1 9 6 3 – 1 9 6 5 (UK)
58 x 55 minute episodes
One of the better home-grown British dramas of the 1960s was ATV’s The Plane Makers which told of the life and death struggle in the fictitious Scott Furlong aircraft factory.
Created by Wilfred Greatorex. the series was built around the late Patrick Wymark as John Wilder, the company’s bullying managing director.
Wymark was a gentle man in real life. His wife once said that he was “the most inefficient, dreamy muddler in the world”. Not a ruthless and dynamic tycoon, then.
Wymark himself confessed that he disliked Wilder, calling him “a bastard”. His 12-year-old daughter, Jane, was also unimpressed, claiming the series was boring and adding “I’d rather listen to The Beatles“.
The plane featured in the series was the Sovereign. Viewers wanted to buy it, but inside the 5½ ton aircraft was just scaffolding – no engines, no controls and no room for seats.
The only time it ever “flew” was when it was once towed across Hendon aerodrome in a high wind. It got three feet off the ground and nearly landed on the jeep that was towing it.
After 50 episodes about management and union disputes, ATV boss Lew Grade agreed with Jane Wymark that The Plane Makers was boring. “Who wants machinery and the noise of a factory when they get home at night? ‘Move out of there’ I said”.
So the action switched entirely to the boardroom, where it improved further as The Power Game in 1965.
Sir Gordon Revidge
Sir Gerald Merle
James Cameron-Grant MP