The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus Eaters

1972 - United Kingdom

"To eat the fruit of the lotus is to lose the desire to return home. But everyone who does has a reason." So Radio Times introduced viewers to The Lotus Eaters, one of the seventies most unusual drama series. 

It debuted on BBC2 on Sunday 23 April 1972 and was the first of a series of escapist dramas from, then, little known writer Michael J. Bird. Lotus Eaters concerned a group of British expatriates living on Crete and ran for two series. The first comprised nine powerful, often tragic, dramas each telling the story of a different member of the cast. Most characters appeared in more than one episode, and the tales were skilfully woven into a continuing sub-plot about the faltering marriage of principals Erik and Ann Shepherd. As one character put it, "You are running away from something... all of you. A cosy little foreign community huddled together in the sanctuary of a Mediterranean island. Why else would you all be living here 1,000 miles from home?" As the series unfolded it became apparent that no one was what they seemed. It was unheard of in those days for a single writer to script an entire series and several writers were engaged. Bird told them the overall concept, they contributed story lines and Bird acted as story editor, making sure the whole thing hung together: which it did beautifully.

The second series consisted of a single six-part story developing and extending the Shepherds' espionage sub-plot. Bird packed in twists at every point, keeping viewers guessing, and the ending was charged with emotion, as police chief Michael Krasakis is forced to banish his friends from Crete. The Lotus Eaters marked the start of a prolific and profitable partnership between Michael J. Bird and the BBC that was to last over ten years and take viewers on exotic adventures to Crete, Cyprus and Rhodes in Who Pays The Ferryman?, The Aphrodite Inheritance, and The Dark Side of the Sun. Following each series tourism soared at the location and Michael Bird became to Mediterranean islands what Delia Smith would become to obscure cookery ingredients.

Published on December 31st, 2018. Written by Dave Rice for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

Anglo Saxon Attitudes

From Angus Wilson's remarkable post-war novel, Anglo Saxon Attitudes has a typically rich and interwoven cast of Wilson characters.

Also tagged Drama Series

Black Arrow

Teenage adventure series. Black Arrow was a lone figure of mystery who protected the poor against greedy warrior barons fighting for power and influence throughout the 15th century Wars of the Roses.

Also released in 1972

Arthur of the Britons

This excellent children's television series was a muddy & realistic version of the King Arthur legend.

Also released in 1972

Another Saturday Night and Sweet FA

Every weekend, long-suffering referee Mr. Armistead wades into the melee to try to teach two sets of testosterone-fuelled maniacs the value of restraint, justice and fair play.

Also released in 1972

Beyond A Joke tv series

Short lived sketch comedy starring Eleanor Bron and John Bird

Also released in 1972

The Brothers BBC tv series

Compelling and hugely successful BBC drama series about boardroom strife and family conflict endured by three brothers.

Also released in 1972

Beachcombers

Immensely popular Canadian series concerning the adventures of a professional lumber salvager and his friends in British Columbia.

Also released in 1972