Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime
Based on Agatha Christie's short stories, this charming but effete series brings to life the exploits of newlyweds Prudence and Tommy Beresford, (Francesca Annis and James Warwick) who set up a private detective agency in London. Together they tackle everything from stolen jewels to poltergeists and, in this episode (30/10/1983), poisoned chocolates... The second clip dates from 1983; a promo for the series theme tune available on a 45rpm single, voiced by LWT announcer Ruth Anders.
Bouquet of Barbed Wire
TV discovered incest through Andrea Newman's 1976 drama - 'a modern Greek tragedy' to critics. Frank Finlay played Peter Manson, a wealthy publisher living in Surrey, stricken with jealous passion when his daughter Prue (Susan Penhaligon) married a sexy young American (James Aubrey). A similarly sex-drenched sequel, "Another Bouquet", followed in 1977.
The 26-part Budgie was made initially in b/w, the result of the 1971 colour strike which also ensured that the earliest episodes of Upstairs Downstairs were recorded in monochrome. This titles clip is from a colour episode (28/05/1971) and what a memorable sequence it is, showing the eponymous hero (Adam Faith) grasping desperately for cash only for it to be blown away or slip through his fingers. Budgie's writers were Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, creating the chirpy cockney straight out of jail who could never seem to do anything right. Charlie Endell (Iain Cuthbertson), a tough wheeler dealer, pressganged Budgie into doing all his dirty work for him. The clip includes a 1989 continuity announcement from LWT's 21st birthday weekend.
Dempsey and Makepeace
Watching the titles of this 90 minute pilot special, Armed & Extremely Dangerous, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a dodgy Michael Winner re-make of Farewell My Lovely..
Dempsey and Makepeace
The pilot proved a hit, and lead to three popular series, of which these are the titles of series one. The music is fast-paced but the speed of picture cutting seem quite as quick as it ought to be, yet the logo graphics have a real swish about them. Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber starred, respectively, as a brash New York police lieutenant paired with a blonde English detective, blessed with a Cambridge degree and a titled daddy. Welsh charatcer actor Ray Smith played their work-worn guv'nor Spikings.
Enemy at the Door
Some have opined that this series, about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands in World War II, was ITV's answer to the hit BBC series Secret Army and Colditz. It starred Alfred Burke as Major Richter, with Simon Cadell, Clifford Rose, Bernard Horsfall and Richard Heffer, plus Anthony Head in his first TV role. The two runs of this series were graced by a haunting Wilfred Josephs theme tune, subsequently released as a 45rpm single.
The Gentle Touch
Jill Gascoine starred as D. I. Maggie Forbes in this Friday night police drama. Possibly because LWT's other cop show of the time, The Professionals, was made entirely on location on film and swallowed the action budget, The Gentle Touch was slow-paced and intended to show an officer's domestic life. Furthermore, since Gascoine couldn't drive, Maggie never participated in a car chase and was always seen at the wheel of stationary vehicles! This example is from the final series in 1982. The titles and theme tune are cool and gutsy, and there's a memorable shot of Gascoine's gruff co-star William Marlowe smashing a hole in a window to glare through it.
It's 1942 and RAF fighter pilot Jimmy Porter (Alfred Lynch) has been shot down over France. He soon finds himself on the run from the Nazis (played icily by Philip Madoc and Robert Hardy) in the company of a British agent Vincent (Peter Barkworth) and resistance fighter Nina (Cyd Hayman) who knows vital information about the movement in France. It is an elaborate production, but to modern eyes the use of OB video as a shooting format makes it look cheap, even though it would have been ground-breaking in its time. The title sequence makes great use of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and it is all very stirring stuff.
Mapp and Lucia
An hilarious adaptation of E.F.Benson's novels, made by LWT for Channel Four in 1985 and 1986 as two series of 5x50mins. The episodes are quite simply SUPERB, boasting definitive performances by Geraldine McEwan, Nigel Hawthorne and Prunella Scales. Directed by Donald McWhinnie, they are a heady mix of OB video and multi-camera studio interiors. The music is quite brilliant. The rostrum work in the artwork title sequence is perhaps a little wobbly but the heart-warming music more than makes up for it.
John Thaw starred in this cop drama, which was blessed with fey title music and chic police procedural animation, all graph paper and typewriters. Made in 1982, the series remained on the shelf until transmission from 31/08/1984. The second clip comprises an ITV Autumn launch trailer from that year. Notice its use of the standard ITV logo, which remained in use until 1989's corporate identity launch.
