Created and produced by Gerard Glaister, there were three series of Secret Army, a wartime drama described by author Fay Weldon as "craft bordering on art". The series was centred around a French café, whose owner and staff aided the local resistance movement in helping Allied airmen to flee the Nazis. If the plot sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen 'Allo, 'Allo! and failed to recognise it as a spoof of Secret Army. The series boasted a fine cast, including Bernard Hepton as Albert Foiret, owner of the Cafe Candide; Angela Richards as his wife Monique; Juliet Hammond Hill as waitress Natalie; and Jan Francis as Lisa Colbert, the activist who set up the Lifeline network. The Nazis were played by Clifford Rose (Sturbannfuhrer Kessler) and Michael Culver (Major Brandt), who was replaced from series two onwards by Terrence Hardiman as Major Reinhardt. The stirring theme tune was composed by Robert Farnon, who had previously worked with Glaister on Colditz.
Crime drama with a difference! Trevor Eve stars as Eddie Shoestring, the Bristol private detective with his own radio show, also featuring Michael Medwin, Doran Godwin and Liz Crowther. Created by Robert Banks Stewart, 21 episodes ran in two series from 30/09/79 - 21/12/80, graced by Sid Sutton's eye-catching title sequence.
The Singing Detective
Widely regarded as Dennis Potter's masterpiece, this six-part Sunday night thriller made its debut on 16/11/1986, a homage to pulp fiction and film noir with a resonant theme tune, Peg 'o my Heart by Max Harris. Michael Gambon starred as Philip Marlowe, a hospitalised writer beset with psoriasis. His journey back to full health becomes almost a hallucinatory experience, as his mind jumbles up events from his childhood and incidents from his novel. TV clean-up crusader Mary Whitehouse vilified episode three's sex scene, in which Binney (Patrick Malahide) romps in the bracken with Philip's mum (Alison Steadman) in front of the young Philip; naturally it became a popular talking point!
Jack Davenport, Andrew Lincoln, Amita Dhitri & Daniela Nardini made their names in this UK riposte to Thirtysomething by Amy Jenkins. (18/03/96 - 07/08/97; 32 episodes). The episode titles spoofed popular film names, eg. Apocalypse Wow, Diet Hard & From Here to Maternity.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Making its first appearance on 10/9/1979, this was the first John Le Carré spy drama adapted for TV. Alec Guinness won a Bafta for his beguiling performance as George Smiley, brought out of retirement to trace a double agent in 'The Circus', his old department. Geoffrey Burgon devised the haunting theme, while the cast list is a stunning roll call of British talent: Ian Richardson, Beryl Reid, Thorley Walters, Ian Bannen, Hywel Bennett, Bernard Hepton, Michael Jayston... AND MANY MORE!
1971-1974, ITV / LWT © Granada Ventures
Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins devised this series, the story of an affluent London family and their servants at 165 Eaton Square. Marsh also took the rôle of house maid Rose. The show was initially disliked by LWT executives, who would have shelved it had there been no other finished programmes available to fill the schedule. However, the show became an instant hit with viewers and a massive worldwide success, running to 68 episodes. As butler Hudson and housekeeper Mrs Bridges, Gordon Jackson and Angela Baddeley were the stars, with David Langton and Rachel Gurney as their employers, the Bellamys. Another notable cast member of series one was Pauline Collins, joining the household 'on trial' as a maid in the first episode.
1971 & 1974, LWT
A technicians' strike which affected the whole ITV network in 1971 caused the first six episodes to be recorded in monochrome. As the series achieved success, episode one was remounted in colour and given a new ending that would enable it to match in with later episodes. However the budget did not permit a remount of the other five, which exist today only in their original b/w form. Our second clip shows one of the many versions of the theme tune recorded by composer Alexander Faris, a sedate waltz to contrast with the more jaunty theme song, What are we going to do with Uncle Albert?
1983, ITV / Thames © Fremantle Media
A real cracker! This six-part crime drama was Lynda la Plante's first TV script, written with the encouragement of Euston Films producer Linda Agran. The cast was comprised of unknowns, but all gave excellent, gritty performances, chief among them Ann Mitchell who starred as Dolly Rawlins, plus Maureen O'Farrell, Fiona Hendley and Eve Mottley. Four widows revive their late husbands' plan to rob a security van in a London underpass, after the men were killed in the first attempt. It's just brilliant.
1985, ITV / Thames © Fremantle Media
Never planned, but created by popular demand two years later. Dolly's 'usband 'Arry ain't dead after all, and he wants a share of the booty! The stripper Bella was played in these six episodes by Debby Bishop, since Eve Mottley had been found dead of a suspected drugs overdose.
Created by Troy Kennedy Martin, there were thirteen series of police drama Z Cars over 16 years, named after its Ford Zephyr patrol vehicles. A total of 799 episodes were made, of which 467 are missing believed wiped. As the constables, Colin Welland, Brian Blessed, James Ellis, Joseph Brady and Jeremy Kemp became household names, plus Stratford Johns as Det. Chief Inspector Barlow, and Frank Windsor as Det. Chief Supt. Watt. Clips show the first episode, Four of a Kind (02/01/1962) and A Place of Safety (24/06/1964), the series three episode repeated in 1992 as part of a BBC2 race issues season.