide current affairs programmes would be realised in 1950 with Children's Newsreel and over 20 years later with John Craven's Newsround).
For the Children was often referred to as Children's Hour but a BBC memo from Richard Postgate, Acting Head of Children's Proframmes, dated July 1950 clearly outlined the BBC's official title: "May we please expunge the phrase 'Children's Hour'. The phrase in the Radio Times is 'For the Children' and the programmes themselves might well be referred to as 'programmes for the children' or 'the children's programmes.' For the Children finally made way for Watch With Mother which debuted on 11 July 1950.
Gentle comedy series of the boy-meets-girl variety with a unique twist in that the boy and girl in question were both in their seventies. The stars of this series were long-time British comedy favourites who were enjoying a new lease of television life. Irene Handl was already in her forties when she came into acting in the 1950s but soon cornered the market in daffy but lovable malapropism-speaking cockney roles. She immediately illustrated her flair for comedy in shows such as Educating Archie and Hancock's Half Hour and later on appeared in Maggie and Her and Never Say Die. But it was as Ada Cresswell, the widowed septuagenarian in For The Love of Ada that she enjoyed her biggest TV success. Similarly, Wilfred Pickles had appeared in numerous TV series after starting his career as a radio newscaster on national radio back in the 1940s, one of the first newsreaders to be heard speaking in a broad Yorkshire accent. He had also fronted the sentimental Ask Pickles in which he sat alongside his real-life wife, Mabel, and reunited members of families that had not seen each other for many years or made wishes came true - formats that were copied years later for the equally successful Surprise, Surprise and Jim'll Fix It, respectively. The premise for 'Ada' was that one day, whilst visiting the grave of her late husband, Ada meets Walter Bingley, the gravedigger who had laid her husband to rest some years before. The two begin a gentle, companionship only relationship, but over a period of time love blossoms and much to the surprise of Ada's daughter, Ruth (Barbara Mitchell), and son-in-law Leslie (Jack Smethurst), the two get engaged and move in together at Walter's Cemetery Lodge abode. Even at their fine age the course of true love doesn't always run smoothly for Ada and Walter but by the end of series two they are joined in matrimony, and by the fourth series they have become grandparents to baby Anthony (who Leslie -a long time Manchester United supporter wanted to call Nobby, after former United player and World Cup winner Nobby Stiles). The series spawned a less-than successful movie (1972) and the format was picked up in the USA by ABC as A Touch of Grace, which ran for 22 episodes in 1973 and starred Shirley Booth and J Patrick O'Malley.
A young boy escapes to Britain from the fictional Ostonia, a country in Europe. In his possession is a secret formula (Formula 987) discovered by his scientist father (Stratford Johns), a victim of political opression. The formula is for a chemical that could shake industry. But should it fall into the wrong hands, the world would be facing a disaster like no other before. Soon after his arrival in England, Erik Stahl (Joseph Cuby), hotly pursued by foreign agents, takes refuge at a London secondary modern school where he makes friends with two students Roger (played by 17-year old David Langford) and Pat (played by 12-year old Jeanette Bradbury). Here the school lab is put to good use as the youngsters try out the formula much to the startled amazement of their science teacher (Ken Watson). But Erik's experiment brings him to the attention of the nosey Herr Schmeilder, as well as the ruthless businessman Mr Petersen (Peter Stephens). When the press get to hear of it Erik is soon facing a moral dilemma. His father has told him that if the discovery is likely to be used for evil he must destroy it immediately.
Formula For Danger was a 7-part 30-minute Sunday adventure series broadcast at 5.15pm throughout March and most of April 1960. Programme Consultant was Mary Field, former Head of the Children's Film Foundation at this time working for ATV. "Of course we must start with a good story," she was reported as saying in the TV Times, "but that is no reason why we can't also put over a message. In this case it's a simple argument that science must be above politics and personal gain. The inventor has a right to stand up against politicians and big business." Producer Cecil Petty had the help of technical experts from the Regent Street Polytechnic in London, in setting up a jungle of test tubes, pipes and retorts for the experiment scene while script-writer Vivian Milroy was even more adventurous by creating a new language - Ostonian - using a mixture of German, Russian and Norwegian, even going so far as to produce a glossary of basic 'Ostonian' terms. Four of the cast received so much fan mail that ATV teamed them up again later in the year for Mill of Secrets. (Based on original TV Times articles).
