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One of the major female recording artists of all time, Jo Elizabeth Stafford (1917-2008) was an American singer of traditional pop music and jazz standards whose career ran from the late 1930s to the early 1960s by which time she had sold in excess of 25,000,000 records. Among her best sellers were Make Love To Me, Jambalaya, Temptation and You Belong To Me. On September 9, 1961 viewers caught their first glimpse of nine star-studded shows seen fortnightly. This was billed as the most ambitious series ever launched by a British television production company, the first international musical series incorporating artistes from Britain and America. Produced at ATV's Boreham Wood studios each show had a theme. The first show dealt with the basic difference in the English language as spoken in America and the UK. Guests in this show included Graham Stark and Peter Sellers. One show dealt with the subject of love and Stafford was joined by Ella Fitzgerald for a musical medley while Claire Bloom recited verse and Kathleen Harrison and George Benson performed in a sketch. Another show on travel starred Kenneth More who bought with him the vintage motor car 'Genevieve' as seen in the movie of the same name. Other guests included Roy Castle, Peter Lawford, Edd Byrnes, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Bob Hope, Benny Hill, Harry Secombe and Mel Torme. Other themes included the four seasons, chivalry and big bands. One show which was recorded at the London Palladium, starred Robert Morley, Stanley Holloway and Morecambe and Wise.
Debuting on only ITV's second Sunday of transmission (October 2nd 1955) as Leslie Randall
Entertains - Joan and Leslie featured real-life husband and wife team Joan Reynolds and Leslie
Randall in commercial television's first home-grown sitcom. Leslie was a lonely-hearts columnist
who went under the pen-name of Dorothy Goodheart, whilst his wife played the true-to-life role of
an actress. Interviewed before the start of the series Leslie Randall said, "I am a great admirer
of 'Burns and Allen' but we do not intend to imitate them in any way." Nevertheless this didn't
stop the scripts (for which both stars made contributions) from depicting his wife in the
traditional (for that time) role of the guileless female. However the series proved popular enough
with the public for the original 15-minute episodes to be expanded to 30 minutes and the
fortnightly transmissions to be increased to weekly at the behest of ATV supremo Lew Grade, who
also gave the stars a raise to a reported 7,000 pounds a year. Some of the episodes were
transmitted from London's Hackney Empire and as all the episodes went out live which restricted
most of the action to the couples flat which was above their friend Mike's garage. Apart from the
husband and wife team, Harry Towb appeared as Mike and Noele Dyson played a housemaid by the name
of Mrs Henshaw (something of a type-casting comedic role for Dyson, who later became cook and
cleaner to Patrick Cargill's family in Father Dear Father). For the first time in the UK
four writers were employed permanently engaged in preparing one weekly script. Dick Sharples,
Gerald Kelsey, John Law and Bill Craig were the collaborators and the series was produced by Hugh
Rennie. Although the series finished in 1958, the Randall's were seen on British screens almost
entirely throughout the 1960's, firstly in the follow-on comedy entitled The Randall Touch
but more famously in a series of TV advertisements for Fairy Snow, which ran for almost ten
years. Further more, in 1969 they made a brand new series for the Seven Network in Australia (also
called Joan and Leslie), although it was never aired in the UK. This was a continuation of
the earlier UK effort: Randall again was writing a lonely-hearts column as Dorothy Goodheart,
which is mentioned in several of the episodes, and Joan mentions in the first episode that she's
Chris Keating, presenter / Production Manager at Inner FM Community Radio, presenter / producer at Plenty Valley Community Radio and long-time researcher of Australian television says: "I've also a sneaking suspicion that some of the earlier scripts may have been used: scripts are credited to Randall, Sharples, Kelsey, Craig as well as Tony Scott, and Rosalie Stephenson."
