1 9 6 5 – 1 9 6 9 (UK)
430 x 25 minute episodes
Set in a fictional East Anglia overspill town called Angleton (which was really Haverhill in Suffolk), this series centred around the newly-moved-from-London Cooper family; Vivienne (played by Australian leading lady and former singer, Maggie Fitzgibbon), husband Ellis (Alan Browning), and their children Phillip (Jeremy Bulloch), 16-year-old Maria (played by Judy Geeson before she became a star) and long-haired Lance (Raymond Hunt).
There was also a glum gran (Gladys Henson) who seemed riveted to the sofa, and Wendy Richard (Miss Brahms/Pauline Fowler) as the Cooper’s 20-year-old cockney neighbour, Joyce Harker.
All the pains and pleasures of living on a new housing estate were brought into focus, from the loneliness and boredom that such an existence brings to comprehending the local, rural lifestyle.
Ellis Cooper was the shop superintendent at Eden Brothers, a computer components firm.
British Industrialists complained that the chairman was a crook, the managing director an ass, and the image of the British industry had been sullied.
The serial was predominantly about class and the interactions between factory workers, management and the long-suffering locals.
Storylines switched between work and home: minor industrial disputes, frustrated love affairs across class boundaries and boardroom skullduggery were all regularly revisited.
Mary Whitehouse however, gave the show a commendation for being “morally sound”.
Ellis died of a heart attack in December 1967 (because Alan Browning had grown bored with the role), and the widowed Viv was due to have a ratings-busting wedding to new character Charles Turner (Neil Hallett).
When the storyline was changed to a whirlwind romance and an off-screen wedding in New Zealand instead, Maggie Fitzgibbon quit. A new family – the Robertsons – were introduced in January 1968. Only a few months later, the show was cancelled, despite the BBC remarking that it was still “at its peak”.
The Newcomers aired twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The four producers during the life of the programme were Verity Lambert, Morris Barry, Ronald Travers and Bill Sellars.
J G Devlin
P G Stephens