1 9 6 8 (UK)
6 x 60 minute episodes
This ITV comedy series from LWT presented “seven plays for summer evenings” on Sunday nights in August and September 1968.
Writers included Willis Hall, Alun Owen, Fay Weldon, Ernie Gebler and Rhys Adrian and the plays ranged from gentle irony to hearty farce.
The first play, A Little Milk of Human Kindness, revolved around mild-mannered Maurice Chamberlian (Hamilton Dyce), a laboratory manager who was the underdog of the family. Maurice daydreamed of injecting a little milk of human kindness into the lives of his wife Vita (June Jago), his mother-in-law, Edith (Margery Withers), his son, Rodney (Derek Steen), daughter Letty (Sally Thomsett) and Rodney’s girlfriend, Nan (Rosemary McHale).
By coincidence, an accidental discovery at the laboratory had produced a formula that could suppress aggression and add a touch of well-being to those who take it. Maurice decides to dose his family.
Anything But The Woods began ominously with two young men (Tom Clegg and Madhar Sharma) – one black, one white – having a conversation about getting birds under blankets. When they learned the crowd had gathered not around an ambulance and smashed car, but had collected to see the lads’ own special tree felled at the direction of foreman Milo O’Shea, their bantering ceased and indignation took its place.
The chief from the Council (Jack Watling) who had ordered the tree felling was hailed by the young black man and we were treated to a promising scene in the Corporation car with Jack Watling and his lady friend Adrienne Corri bending over backwards to be racially tolerant.
The play developed with a plot by the young men to cut down Jack Watling’s tree, substituted by a last-minute plot by Milo O’Shea to paint all the boss’s windows black. The points to note were hammered home: authority is blind and untouched by human considerations; the working man can now get his own back but only by reckless sabotage; black people are less disturbed by racial intolerance than white liberals. The occasional laughs were mostly for the urbane performance of Jack Watling who can play a slightly thick character better than most.
Running throughout The Ticket was the story of a stolen Cup Final ticket, taken as an afterthought by a thief (Dermot Kelly) when he robbed the house of a young man (Barry Justice).
The ticket changes hands a number of times, and along the way, it buys time for a lover, creates peace in a quarrel, causes a fight, allows the proceeds to back a horse, plays its part in a business deal, turns up in a nightclub and is bought by a keen-eyed tout (Norman Rossington). Also in the cast were George Sewell, Gabriele Drake and John Barrie.
Time For The Funny Walk had husky, outrageous Liverpudlian Mulcathy (Alun Owen) – a boisterous, quarrelsome Irish rebel without a cause whose self-stated mission is to “shock you out of your groove” – rampaging to London to appear on a late-evening television programme called Late Night Omnibus.
Since he had wreaked havoc on a previous television appearance, the programme host Henry (Jeremy Brett) meets him at Euston Station to watch over him, curb his antics, limit his drinking, and deliver him in one piece to the TV studio.
Other cast members included Terence Brady, Geraldine Moffatt, Valerie Van Oft, Georgina Simpson, Ross MacManus (father of Elvis Costello) and Diana Queseekay.
Henry the Incredible Bore – starring Michael Gough, Gwen Cherrell, Lawrence Harvey and Anthony Bate – saw Henry’s odd relationship with his boss take a strange turn for the better. With his wife’s approval, of course. Henry, in fact, turned out to be quite a nice chap. It was his boss, who – in the end – turned out to be the bore.
Fay Weldon’s Ruined Houses had a wife of 15 years, amiably acting as daily char to the young dolly bird her husband was about to divorce her to marry. The play starred Renny Lister, Maria Charles, Clovissa Newcombe, Patience Collier, Derek Godfrey, Jacqui Chan, David Weston and Veronica Doran.
A Little Milk of Human Kindness | The Ticket | Time for the Funny Walk | Henry the Incredible Bore | Ruined Houses | Anything But the Woods