Anderson's ninth consecutive TV puppet series and the sixth in the ever expanding Supermarionation
stable, Joe 90 marked the beginning of a conscious change of style and pace towards the
more realistic sophistication of character design and technique which had begun with Captain
Scarlet and the Mysterons. Gone were the overtly hi-tech hardware and more traditionally epic
heroics of previous Anderson outings, to be replaced by the smaller scaled secret agent adventures
of a bespectacled nine-year-old schoolboy named Joe McClain, who was the adopted son of brilliant
electronics genius, Professor Ian McClaine, creator of the BIG RAT device, (Brain Impulse
Galvanoscope Record And Transfer), a technologically sophisticated device which recorded the brain
patterns and special skills of one person and transferred them to another. At the suggestion of
Shane Weston, Deputy Head of the World Intelligence Network, McClaine subjected Joe to the BIG RAT
treatment, successfully transferring to the boy the specialist knowledge and attributes of an
appropriate highly skilled adult, thereby making him WIN's "Most Special Agent".
At the outset of each mission, Joe would be placed in a special chair that rose up into a circular cage which revolved as the BIG RAT tape containing the chosen specialist's brain patterns was run and fed directly into the boy's mind. Once the transfer was complete, Joe would don a pair of 'electrode glasses' to trigger the new knowledge housed within him. Over the course of the series, his missions called upon him to adopt the personas of such diverse experts as an astronaut, test pilot, racing driver, aquanaut, computer boffin and a brain surgeon. Among the well known vocal talents behind the characters were those of TV's original Maigret, Rupert Davies, and Keith Alexander, the voice of another 1960s puppet celebrity - Topo Gigio. Clearly the most child oriented of the latter Anderson Supermarionation series, Joe 90s appeal with the adult section of the audience which had been captured by Thunderbirds and its follow up series Captain Scarlet, suffered from the decision to make the all important central character a child. While still enjoyable and technically accomplished, ultimately Joe 90 is remembered as one of the Anderson stable's lesser series. (co writer Stephen R. Hulse).
When the Disney Channel contracted the UK ITV broadcaster HTV Wales to bring to the screen this
major drama series, it realised a legacy left by Robert Louis Stevenson when he wrote his classic
thriller more than a hundred years ago. At the end of Treasure Island, Stevenson suggested the
idea of further booty - an idea developed by writer John Goldsmith into the ten-hour networked
series starring Brian Blessed as Long John Silver and Christopher Guard as Jim Hawkins. "Stevenson
cleverly planted the idea of more treasure on the island" said Goldsmith. "And he left all the
principals alive." Goldsmith's sequel takes place 10 years after the time of Stevenson's famous
novel. Long John Silver learns that the most valuable part of the treasure - a cache of diamonds -
still lies buried on Treasure Island. To get the map, which reveals the secret burial spot, Silver
has to return to England at great personal risk. His arrival in England coincides with Jim
Hawkins' coming down from Oxford and his acceptance of a commission to run Squire Trelawny's sugar
plantation in Jamaica. The series was shot in Jamaica and Spain, as well as Gloucester in England
and at several locations in South Wales. Both in terms of numbers of people and time-scale of the
project, the filming of John Silver's Return to Treasure Island was a mammoth task. Director Piers
Haggard had to take over 100 people on the seven-week shoot in Jamaica and the whole project had
to be shot in 20 weeks. The production used 90 actors and hundreds of extras. In Jamaica, a
harbour had to be dredged to get two of the four ships used in the series into port. Producer Alan
Clayton said: "In Jamaica, in Spain and at certain UK locations we had to take the unusual step of
using two fully-equipped film units simultaneously. This meant the odds were doubly against us but
we could achieve more within a tight filming schedule."
In a series full of personal challenges, Brian Blessed's task of coping with the one- legged role of Long John Silver was of the most daunting. Blessed, at that time, ran three miles and worked out on weights two hours every day. He had to add some exercises to his routine to strengthen the leg that carried his weight, the other leg being strapped up underneath his coat. Blessed eventually added two inches to the circumference of his right leg, enabling him to run 100 yards in 17 seconds on his wooden leg. "I take great pride in being fit and enjoy it enormously," Blessed said. "If you're playing a powerful character like Silver, who is a lethal, fighting man, and a tremendously dangerous, physical man, it gives an added dimension if you're fit yourself. The audience believes in the character as you play him." Blessed, who had no fewer than 65 fight scenes in the series, said of the character "I've never loved doing a character quite so much." Adding: "Silver is a complex, cunning character. He's a chameleon, constantly changing his colour to suit the situation."
