Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

1960s: Armchair Theatre


The blurb for Volume 4 of dvd pack (4 disks containing 12 plays and reasonably priced) of ARMCHAIR THEATRE says: "Pioneering, immensely influential and often challenging, ARMCHAIR THEATRE was (English) ITV's flagship drama anthology series. Bringing high-quality drama to the viewing public (back in the era when there were just two television channels and in black and white) the series easily demonstrated the network's potential to rival the BBC's drama output, with diverse and powerful plays showcasing some of Britain's most gifted writers and directors. This set comprises 12 plays featuring performances by some of the era's most celebrated and accomplished actors - including Susannah York, Colin Blakely, Ian Holm, Billie Whitelaw, Donald Pleasence, Terry-Thomas, Irene Handl, Patrick Macnee, Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier, among many others, including American import Carroll Baker (my pal Jerry will love this!). This volume includes early plays by both Jack Rosenthal, Ted Willis, Angus Wilson, Alun Owen, Len Deighton and John Hopkins, as well as Terry Southern." 

I just had to get this when I saw it included a production of Oscar's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST which I had not heard of before, from November 1964 (I was 18 then, new in London, in my bedsitter but with no television, so I missed it) with, for me, a dream cast to equal the 1952 Asquith film which of course had the definitive Lady Bracknell in Edith Evans, and with Joan Greenwood and Margaret Rutherford. 
Here in 1964 we have Pamela Brown (whom I like so much in I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING) who is a formidable Bracknell, with the fabulously camp Fenella Fielding (CARRY ON SCREAMING etc) as her daughter Gwendolyn and young Susannah York is a perfect Cecily. Then theres Irene Handl as Miss Prism and Wilfrid Brambell as the Canon. The boys are Patrick Macnee (THE AVENGERS) and Ian Carmichael. Perfect 1964 casting! and it all works a treat - they certainly do Oscar justice. Lovely art nouveau set too for Algernon's apartment. The script had to be tailored to fit a 90 minute slot, but the BBC did the same with their Oscar productions in that OSCAR WILDE COLLECTION, but al the lines we know and love are here ....
Susannah York also features in another play here. I may have to investigate the other 3 volumes as well!


  1. Would like to see this, but I don't think it works in the US (wrong region). How is "Call Me Daddy" on this? It was later adapted as Peter Sellers movie known as "Hoffman">

  2. I'm afraid I love the Asquith movie too much to watch this or any other version, though I did see a fairly minimalist version on stage about 15 years ago with Judi Dench as Bracknell. When I was a member of the 71 Players here in Derry we staged CALL ME DADDY; not one of our finer plays if I remember. The film version was okay and nothing more.