1 9 7 4 (UK)
7 x 60 minute episodes
This Granada production was a serialisation of Stan Barstow’s 1968 novel about the passions bubbling (rather sluggishly) beneath the surface of a quiet Northern town.
Unmarried alderman Tom Simpkins (Alan Badel), a wealthy factory owner and ex-mayor, had a married mistress of 17 years – lorry driver’s wife Norma Moffat (Diana Coupland) – and visited her suburban semi whenever the coast was clear. He also had an unacknowledged daughter, Shirley (Victoria Williams). Meanwhile, his secretary, Andrea (Frances White), was about to succumb to the know-all charms of married schoolteacher Philip Hart (Michael Williams, pictured below).
There was a lot of sighing, and a lot of silence too. No bugger said owt if they could possibly say nowt. Perhaps that was the “raging calm” of the title? In fact, when Simpkins Senior died at the start of the first episode, his son said; “House’ll be quiet”.
“Quieter,” corrected his daughter, wasting no words.
Every single female character took a turn at sobbing (except a few who bit their lip instead because they were in a public place), and when Barstow wanted to make a man remarkable, he made him a talker.
Philip Hart talked. Dear God, how he talked, especially at Andrea: “There is good natural material in you but you work from too many inbuilt assumptions”.
He and the other main male characters were pretty masterful and talked loudly at their women – so perhaps the sobbing was understandable.
While the Tom and Norma affair was well-acted and credible, Philip was wholly unbelievable as he gave his lectures to Andrea: “Lying would have debased any feeling I have for you . . . I have not reached that point of desperation yet. Does my honesty upset you too?”. Andrea didn’t answer. She was busy biting her lip . . .
It was all a bit Peyton Place but, apparently, many women identified with the seven-part serial and its sobbing sisters.
Next of Kin | A Guarantee of Happiness | A Friend of the Family | A Time to Judge | The Banner of Loyalty | Missing Persons | A Vote for Progress