Whilst shooting in Almeria in Spain Director Piers Haggard was injured in a riding accident when the horse he was on stopped suddenly. The resulting fall injured his pelvis and he ended up in hospital where he continued to work, as 16mm editing equipment was brought into his room and so he could view the latest edits. According to Roger Mitchell, one of the series' assistant editors, the series was to be more simply titled Return To Treasure Island, but just before transmission, an author contacted HTV to claim that he had written a novel years earlier using that very title, and now wanted to be compensated for the use of his title. Rather than deal with him, HTV simply added the words "John Silver's" to the title. (Source: Television and Radio 1987)
Simplicity was the keynote; place seasoned wits into a studio with a filing cabinet of funny stories, offer a card to one comedian and let him tell a joke. Then you tell the others that they must interrupt and finish the joke for the man who picked the card. Running for nine highly successful series, Jokers Wild was a lively, rapidly paced panel game in which two teams of top comics competed for laughs from the studio audience. Hosted by comedy Barry Cryer, the show's line-up often read like a Who's Who? of British comedy talent - John Cleese, Bob Monkhouse, Arthur Askey, Eric Sykes and Sid James being just a few of the famous players over the course of its six-year run. The first series, featuring Les Dawson, Ted Ray, Charlie Chester, Jimmy Edwards, Alfred Marks and Roy Hudd, originally screened in 1969, has been made available on DVD for the first time and includes the unscreened pilot episode. (Network DVD & original TV Times article)
Inspired by the original 1962 James Bond movie, Dr. No, influential American animator Joseph Barbera decided to develop a high-tech action-adventure series for television. Barbera produced a short two-minute story based on the US radio series Jack Armstrong but having done so he found that he was unable to make a deal with Jack Armstrong's copyright owners and the project was cancelled. Instead, Barbera hired noted comic strip artist Doug Wildey to develop a character who was originally called Chip Baloo before finally being named Jonny Quest, the name, allegedly taken from a phone book, being more symbolic of the type of adventures and mysteries that our hero would encounter. Jonathan "Jonny" Quest is an 11-year old boy, the son of a widowed US government scientist, Dr Benton Quest, who, from his home base in the Florida Keys, sets off on adventures that take him all over the world. Jonny, who is proficient in judo, scuba diving and handling firearms, accompanies his father on these sometimes dangerous missions along with Special Agent Race Bannon, a street-wise orphan called Hadji and their pet dog, Bandit. There is a recurring villain in the form of Dr. Zin, an Asian criminal mastermind, but mostly the Quest team find themselves pitched against a different foe in each story. Jonny Quest first appeared on US television in 1964 but soon found itself the centre of controversy as many parents were concerned of the levels of violence for a children's cartoon series. Nevertheless, the series ran for two seasons. The closing credits include clips from the Jack Armstrong test film even though they do not appear in any Jonny Quest episode.
The seventeen episodes that made up Journey to the Unknown were a mixture of psychological suspense, medical experimentation and science fiction with a little murder and mystery thrown in for good measure -So it's not surprising to learn that executive producers Joan Harrison and Norman Lloyd had previously worked on another TV series, with the master of suspense himself...Alfred Hitchcock. Hammer Films made the series in Britain although US filmmakers Twentieth Century Fox financed it to the tune of 70,000 pounds per episode. This was Hammer's first venture into TV after establishing itself in the mid 1950's with cinematic retellings of such classics as Frankenstein and Dracula (although its first international success came in 1955 with The Quatermass Xperiment - US title The Creeping Unknown.) The series premiered in the US several weeks prior to its UK debut (on ABC) but even then it was not afforded a steady run, being shown mainly in the London area with only sporadic viewings elsewhere. A steady mixture of American and British stars appeared and they included Michael Gough, Dennis Waterman, Milo O'Shea, Stephanie Powers, George Maharis, Joseph Cotton, Nanette Newman, David Hedison, Jane Asher, Bernard Lee, Roddy McDowell, Ingrid Pitt, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Hedley, and Paul Daneman. The 'Unknown' referred to in the title was the Human Mind.
