Master of Arts

1961 | United Kingdom

This single play, a televised version of a popular farce was not actually shot in a television studio, but from The Playhouse, Salisbury, the same stage where it made its debut. Salisbury Playhouse was a garrison theatre during the war. On its bills then were famous names like Laurence Olivier, James Mason, Edith Evans and Flora Robson. 

In 1961 the Salisbury Arts Theatre Company got the chance to bring to television a play that had packed out the house for several months. Master of Arts was a modern comedy by William Douglas Home that also enjoyed a six-month run in London's West End. At a famous - but unnamed - public school, a housemaster is in love with a girl without realising that her young brother is a member of his house. The boy takes a photograph of his sister in the housemaster's arms. 

Using the "awkward" photograph as a lever, he gets the housemaster's reluctant approval to go racing at Ascot. The housemaster then has to cover up for the boy. 

David Garth, a familiar face on television back in the 1960s (having appeared in Probation Officer, Emergency-Ward 10, Boyd Q.C. and The Larkins) played the housemaster. The sister of the blackmailing schoolboy was played by Nancy Herrod, a member of the company for two years. David Hemmings played the boy with the camera, five years before his most famous role as a photographer in what many people consider to be the definitive 'swinging sixties' movie, Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blowup." 

Master of Arts was an ABC Television Production in conjunction with Southern Television. It was produced for the stage by Oliver Gordon and adapted for television by Peter Alexander. Director was Michael Mills. Shown as part of ITV's 55 minute Comedy Matinee strand on Sunday 12 March 1961.   

Published on April 3rd, 2020. Written by Based on original TV Times article and adapted for Television Heaven.

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