1 9 8 0 (UK)
9 x 60 minute episodes
Yorkshire Television produced this musical adaptation of J B Priestley’s best-selling novel about the trials and tribulations of a struggling concert party on a tour of British seaside resorts in the 1930s.
Judy Cornwell played the initially somewhat severe but wealthy spinster, Miss Elizabeth Trant, who rescues the Dinky Doos – a stranded and penniless concert party – when they are down.
After many years of looking after her aged father, Miss Trant decides to put the large house and its possessions up for sale when Colonel Trant finally passes away. Shunning well-intentioned but interfering advice from those around her, and fascinated by the radical and refreshing views of her young nephew Hilary, Miss Trant seizes the opportunity to break out of her tranquil Costwolds world and see “Life” before it is too late.
With a newly-purchased motorcar and a little nest egg from the sale of her father’s house, she sets off alone on a tour of English cathedral cities. But fate takes a hand when she meets the Dicky Doos, bringing a lot more excitement to her life than dear Miss Trant could have imagined in her wildest dreams.
Meanwhile, Jess Oakroyd (John Stratton), a discontented carpenter from Bruddersford, is another refugee from the boredom and frustrations of life. He runs into Miss Trant on the road and mends her broken down car, Joining her on the next stage of her journey to Rawsley, they come across the Dinky Doos who are sitting glumly contemplating their plight in a gloomy station cafe.
The little company has been deserted by their manager who ran off with the pianist and what little money there was in the kitty.
Against the advice of her relatives, Miss Trant decides to refloat the troupe, now known as ‘The Good Companions’. Oakroyd becomes their odd-job man.
Key members of the Good Companions are Inigo Jollifant (Jeremy Nicholas); comedian Jimmy Nunn (Frank Mills); conjurer Morton Mitcham (Bryan Pringle); song-and-dance man Jerry Jerningham (Simon Green); singers Elsie Longstaff (Vivienne Martin), Courtney (aka “Joe”) Brundit (John Blythe) and Joe’s wife (Jo Kendall) – referred to as Mrs Joe – and singer-comedienne Susie Dean (Jan Francis).
The troupe ultimately disbands after a sabotaged performance. Jerry marries Lady Partlit (Margaret Courtenay), a fan of the Companions; Susie and Inigo become successful and famous in London; Miss Trant marries a long lost sweetheart; Jess Oakroyd emigrates to Canada and the other performers carry on with their life on the road.
Debuting on Friday 14 November 1980, the nine-part musical drama was adapted for television by Alan Plater. Leslie Sands narrated.
Joe (Courtney) Brundit