Ancient Chinese detective stories written in English by a modern Dutch diplomat. The Judge Dee
stories first appeared in print in 1949 but soon drew praise from such connoisseurs of the genre
as Agatha Christie and J. B. Priestley and also became best sellers throughout Asia. The lore of
ancient China had fascinated author Robert van Gulik since he was a student. He translated an
18th-century detective story by an unknown Chinese author. It was called 'Dee Goong An', or
'Criminal Cases Solved by Judge Dee', and featured the exploits of Dee Jen-djieh (or Di Renjie), a
magistrate who lived in the seventh century A.D. Having spent most of his career in the Far East,
(he served as Dutch Ambassador in Malaya, Japan and Lebanon), Gulik had noticed how popular
British and American crime stories were, especially in China and Japan where the book stalls were
filled with what he considered 'third rate' novels. Drawing on the old tales, he wrote new stories
about Judge Dee, drafting them into English, for translation afterwards into Chinese and Japanese.
He chose Judge Dee as his hero because more was known about him than any other investigator. Dee
was a serving magistrate in various provincial towns and solved a great number of crimes (it was
said that he judged some 17,000 cases within a year). At that time the district magistrate was
known as "the father-and-mother official". He had to be a detective, prosecutor, judge and jury
all in one and his power was formidable. Dee became a statesman of national importance who opposed
the cruelty of Empress Wu. Captured and tortured and sentenced to death by his enemies, Dee
escaped and returned to power foiling a scheme by the Empress to put an unlawful heir on the
throne. It was during the early period of Dee's life that Gulik set the stories, sometimes
borrowing the plots straight from old Chinese stories. In 1969 the stories were adapted for the
small screen by John Wiles. "I began," said Wiles in a TV Times interview, "by thinking in terms
of 'Z-Cars', but I soon realised I was wrong. To bring atmosphere we had to be deliberately
theatrical. Judge Dee is a larger-than-lie character. The problem is to keep him from being too
large for the television screen."
The series starred Michael Goodliffe as Dee with Garfield Morgan as Tao Gan and Arne Gordon as Ma Joong, the judge's two assistants. Unfortunately, it was not a ratings success. Critics complained of the series inability to translate the panoramic view of Imperial Chinese society, its excessive concentration on Dee's relationship with his wives rather than the crime he was investigating and the intrusive dance routines that appeared to interrupt the plot of each episode. Something of a missed opportunity, overall. (based on original TV Times article)
It's distinctive John Barry theme tune entitled 'Hit and Miss' just about summed up the
whole premise of Juke Box Jury, in which a panel of four guests would sit and listen to the
latest pop single releases and then judge which were going to be a hit (signalled at the end of
the panel's deliberations by a jolly ring) and which were going to be a miss (hailed with a
rasping hooter). Introduced by genial host David Jacobs the very first panel consisted of disc
jockey Pete Murray, singers Alma Cogan and Gary Miller and, representing the typical teenager,
Susan Stranks (later a co-presenter of children's TV show Magpie). While each of the six or
seven records played (nine were normally selected with the last two being held back as standbys in
case the show under-ran), the viewing audience would be entertained by seeing the reaction of the
panel and the studio guests, this being long before the days of the pop video. On the odd occasion
the audience were treated to the novelty of the record in question being slated and then
discovering that the artiste responsible for the platter was waiting in the wings to be
interviewed (no the panel didn't know, either). The show began in 1959 and continued through to
1967 and, with a different guest panel each week, reaching a peak of twelve million viewers. When
The Beatles appeared as panellists in 1964 viewers complained that the audience had been whipped
up into such a state of excitement that screaming teenagers made both the records and the four
Liverpudlians comments completely inaudible. And that was just to hear them discuss other people's
records! Only on one occasion was an extra chair placed on the panel and that was to accommodate
the five members of The Rolling Stones, an event that saw an advanced request of 10,000 tickets.
David Jacobs himself used to receive around 800 fan letters a week but says that although he had
an ear for the hits he was never a big fan of many of the pop stars, preferring Frank Sinatra,
Matt Monro and Petula Clark. "I was the first person to play Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and his
Comets," said Jacobs. "I've never been an Elvis fan. I can see how wonderful he is, but he was
never my sort of singer."