The last major British serial to be filmed in black and white, The Forsyte Saga, at a cost of 250,000 GBP was the BBC's most expensive drama ever made at that time. In spite of the fact that producer Donald Wilson had to overcome a number of problems in order to get the production to the screen in the first place (the BBC's reluctance to negotiate the publishing rights of novels being an example), the 26 episodes became a resounding success, winning universal acclaim and becoming the first BBC serial ever purchased by the Soviet Union. The series chronicled the saga of a London merchant family between 1879-1926, beginning with Jo Forsyte (Kenneth More), who is seen leaving his wife for his pregnant mistress. His cousin, a calculating lawyer by the name of Soames (Eric Porter), marries the beautiful Irene (Nyree Dawn Porter), but it is a loveless marriage and Irene soon turns to architect Phillip Bosinney (John Bennett). In one of television's most memorably shocking scenes, Soames rapes his wife in an attempt to reclaim her. The marriage ends in divorce and Irene marries Jo before giving birth to a son, Jon. Soame's remarries and his second wife, Annette (Dallia Penn), gives birth to a daughter, Fleur (Susan Hampshire). As the series moves into the 1920's the infidelity continues as Fleur and Jon become involved in a tempestuous relationship. In spite of being tucked away on BBC2, the series attracted no less than six million viewers on its first showing and when repeated on BBC1 the following year a staggering 18 million people tuned in. The Forsyte Saga spawned a number of copycat series such as The First Churchills and The Pallisers and was so popular when shown on the PBS networks across the US that it prompted other literary works to be adapted for the small screen, the most memorable being Rich Man, Poor Man. A new production of The Forsyte Saga came to our screens in 2002.
FORTUNES OF WAR (1987)
British drama series about the experiences of a newly married couple at the outbreak of World War II. Click Here for review
Victorian comedy series starring Jimmy Edwards as James Fossett, a writer of "penny dreadfuls", who, from his address at 14 Old Cobblers Street (eventually demolished under the Nauseous Dwellings Abatement Act of 1902) tried his hand at being an inventor, journalist, patron of the arts, company director and bon viveur, or any other scheme - by hook or by crook - that might earn him a pretty penny. An article he had contributed to a new magazine, The Amateur Astronaut, entitled "Constructing a Flying Machine for three and sixpence" caused considerable comment. But the magazine was short lived - although not as short lived as those readers who followed Fossett's advice. His only companion is Herbert Quince (Sam Kydd), a self-employed window cleaner, friend, unpaid valet, biographer, amanuensis and moneylender. Fossett characteristically despised the only work which brought him his livelihood, 523 episodes of the Green Dwarf library, a boys' magazine, but his despairing cry that he was capable of better things was largely ignored. Fossett and Quince were the only regular characters in this 7-part series written by Dave Freeman while the likes of June Whitfield, Eric Barker, Eric Chitty and Graham Stark stopped by for single visits.
Originally billed as a 'sparkling new comedy series' about life in a typical south London black family, The Fosters was anything but typical, new or original. In fact, had this not been the first British series to feature an all black cast, and had it not given a first 'starring' role to Lenny Henry, it's odds on that the series would have long faded from the memory. In a roundabout and somewhat ironic way, The Fosters actually came to British screens via Till Death Us Do Part. Johnny Speight's series about the bigoted Alf Garnett was sold to the USA as All In The Family, which was then spun off into Maude, which in turn begat Good Times and that was the basis of The Fosters. In fact, when the USA sold the format to the UK it was under the condition that with a little anglicising, the British script 'adapter' would use the original Good Times scripts. And this is where the series fell down-as the original US scripts were not that good in the first place.
