Produced by Roderick Graham, these six plays - each with a different writer and director - dramatise the life and times of the 'Virgin Queen,' as played by Glenda Jackson. The first episode for example, The Lion's Cub (17/02/1971), covers Elizabeth's difficult accession to the throne in a Catholic kingdom, and her first meeting with Philip of Spain (Peter Jeffrey), while the last, Sweet England's Pride (24/03/1971) looks at her troubled relationship with the popular Earl of Essex (Robin Ellis). Oliver Elmes designed the title sequence.
Fabian of Scotland Yard
1956, Trinity Productions for BBC
The earliest British series made entirely on film, at a time when all programmes, including dramas, were acted out or repeated live. The thirty episodes starred Bruce Seton as Inspector Robert Fabian, whose real-life cases inspired the stories. Fabian himself appears at the end of each film. This episode, The Executioner, dates from 06/04/1955, and guest stars Peter Swannick, Elspet Gray and, predictably, Noel Howlett as a vicar. The music was composed by Eric Spear, of Coronation Street fame.
1974, ITV/ATV © Granada Ventures
A prestige project for ATV, based on the novels of G.K.Chesterton and intended by Lew Grade as one in the eye for the BBC. Despite Grade's insistence that Kenneth More should take the lead rôle, the star didn't feel he had an image that was priestly enough. But Grade personally telephoned the actor every day for almost a year, to ask, "How's Father Brown this morning?" Finally More gave in and replied: "Bless you, my son." Ten stories were made (26/09/1974 - 28/11/1974); the stirring music was composed by Jack Parnell.
First Among Equals
Who would have thought a Jeffrey Archer pot-boiler would expand into such an entertaining Granada drama series? From 30/09/86 to 02/12/86, viewers followed twenty years in the careers of four aspiring MPs, played by Jeremy Child, David Robb, Tom Wilkinson and James Faulkner, one of whom would finally achieve his dream of becoming Prime Minister. When Raymond Gould (Wilkinson) hit Downing Street, it was grand! John Gorrie & Sarah Harding direct; music by Richard Harvey.
1978, ITV/YTV © Granada Ventures
You could be forgiven for thinking that Flambards is the everyday story of an angry, wheelchair-bound Bruce Forsyth look-a-like. In fact this 13-part Yorkshire TV drama was based on a trilogy of novels by K.M.Peyton, set in the years leading up to World War I. The orphan Christina is sent to live with her Uncle Russell in a decrepit stately home. She grows to love his youngest son William, who nurses a passion for aircraft and dreams of building his own plane. Their love ends in tragedy, but Christina ultimately finds a happy ending at the rambling Flambards. Edward Judd played the glowering uncle, while Christine McKenna and Alan Parnaby were Christina and William. David Fanshawe created the memorable theme tune for John O'Neale to whistle. Four episodes were directed by the legendary Lawrence Gordon Clark.
Fortunes of War
1987, BBC/WGBH Boston/Primetime TV
A luxurious BBC riposte to such Granada treasures as Brideshead Revisited, this seven-parter was adapted from Olivia Manning's novels by Alan Plater. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson starred as newlyweds Guy and Harriet Pringle, the English professor and his wife who flee from the Nazis across Europe to Greece and Egypt. Directed by James Cellan Jones, the fantastic cast includes Charles Kay, Alan Bennett, Ronald Pickup and Robert Stephens. (11/10/87 - 22/11/87)
1991, G.B.H. Films for Channel Four
Alan Bleasdale's fantastic, complex and funny drama about two men who find themselves at odds with each other over their moral and political beliefs, while each indepedently believes he is going insane: an unscrupulous local politician Michael Murray (Robert Lindsay) with tons of emotional baggage, and Jim Nelson (Michael Palin), a principled and well-loved teacher who has an irrational fear of bridges. The world turns upside down for both of them, in seven episodes (06/06/91 - 18/07/91), assisted by Lindsay Duncan, Michael Angelis, Dearbhla Malloy, Julie Walters, Paul Daneman, Tom Georgeson, Daniel Massey & David Ross.
The Human Jungle
1963-1965, ITV/ABC © Canal+
These two thirteen-part series of Saturday night medical dramas starred Herbert Lom as Dr Roger Corder, the Harley Street psychiatrist who valiantly attempts to unravel the complicated ticks that beset his patients. Our clip features Joan Collins, star of S2#1, Struggle For A Mind (20/02/65) as Liz Kross, a young stripper who is so shocked by her intense family problems that she attempts suicide under a tube train. The series attracted many notable guest performers, from established character actors like Margaret Lockwood to newcomers like Rita Tushingham.
Spoofed by both Blackadder II and Emu's Broadcasting Company, this is a fantastic opening title sequence, the perfect scene-setter for all that Roman political intrigue and poisoning. It's all down to the theme tune by Wilfred Josephs, conducted by Marcus Dods, and the venomous reptile slithering across a mosaic rendition of Derek Jacobi, who starred as the emperor Claudius in the twelve-part series (20/09/76-06/12/76). From the very start, this was a hit with the critics and public alike, on both sides of the Atlantic, and its popularity has not waned in the intervening decades.
1987-2000, ITV/Zenith for Central
Internationally-acclaimed series based on the novels of Colin Dexter, starring John Thaw as Chief Inspector Morse and Kevin Whately as Sergeant Lewis. High production values and fine music from Barrington Pheloung were its hallmark: there were 33 films, each lasting 105 minutes, made by Zenith for Central TV, latterly Carlton. The Dead of Jericho was the first (06/01/1987); The Remorseful Day (15/11/2000) was the last, in which Endeavour (Morse's Christian name) was killed off.
Memorable police procedural drama created by Ian Kennedy Martin, focussing on the day-to-day domestic and work challenges that beset a senior female police officer, in the fictional northern town of Hartley. There were two stars: Stephanie Turner played Inspector Jean D'Arblay in series 1-3, while Anna Carteret stepped in for series 4-6 as Inspector Kate Longton; in total there were 88 episodes, running from 30/08/1980 - 31/12/1985, and according to Queer as Folk there's one guy who has every single one of them on tape! I think Derek Goom's theme tune is my favourite aspect of the series, which was another BBC riposte to ITV ideas; namely LWT's The Gentle Touch, which starred Jill Gascoigne. Our clips show a set of titles from a repeat of the 24/11/1984 episode Resolution, preceded by a BBC1 continuity slide; also the shorter titles from an Alexei Sayle spoof which are edited to feature Carteret only.