Although the show was criticised in the early days as silly with ill-informed panellists and too much chatter between discs, it had an enduring appeal that led to two revivals, first in 1979 hosted by Noel Edmonds and the second in 1989 hosted by Jools Holland. Neither of these managed to re-capture the unique excitement though of the 1960's, an era that 'swung' like no other before or since.
Not since the 1950s, when Ethel Waters starred as a maid to the Henderson family in the ABC sitcom Beulah, had a black female been cast in a leading TV role (although Waters was replaced for the last season, 1952-53 by Louise Beavers). But in 1968 producer Hal Kanter pitched an idea to NBC and Twentieth Century Fox about a young black widow trying to hold down a job whilst bringing up her young son. The result was a hit sitcom, but one that drew criticism and nearly drove its star, Diahann Carroll, to a nervous breakdown.
Born Carol Diann Johnson in Harlem, NYC on July 17th 1935, Diahann Carroll began her career as a singer and gradually progressed to the stage and films so that by the time the part of Julia Baker came up she was already a veteran of some half-dozen movies, the proud owner of a Tony Award for the musical 'No Doubt', and had also received an Emmy nomination for a 1963 appearance on Naked City. She was 23 when she met and fell in love with Sidney Poitier while they were making 'Porgy and Bess'. He was married and eight years her senior but as she wrote in her autobiography: "The door opened. He stepped inside. My life changed." But despite leaving their respective spouse's the relationship between the two stars didn't last. Carroll remembers hearing of the part for the TV series Julia and then being told that the producer didn't want her because she was 'too sophisticated'. However, Carroll managed to convince Hal Kanter that she was worth a try-out and got hold of a copy of the script for the pilot episode. 'The script was about a young, very middle-class Vietnam war widow who goes to work as a nurse in the aerospace industry. The one really special aspect of the plot was that Julia and her five-year-old son were black.' She said. She thought the script was warm and genteel and "nice" and didn't worry too much about the racial aspect so much. "'Well, I suppose this is kind of progress,'" I thought. 'First television pretended there wasn't any prejudice. Then it pretended there weren't any racial differences. Now it has reached the point where it can not only acknowledge there are differences, but a white man can write jokes for a black woman to say about them.' To prepare for the meeting with Kanter, Diahann Carroll dropped her 'sophisticated' image and turned up at the producer's office as Julia Baker. She changed her hair, put on very little make-up, wore no jewellery and sported just a plain woollen dress. The meeting apparently ended with Kanter saying to her, "Well, Julia, it's nice to have met you." The pilot was shot and NBC ordered an initial thirteen episodes. Diahann Carroll didn't expect it to last much beyond that. Julia was up against a strong comedy line-up for the '68-'69 season including The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, Gomer Pyle, Green Acres, Here's Lucy, Hogan's Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie and Petticoat Junction. The show was a smash hit. Initially rated the number one show on air by Nielsen, Julia finished the first season in the top ten of that year's ratings with Diahann Carroll winning a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination as Best Actress. However, the show was also criticised in some quarters as being unrealistic and unrepresentative of black people and their lifestyle. 'Saturday Review' wrote the show was, 'a far, far cry from the bitter realities of Negro life in the urban ghetto'. Carroll defended the show vehemently at first but by the start of the second season she began to question some of the scripts herself. Both media and political groups were now placing extra pressure on her and by the end of that second season she had become, in her own words, 'almost a wreck'.