Those tuning in and expecting something of a cutting edge comedy (as 'Till Death' and 'Family' had been) were sadly disappointed. In fact, not only did the series fail to impress the audience it was undoubtedly aimed at, it also courted controversy from many critics as reinforcing racial stereotypes. It's a shame; because its cast of talented actors deserved much more. The Fosters were made up of easy-going dad, Samuel (Norman Beaton), and spirited mum, Pearl (Isabelle Lucas), both immigrants from Guyana who had made their home in a high-rise tower block (flat 131) in South London. Here, against the odds and constantly struggling to make ends meet they raise a family that consist of artistic eldest boy, Sonny (Lenny Henry), teenage daughter, Shirley (Sharon Rosita) and youngest son Benjamin (Lawrie Mark). The other main character was near neighbour, Vilma (Carmen Munro), Pearl's friend and confidante from number 139. For at least three of the cast there were happier times on the television horizon. Lenny Henry (who at 17 had arrived on British TV as an impressionist on New Faces) became one third of Three Of A Kind before carving out a career as one of Britain's biggest and best-loved comedy stars. And 'Fosters' neighbours Norman Beaton and Carmen Munro were joined in matrimony for the far more deserving, first-class and award winning sitcom; Desmond's.
Crime and mystery series that starred Jack Hawkins (as British M.P. Ben Manfred), Hollywood song and dance man Dan Dailey (as US journalist Tim Collier -who was based in Paris), Richard Conte (as New York Professor of Law, Jeff Ryder) and Vittorio de Sica (as Italian hotelier Ricco Poccari) all of whom had been members of the same unit during the war. They took turns each week in tackling an injustice (the episode being set in either London, New York, Paris or Rome) and each was aided by a female assistant, one of whom was future 'Avenger' Honor Blackman. Based on a novel by Edgar Wallace originally published in 1905, this ITC series was really one of the first to throw together so many top ranking international stars and the series enjoyed a fair amount of success during its two year run.
The lives and times of a South London family with criminal connections. Click Here for review
Brian Worth starred as Francis Storm, former wartime Special Operations Executive who helped Resistance members in and out of France, turned private investigator of the unusual who lived and operated out of a mews flat in cobbled Kensington Palace Close. Storm could often be found ghost-hunting in a haunted cathedral, scouring London's docklands looking for smugglers, or trailing a secret weapon. Nothing, it seems, was beyond Storm's scope. Aided and abetted by his 17 - year old assistant, Robin (William Simons), an expert in microphotogaphy and fingerprints, secretary Penny (Sarah Long)- who also joined him on his investigations, and Sergeant Horace Pilcher (Robin Wentworth), ex Royal Marine who served as Storm's cook, handyman, driver, mechanic and "basher open of doors", Storm was written as, according to 32-year old scriptwriter Elliott Hayes, a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. The single series was aimed at children and was aired on Tuesday afternoons.
6 episodes of 30-minute duration. Associated Rediffusion. 1960.
Spin-off's from successful series are always fraught with the danger that the certain magic which a character possessed in the original will somehow be lost in the process of transfer. When the character in question was a core member of a phenomenally successful ensemble series like Cheers, then the danger of failure is even greater. Luckily, Frasier not only avoided that danger, it actually succeeded in transcending the brilliance of its parent show to become quite possibly the most sophisticatedly stylish US situation comedy series ever produced. The series finds Kelsey Grammer's snobbishly egotistical psychiatrist, Doctor Frasier Crane living once again in his native Seattle, where he host's a popular radio phone-in show. As with Cheers, Frasier boasts a fine ensemble cast of outstandingly talented actors whose performances mesh so perfectly with the high quality, top drawer scripts from a team of the brightest comedy writers currently working in television anywhere.
Amongst a cast as consistently excellent as Grammer himself, along with veteran actor John Mahoney as Frasier's resolutely low-brow, ex cop father, Martin Crane, Jane Leeves (a former dancer on 'The Benny Hill Show'), the sassy, slightly eccentric home help and physiotherapist to Martin, Daphne Moon, one character constantly threatens to eclipse them all. Frasier's younger, smarter and altogether more ineffectual brother, Doctor Niles Crane. In the hen-pecked, cowardly, waspishly tongued Niles, actor David Hyde-Pierce has created one of the truly great character's of modern situation comedy. So perfectly judged is his performance that even in episodes where Niles is non central to the story's action, his brief appearance is certain to provide the episode's crowning moment of comedy. In fact Frasier and Niles' bouts of sibling verbal sparring are so brilliantly executed by Grammer and Hyde-Pierce that never for a moment do you doubt in the carefully constructed reality of their fictional brotherhood. The sheer delight of their sharply written, beautifully observed and acted war of words is the yardstick that lesser comedies can only aspire to -but seldom achieve.
