1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 2 (UK)
23 x episodes
Man at the Top picked up the life of Joe Lampton who we had last seen in the film Life at the Top (1965) with Laurence Harvey as the get-on-at-all-costs nasty piece of work.
Kenneth Haigh became the man TV viewers loved to hate, with Zena Walker playing his long-suffering wife, Susan.
Thirteen years on from his marriage to the pregnant Susan – a condition of his continuing promotion by Susan’s father and his then boss, Mr Brown – Joe Lampton has a new home in Surrey’s stockbroker belt and a career as a management consultant.
As pushy and hard-headed as ever, he will go to any lengths to keep a grip on his position.
Joe remains married to Susan and they now have two children, but his attentions rarely remain fixed and he does not fail to take advantage of all that his status and connections bring within his reach.
This inevitably includes the attractive and available women he encounters.
A single event, however, causes Joe to re-assess his life – with far-reaching consequences.
This intense, compelling drama series was created and co-written by John Braine, and George Markstein (Callan) features among the producers.
Raw language and sexual byplay upset some viewers, and the businessman’s pressure group Aims Of Industry objected to the ‘myth’ the show perpetuated that men could get to the top “on waves of wine, women and marrying the boss’s daughter”.
Zena Walker said men like Joe made her sick. But by 1972, 20 million viewers had made the series ITV’s top show, and Kenneth Haigh was to top viewer’s polls as Best Actor.