By the third season of Julia, Diahann said she simply couldn't take it any more and when the time came to renew her contract, she asked to be released. In all probability Julia had run its course, anyway. It was a 'nice' sitcom about a hard working mother who was trying to bring up her oh-so-cute five-year old son, Corey (Marc Copage) with help from her outwardly grouchy but soft-at-heart boss Dr Morton Chegley (Lloyd Nolan) and fellow nurse Hannah Yarby (Lurene Tuttle). They lived in a racially mixed, middle class apartment and the series rarely tackled any major racial issues. But it broke the traditional mould of 'all white' sitcoms and led the way for future series such as Room 222, Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons, which weren't afraid to tackle such subjects. Without Julia and its acceptance into mainstream television those other shows may have been a lot longer in coming. And for that it is to be commended. (Review: Mike Spadoni)
In 1921 Lilian Wyles was appointed the first woman Inspector to the Criminal Intelligence
Department of the Metropolitan Police. However, it wasn't until 1980 that British television
appointed its first female Inspector. And typically; you wait 59 years for a copper to arrive,
then two turn up together. Although women taking centre stage in police procedurals was nothing
new, previous shows hadn't yet promoted females beyond the rank of Detective Sergeant (as in the
case of Angie Dickinson's character in Police Woman) and elsewhere they simple existed as
stereotypical female characters with sex and 'jiggle' appeal (Charlie's Angels). Even in
the UK women TV cops were treated with double standards, sexist behaviour and demeaning attitudes
(perfectly reflected years later in Ashes to Ashes). Little had changed since Lillian
Wyles' first arrival at the CID where it is alleged that initially her male colleagues took a
rather dim view of her arrival there, and relegated her to the routine work of a statement-taker.
But by the 1980s women were challenging for what had previously been regarded as male- dominated roles in society following a period referred to as 'Second-wave feminism' (1960s through to the late 1970s), and by the early 1980s it was largely perceived that women had met their goals and succeeded in changing social attitudes towards gender roles. This and the fact that Britain now had its first female Prime Minister heavily influenced the perception of women in television roles as television has always been reflective of (as well as influential to) changes in society.
On 11 April 1980 LWT launched its first Police Drama to feature a leading
female detective. Jill Gascoine starred as Inspector Maggie Forbes working for the Metropolitan
Police in seedy Soho. In many respects Forbes was a feminine version of Jack Regan dealing with
prostitutes, blaggers and murderers (in the first episode her Police Constable husband is shot
dead). Just four months later, on 30 August 1980, the BBC launched Juliet Bravo. It is
therefore unlikely that the series was merely in response to the ITV series and its more likely
that both shows had been in development at the same time. The Gentle Touch simply arrived
at the scene of the crime first.
Juliet Bravo was the creation of Ian Kennedy Martin, creator of The Sweeney and whose brother, Troy Kennedy Martin had been responsible for Z Cars. Juliet Bravo was the call sign for Jean D'Arblay (Stephanie Turner) female police Inspector in the fictitious town of Harltey in Lancashire. D'Arblay faced sexism and hostility among her colleagues from the start, the role of a professional female having to juggle her career with her family life whilst facing prejudice was carefully explored at the outset. In the opening episode she also had to deal with a case involving a father holding his daughter hostage. But by and large Juliet Bravo went for less sensationalism than The Gentle Touch, with its setting being in more cosy and reassuring surroundings. Apparently, the two different production teams who worked on The Gentle Touch and Juliet Bravo kept in contact with each other to ensure they did not duplicate storylines of similar nature.
In 1983 D'Arblay was promoted and left Hartley to take up a new post. Stephanie Turner's (who had appeared in the aforementioned Z Cars and The Sweeney - in the latter as George Carter's wife) decision to leave the series didn't mean its demise. A new female Inspector was simply brought in on promotion. Kate Longton (Anna Carteret) was even more dynamic than D'Arblay and this led to clashes with her seniors; in particular with DCI Mark Perrin (Edward Peel). Together both The Gentle Touch and Juliet Bravo changed the public perception of female officers in the police and marked an important shift, not only in television's attitude towards female detectives, but females in important decision making roles, as well. They also paved the way for later dramas which focused on high ranking females such as DCI Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) in Prime Suspect. At its peak Juliet Bravo raked in a huge audience of around 17 million viewers; something unthinkable today.