Frasier is the modern US sitcom at its zenith. Brilliantly written, acted and slickly produced with the added bonus of acknowledging that its audience is aware and intelligent enough to savour the numerous throwaway allusions to literature, art and culture that liberally pepper every episode. Frasier is that rarest of television beasts, a spin-off that actually succeeds in outshining its illustrious progenitor. Who could ask for more? (Review: Stephen R. Hulse)
One the most fondly remembered children's adventure series of its generation, Freewheelers was an adrenalin-charged 30 minute actioneer from Southern Television that featured all the gadgets of a decent Bond movie minus the sex and sadism. The Freewheelers were a group of teenage (usually about 18 or 19 years old) agents working under the umbrella of MI5 and who got their orders from Colonel Buchan (Ronald Leigh-Hunt). The original line-up consisted of Chris Kelly (Gregory Phillips), Bill Cowan (Tom Owen) and Terry Driver (Mary Maude) and told the tale of a student who stumbled across a mystery at a railway station, teamed up with two similarly young bystanders and formed a mystery-cracking team. The regular villain of the piece was a disgruntled Nazi called Von Gelb (Geoffrey Toone) who was trying to avenge Germany's defeat in the war. Von Gelb lived on a motor launch which would have been beyond the budget of most children's series. However, Southern Television owned an outside broadcasting/news gathering boat called The Southerner (the only British TV company to possess one), which conveniently doubled as the villain's craft and had numerous storylines devised around its employ. The Von Gelb character was dropped when the series was sold to West Germany but the format remained the same with the current baddie bent on world domination via the kidnapping of a famous scientist who had just invented a new mind control drug, killer laser beam, etc...but the plotlines were usually secondary to the action which took the cast and crew to Spain, France, Holland and Sweden for location work. In all probability series producer Chris McMaster was able to gain backing from the various countries as he filmed almost travelogue style as recorded in the following quote from the ITV Guide to Independent Television 1974:
"The schedule was tight. In three crowded weeks it was planned to film at a colourful gypsy festival on the shores of the Mediterranean; on the desolate marshy wastes of the Camargue; at a chateau whose history dates back to the thirteenth century; in the shadows of the awesome 'Pont d'arc', a majestic natural bridge of rock more than 150 feet high and 200 feet wide, spanning the Ardèche."
Publicity stunts were also cleverly utilised, in the case of the French jaunt it appears that a French television service got wind of the filming and turned up under the misapprehension that a new James Bond movie was in the making. In the end the eight man French crew left but three of its team stayed on several days with the British location unit.
The cast of Freewheelers changed over its eight season run as the producer injected a little more sex appeal by casting Adrian Wright (as Mike Hobbs) to set female pulses racing with his pin-up good looks from series four, and former Doctor Who companion Wendy Padbury joining the cast (as Sue Craig) from series five. But there was never any suggestion that any of the characters ever enjoyed anything but a purely platonic relationship, being too busy racing around and swapping punches with the baddies. A lot of Freewheelers was junked during the late seventies/early eighties purge of the archives, however, Mike Wormersley, the original film editor on the series privately saved many episodes and the entire first series was recovered in 2000 followed by a special screening of one complete adventure by the British Film Institute. In its day Freewheelers was a refreshing change to the standard kids adventure series, being packed with fast cars, speedboats, punch-ups and pin-up characters-it wouldn't be out of place on today's television.
FRENCH AND SAUNDERS (1987)
Trailblazing multi-award winning sketch show Click Here for review
William and Hester Field have been very happily married for twenty years. Their children have flown the nest, and Hester thinks there should be a few things left to do between now and the pension book. With a renewed zest for life and a fresh dynamism in their relationship, she insists that the couple take up a number of new pastimes and challenges - even if William sometimes lacks his wife's enthusiasm and seemingly boundless energy. Starring Anton Rodgers as accountant William and Julia McKenzie as accomplished cook Hester, Fresh Fields' wry, gentle humour made it a firm favourite with viewers, spawning an equally popular sequel - French Fields - and earning McKenzie a BAFTA nomination for Best Light Entertainment Performance. The series, which aired between 1984 and 1986, was produced and directed by sitcom veteran Peter Frazer-Jones. In a 2004 survey conducted by the BBC to find Britain's Best Sitcom, Fresh Fields finished 83rd.
