The Sin Shifter

1962 | United Kingdom

 A lively comedy set in a remote corner of Australia rounded off Armchair Theatre's summer season in 1962. 

Bruce Stewart, a New Zealander who wrote and acted for many years in Australia before coming to Britain in 1956, chose Wangaree, a dusty, down-at-heel town in the North-West, as the scene for his play The Sin Shifter. Wangaree, once a prominent pearling centre, has run out of oysters. Its population, a hotch-potch of white Australians, Japanese and natives, has dwindled. But the town hall still stands. And Stewart's gusty story tells of the struggle for its possession between a pearl fisherman and a Roman Catholic priest. 

The pearler, Manny Barnes (Patrick Wymark), wants to convert the hall into a gambling den. But Father Brady (James Maxwell), a newcomer to the town, has secured it on a seven-year lease and wants to set up a church there. It looks as if Manny's hopes of making the hall into a casino, with girls and over-proof whisky, are doomed. Unless, that is, he can outwit and discredit the priest, which, with the help of his girlfriend Rose (Lisa Peake), he promptly sets out to do. 

For Patrick Wymark, who up until that time, had built his reputation primarily on Shakespearean comic roles, the Australian part was as good as a holiday. "I've never had such a good change," he told the TV Times back in 1962. Of his role as the priest, James Maxwell said: "He's human and not very good at his job. But he is devoted to it." The cast also included Harry Towb, Gordon Sterne, John Tate, Bettina Dickson, Key Wayne, Ruth Porcher, and Denise Barker. Alan Cooke directed and the producer was Sydney Newman. 

Broadcast on Sunday 16th September 1962 at 935pm and lasted 60 minutes.   

Published on April 4th, 2020. Based on original TV Times article and adapted.