Home Television Drama Contenders, The

Contenders, The

1 9 6 9 (UK)
4 x 60 minute episodes

This four-part Granada TV miniseries debuted on Friday 5 September 1969 and told of the struggle for power and love of a group of “Potteries people” over a period of 20 years.

The Potteries is that chain of six towns lying along the Trent Valley in North Staffordshire which amalgamated in 1910 to form the city of Stoke-on-Trent. For centuries, workers there were concentrated in two main trades – mining and potting.

The story is told by Joe Shaw (Peter Sproule), the easy-going friend of the two dynamic ‘contenders’ – Bob Lamb (Victor Henry) and Ned Mitchell (Keith Drinkel) – who are old rivals, competing to dominate any circle in which they find themselves.

As they claw their way to success, it is Joe who relates their adventures.

Artist Bob and tycoon Ned try to outdo each other in their respective careers and their efforts to win the love of beautiful model, Myra Chetwynd (Jocelyne Sbath).

Their rivalry begins when they leave school in Stoke: Ned stays in Stoke to build his career while Robert goes to London and a seedy flat in Chelsea. It is in London in 1955 – when Lamb and Mitchell are living it up at an expensive restaurant – that they meet Myra. They vie for her favours – in a contest that will last 20 years!

Bob is obsessed with painting portraits of Myra while Ned uses her in expensive advertising campaigns.

Bob is hailed as an artistic genius after an exhibition and Myra seems bound to marry one of them.

She eventually chooses Bob, who marries Myra and takes her to Paris – but Ned’s wedding present provides her with an independent income and Bob resents her financial independence. Myra also becomes bored with Paris and returns to England where Ned represents power, security and wealth.

Ned Mitchell
Keith Drinkel
Robert Lamb
Victor Henry
Myra Chetwynd
Jocelyne Sbath
Joe Shaw
Peter Sproule
Tom Stocker
Alan Lake
Justin Cartridge
John Bryans
Clifford Parrish
Mrs Shaw
Joan Scott
Tuyet Trinh
Mona Chong
Sandra Duncan
Joseph Holroyd
Celia Rathbone
Betty Huntley-Wright
Rosemary King
Rex Arundel
Alan J. Bartley
John Byron
James Cossins
Estelle Laverne
Julie Goodyear
Arnold Ridley
Jay Walters
John Sterland
Duchess of Harborough
Nita Valerie