A group of friends share life in the Manhattan area of New York City. here. Click Here for review
Actress, singer and comedienne Millicent Martin and American actress Patte Finley starred as high-spirited air stewardesses facing one dizzy dilemma after another in this rarely seen ITC series made in 1969. Martin played the well-meaning but dangerously impulsive Millie - whose heart invariably ruled her head - while Finley starred as Maggie, her anguished American colleague who knew that every trip would be a flight into the unknown. Their exploits caused endless consternation for long-suffering boss Mr. Beauchamp (Peter Jones), but Millie's Irish uncle, Bert (Robert Cawdron), was always on hand to offer his unique brand of advice. From a Birds Eye View broke new ground for a TV situation comedy, for the first time pairing two established comediennes in an Anglo-American comedy series, funded jointly by Lew Grade's ITC company in the UK and Sheldon Leonard Productions in the USA where it was sold to NBC. Leonard a pioneering American film and television producer, director, writer, and actor who had previously produced The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Spy to name a few. The series also boasted direction by U.S. comedy veteran Ralph Levy - whose previous work included I Love Lucy, The Groucho Marx Show and The Beverly Hillbillies and who had won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy for The Jack Benny Programme. In spite of so much American influence From a Birds Eye View was shot in London and as a result it featured many British comedy character actors in guest roles - among them were Richard Briers, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, Arthur Mullard and Frank Thornton. When the series ended most of the production staff and writers were retained for ITC's next transatlantic cooperation; Shirley's World starring Shirley MacLaine. (Network DVD).
Fleet Street was the setting for this ATV series, which took viewers into the fictional offices of a daily newspaper with a circulation of 2,500,000 readers, called The Globe. Made by Rex Firkin, who produced the successful series 'The Plane Makers' and starring London born actor John Bennett as Ray Boscombe, an ambitious, power-seeking newspaperman who was The Globe's editor. Most of the stories were seen through the eyes of two reporters, Danny Tarrant (Derek Godfrey) and Paddy Lucas (Harry Towb), the former being a persistent, unflappable character relying on smooth charm whilst the latter was a persuasive, argumentative and sometimes lazy journalist. Other notable's in this series were the Editorial Director played by Ivor Dean who was familiar to British viewers as Inspector Claude Eustace Teal in The Saint and rival newspaper reporter John Brownhill played by a young Patrick Mower (later the impetuous killer Cross in James Mitchell's spy series Callan). In order to make the series as authentic as possible many scenes were shot in Fleet Street itself (which at that time was the centre of the British newspaper industry) using a new outside broadcast one-camera technique called Monoculous. This single-camera unit was mounted on the roof of a vehicle that also contained sound and vision controls, together with a video tape recording machine. Dated by today's standards but quite innovative at the time.
Now seen as one of the most important series in the development of British TV comedy, The Frost Report carried on where That Was The Week That Was had left off, and went further still as it left no established convention un-satirised. In turn it sowed the seeds for successive comedy shows for (at least) the next two decades as it's writers and performers went on to become, somewhat paradoxically (and perhaps in a way that was worthy of one of their own sketches), the comedy establishment themselves. Each week the show would carry a particular theme, politics, food and drink, education, popular culture, the law, holidays, authority, leisure, class etc. In fact, you name it and The Frost Report probably covered it at one time or another. The topic, once introduced by David Frost, would then be subjected to half an hour of monologue, sketch and music (the latter of which was provided by Tom Lehrer or Julie Felix). The show was able to boast some of the country's top comedy writers and performers (Anthony Jay, Keith Waterhouse, Willis Hall, Denis Nordern, Frank Muir and many others) but where it became seminal in the history of TV comedy was is in the fact that both in front and behind the camera it gave rise to some of the entertainment worlds ascending talents. Writers like John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle would soon move in front of the camera (Cleese was the first to do so), to develop and star in series' such as At Last The 1948 Show, Do Not Adjust Your Set and Monty Python's Flying Circus (each of which would discover even more stars), Marty Feldman would very soon become a star in his own right and two of the shows leading performers, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett formed the foundation of a long standing partnership that what would eventually be known as The Two Ronnies.
