Set on the factory floor of fictitious aircraft manufacturers Scott Furlong, The Plane Makers focused on the day-to-day running of a multi-million pound company, and in particular the ambitions of ruthless company managing director John Wilder, as played with convincing gusto by Patrick Wymark. It was a performance that won Wymark many fans as well as an actor of the year award, and prompted a number of businessmen, who had seen the programme, to offer the actor places on the boards of real-life companies.
In stark contrast to the character he played, Wymark described himself as having "No head for business at all, and paperwork would drive me mad. I don't think I've ever been ruthless. I'm too much of a coward." But John Wilder was the man that everyone loved to hate and when the series came to an end after two years with the collapse of the company, Wilder was whisked off to pastures new in the follow on series, The Power Game.
Now knighted and placed on the board of a merchant bank, Sir John Wilder begins to crave excitement and seizes the opportunity to get back into the action as soon as it presents itself. The bank with which Wilder is connected backs a civil engineering firm of which Wilder eventually becomes managing director, much to the opposition of the firm's founder, Sir Caswell Bligh (Clifford Evans) and his son Kenneth (Peter Barkworth). Both Barbara Murray and Ann Firbank starred as Wilder's wife, Pamela (Lady Wilder) and the series was still top of the ratings in 1969 when it was brought to an abrupt end by the sudden death of its star. By that time Sir John was employed by the British Government as a member of the Foreign Office.
Published on January 19th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.