Vice Versa

1981 | United Kingdom

Although not particularly a new theme now, the original tale of one person swapping bodies with another was written in 1882 by F. Anstey, the pseudonym of Thomas Anstey Guthrie, author of many novels of fantasy and humour. Hugely popular in its day, Vice Versa, the tale of a father becoming his son and the son becoming the father, has now been serialised on British television 3 times. 

Dick Bultitude wishes that he didn't have to return to school, and having made his wish over a stone talisman that his Uncle Marmaduke gave him he is magically transformed into his dad, Paul, a no nonsense business man. The body swap has consequences for both father and son. Paul (as Dick) finds it difficult to adapt to school life and earns a reputation with his fellow pupils as both a sneak and a coward, whilst Dick (as Paul) almost ruins his father's business. 

These are problems that they both have to deal with at the time-as well as later when they are returned to their own bodies. The first small screen version Vice Versa or A Lesson to Fathers (2 episodes) was broadcast in 1953 on BBC television and starred a young Anthony Valentine as Dick (later his father, Paul) and George Benson as Paul (later his son, Dick). The next version came along in 1961, Vice Versa: A Lesson to Fathers (3 episodes) starred Graham Aza as Dick and William Mervyn as Paul. Michelle Dotrice also starred and this version was adapted for television by C.E. Webber, who played a part in realising the concept of Doctor Who when it first came to the small screen in 1963. 

The most recent version, Vice Versa, made by ATV in 1981 starred Peter Bowles (Paul), Paul Spurrier (Dick) and Iain Cuthbertson (Budgie, Charles Endell Esq.) as schoolmaster Dr. Grimstone. This version received much publicity at the time due to the fact that both adult actors were well known figures on British TV and Bowles in particular was at the height of his fame in To The Manor Born, which began its third and final series during the seven-episode run of Vice Versa.


Published on February 11th, 2019. Written by Noel Onely for Television Heaven.

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