Another crime series, this one devised by those Avengers maestros Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens. They had intended the stars to be Clive Revill, Anthony Andrews and Jon Finch. Then Gordon Jackson became available, Finch dropped out to be replaced by Martin Shaw as Doyle, causing the similar-looking Andrews to be dropped in favour of Lewis Collins as Bodie. Rough and macho, but without the sophistication of Thames TV's The Sweeney, this series finally ended in 1983. An honourable mention for the theme tune by Laurie Johnson: it is superb!
The Talking Head
This famous early play by Jim Allen starred Michael Craig and Edwin Richfield, but an impressive performance by John Thaw is its centrepiece. He plays a young TV script-writer who becomes totally dissatisfied with his lot. In a very memorable scene he lets rip in front of the studio crew of his own police drama, and what he has to say about people who work in television seems especially pertinent in this day and age...
1971-1974 (Sagitta Productions)
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 (Sagitta Productions)
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?
Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
The first British TV foray into Agatha Christie territory since an occasional BBC play series of the 1940s. LWT had initially wanted to produce a Miss Marple story, but this clashed with a movie production of The Mirror Crack'd and so Christie's 1934 novel 'Why Didn't They Ask Evans?' was chosen for adaptation instead. James Warwick and Francesca Annis played amateur investigators Bobby Jones and Lady Frances Derwent, alongside guest stars of the calibre of Eric Porter and Sir John Gielgud. Critics feel that the production owes more to LWT's own period dramas like Upstairs Downstairs than to Christie.
Within These Walls
This intense series of hour-long dramas ran for two years, and starred Googie Withers as Faye Boswell, governor of Stone Park Women's Prison. Her attitude matched her hair-do: firm and fair! Critics scoffed at the idea of a "glamorous granny" governor, but Withers did her research, visiting HMP Holloway and other institutions, where she found all the governors well groomed. The haunting theme tune is by Denis King. Within These Walls was a big hit in Australia, where it inspired Prisoner, Cell Block H. This clip is from series two's second episode, 17/01/1975.
The Adventures of Black Beauty
1972 (London Weekend International)
The original TV adaptation of the classic novel by Anna Sewell, developed by Ted Willis. Judi Bowker (later Stacy Dorning), William Lucas, Charlotte Mitchell and Roderick Shaw starred. In total 52 episodes were produced across 2 series.
1970 (London Weekend International)
Hapless eleventh-century magician Catweazle transports himself and his toad Touchwood into our time. Chaos ensues when he applies his medieval outlook to twentieth century. Geoffrey Bayldon is just brilliant in the title rôle, the one he chose after turning down the BBC's invitation to succeed Patrick Troughton as Doctor Who. The series was created by Richard Carpenter, also responsible for The Ghosts of Motley Hall (Granada) and Robin of Sherwood (HTV). The first series ran from 15/02/1970 to 10/05/70 and saw Catweazle befriending young Carrot (Robin Davies), whose father (Charles Tingwell) ran a farm. Both the music and titles animation are gorgeous, showing us Catweazle falling through time.
1971 (London Weekend International)
It's a change of scene for Catweazle when he transports himself back to the 1970s in series two (tx 10/01/1971 to 04/04/71). He arrives in the grounds of a large mansion, home to young Cedric (Gary Warren) and his parents, where the magician adopts an abandoned railway station as his home. In a truly poignant series finale, Catweazle manages to return home for good, floating into a sunset in a hot air balloon.
The BBC has taken three shots at Richmal Crompton's story over the years, and ITV had a bash in 1956 as well, but this 1975 production appears to be the most popular, arguably because of Bonnie Langford's performance as Violet Elizabeth Bott and her lisping catchphrase, "I'll thcweam and thcweam until I'm sick!" The titles credit both Pat Gavin and Terry Griffiths with graphic design; one imagines that Griffiths created the animation of William crashing through the LWT ident, before Gavin took over for the remainder of the sequence, but I'm prepared to be corrected on this hunch! (tx 06/02/1977-22/01/1978, two series & a special)
Latter-day Gerry Anderson science-fiction puppet series. The Terrahawks are led by Dr 'Tiger' Ninestein who is assisted by Mary Falconer, Hiro, Hawkeye, Kate Kestrel and the robot Zeroids. Together they battle against the hideous Zelda who is bent on destroying all humanoid life in the galaxy. The inventive title sequence animation was created by Kevin Davies, who had previously assisted Rod Lord in generating the book sequences in the BBC's Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.