Of all the send-up's that appeared on The Frost Report, the best remembered, and often held as representative of the shows style was the Marty Feldman/John Law penned sketch about class. This involved 6ft 5inch Cleese standing next to 5ft 8inch Barker who in turn stood next to 5ft 1inch Corbett, and using each man's height to illustrate their standing in society. Middle-Class Barker explains: 'I look up to him (Cleese) because he is upper class but I look down on him (Corbett) because he is lower class.' Corbett: 'I know my place.' The sketch lasted no more than a few minutes but remained in the memory for so long that some thirty or more years later Ronnie Barker came out of retirement to make an updated version for a TV special with Ronnie Corbett (John Cleese was unavailable so Stephen Fry stood in for him). There was 2 series comprising 26 shows and two specials between 1966 and 1967 and the first of these specials, Frost Over England, was a compilation of highlights from the first 13 with some newly scripted material, which won the prestigious Golden Rose at the Montreux Festival in 1967. (The second special was called Frost Over Christmas). The format returned in 1969 as Frost On Sunday (although now switching channels to ITV). Episodes of the latter series have been released by Network DVD.
"Name: Richard Kimble.
Profession: Doctor of medicine.
Destination: Death Row, state prison.
Richard Kimble has been tried and convicted for the murder of his wife.
But Richard Kimble is innocent..."
The original, and still the best example of television's love affair with the 'Running Man' theme. The Fugitive starred David Janssen as Doctor Richard Kimble, a man wrongly tried and convicted for the murder of his wife, and his on-going quest to clear his name and bring to justice the real killer-the shadowy, ever elusive, one armed man. Between 1963-1967 Kimble's single-minded quest enthralled audiences world-wide as he traversed the USA in pursuit of his wife's killer, whilst trying to escape the clutches of the law himself, and in particular the man responsible for his capture; Lieutenant Gerard. Produced by the prolific Quinn Martin, the series boasted consistently tight writing and a commandingly understated central performance from Janssen, who imbued the Kimble character with a dignity and strength which elicited a strong sense of empathy and deep emotional attachment from the series legion of fans, and in the process helped define the basic winning formula for countless shows which followed in its incredibly successful wake. Another aspect which set the series apart from many which had come before it and would follow, was the fact that Kimble's quest was actually resolved. The two part special which saw Kimble finally bring his wife's elusive murderer to ultimate justice, and clear his own name, used a unique and unprecedented method to ensure that the series ending remained secret. The second part of the special was broadcast on the same day throughout the world (29th September 1967). The gamble paid off, and the finale was rewarded with a viewing share of the audience in the U.S. alone of 72 per cent, at that time the largest recorded for a single episode of an on-going series.
Janssen, who was raised to the status of international star by the series went on to front O'Hara, US Treasury and Harry O before his well publicised alcoholism brought about his premature death. In 1993 Harrison Ford portrayed Kimble in the highly successful and Academy Award nominated movie version which also inspired a sequel - (US Marshalls). The Narrator on the TV series was William Conrad who would go on to star in his own TV series, as the burly private detective Frank Cannon. (Another Quinn Martin production). A genuine television landmark, The Fugitive remains a fondly remembered series whose legacy is still very much a potent force in the basic format for many US shows created up to the present day.
Fury is a horse that no-one has yet been able to tame, a magnificent, fiery black stallion with a temper as hot as the desert sun. Joey Clark is a young orphan, a boy with no ties to anyone or anything, who finds himself dogged by accusations of wrongdoing wherever he goes. Thrown together on the ranch owned by widower Jim Newton, they share a rebellious spirit, and together forge a bond of trust that no man can break. Set amid the rugged range country of California and featuring action-packed storylines that always emphasised the importance of doing the right thing, this much-loved series for younger viewers was a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic. Fury was the first series produced by the newly created TPA (Television Programs of America) in association with ITC. The series starred Peter Graves as Jim Newton, alongside newcomer Bobby Diamond as Joey. But the undeniable star of the series was Fury, registered as 'Highland Dale' but also credited as 'Beauty' and 'Gypsy', and known to the crew and cast simply as 'Beaut' - the highly intelligent and charismatic American Saddlebred stallion whose other famous credits include Giant and Gypsy Colt. Impeccably trained by owner Ralph McCutcheon, 'Beaut' was insured for more than a quarter of a million dollars; he won several Patsy awards - the animal equivalent of the Oscars, established by the American Humane Association - and scores of devoted admirers worldwide.