A boy riding on the back of a rhinoceros ended a talent hunt that reached round the world, according to ATV's 1959 Television Star Book. Producers of Jungle Boy had been looking for a youngster to play the title role in the planned filmed series for some time who could or would be prepared to learn how to handle the animals he would eventually have to co-star with. And with the advice of never work with children or animals ringing in their ears, most of the young actors were reluctant to take up the role. It was whilst searching locations in East Africa that one of the producers came across Michael Carr Hartley, the fourteen year old son of a famous naturalist and wild animal handler, Carr Hartley. Young Michael, who had lived in Kenya all his life was riding piggyback on a rare white rhinoceros, when first noticed. The understanding that Michael had with the animals made him a natural for the role of a boy who grows up in the wilds as an orphan, when the rest of his family is killed in an airplane crash. Filmed entirely on location in Kenya, East Africa, the regular cast featured Ronald Adam as Dr. Laurence and Jungle Boy's pet cheetah.Pre publicity for the series boasted that it was "quite unspolied by any 'trick' shots. All its scenes are real and have been filmed on the spot in East Africa."The series was shown in the USA as The Adventures of a Jungle Boy.
With Only Fools and Horses beginning to climb the ratings, writer John Sullivan turned his hand to an entirely new comedy. One inspiration for this was his desire to feature a female central character, and another was a problem letter that his wife had read to him from a woman's magazine. Just Good Friends starred Jan Francis as sweet sophisticated Penny Warrender, who was out on a date at a pub when she bumped into Vince Pinner (Paul Nicholas), the man who had left her at the altar five years beforehand. Vince, a typically lovable wide-boy of the type that Sullivan is so adept at creating, was obviously still struck on his jilted ex-fiance, and in spite of her protestations to the contrary, she was obviously still in love with him. In Penny, both Sullivan and Francis created a witty, intelligent and believable character that broke the mould for female sitcom typecasting. The two main characters in the series could not have come from more different backgrounds; she, an office worker in an advertising agency, came from a middle class background with a snooty mother (Sylvia Kay) and hen-pecked father (John Ringham). He was a turf accountant, whose rough and ready father (Shaun Curry) dealt in scrap metal and drove around in a flashy car playing his wife's (Ann Lynn) favourite rock n' roll sounds. But in spite of, or maybe because of their differences, the two leads sparkled with witty banter and delightful comedic situations expertly crafted by the writer as he drew them into an on-off / love-hate relationship that ended in a 1984 Christmas special, with Penny jetting off to a new job in Paris, with a half-hearted pact to meet Vince three years later at the top of the Eiffel Tower. And there it may have rested had the public not demanded a happy ending. And so, two years later the couple were re-united. Penny was by now a successful businesswoman, no longer the incurable romantic, self doubts behind her and finally over her man -so naturally the series finished with the two of them marrying each other!
Julia Standford (Margaret Lockwood), a well-known English barrister, is called to defend a boy charged with rape and murder - and reveals an evil that shatters the town, the courtroom and the boy. No one has any doubt where the evil lies when the case begins; it rests revoltingly in the character of 18-year old Allan Harper (Cavan Kendall), discovered by the side of a lonely road with the body of 16-year old Ann Laird. He has no defence, admits that he had gone to meet the girl and "cannot remember" clearly enough to say whether he killed her or not. The local police already have on record Ann's accusation of rape against the boy, and examination of the body confirms that she is pregnant. From the moment Julia agrees to take the case, sensing intuitively that Allan is innocent, the question that confronts the viewer is not whether she will get him off, but how. This one-off play, Justice is a Woman, by Jack Roffey and Ronald Kinnoch was adapted for television by stanley Miller and co-starred Iain Cuthbertson, Allan Cuthbertson and John Laurie. Made by Yorkshire Television it was broadcast on 4 September 1969. Two years later, Lockwood returned to the role, although her character's name was changed to Harriet Peterson, in the shorter titled series Justice. Forced to work as a barrister after her husband (William Franklyn) is sent to prison, Harriet is working on the northern court circuit. At the end of the first series she leaves for London, and this is where the story picks up in series two. In her private life Harriet has on-off relationship with Dr Ian Moody (John Stone, at the time Lockwood's real-life partner). The third and final series saw the introduction of the young, high-flying barrister James Eliot (Anthony Valentine). In the final episode, having already been made a QC and now head of chambers, Harriet accepts Moody's proposal of marriage (in real-life, Lockwood and Stone parted company shortly after the series ended). Scriptwriters on the series included Edmund Ward and James Mitchell. (Review: Marc Saul)