TV UK TV

Armchair Theatre (ITV 1956-1974)

Armchair Theatre Logo

Hugely important ITV anthology of single plays, Armchair Theatre really came into it’s own under the leadership of Canadian producer Sydney Newman who brought the same sense of kitchen sink realism to the small screen that was then currently cutting a swathe across British cinema and theatre.

Via Newman there was a steady stream of contemporary productions featuring work from the likes of Alun Owen (who would go on to write the screenplay for the first Beatles movie A Hard Days Night) and Robert Muller.

In 1963 the BBC poached Newman and his story editing team of Irene Shubik and Peter Luke – an act which would pay dividends for the BBC with the arrival soon after of The Wednesday Play and then Play For Today. Shubik would also take charge of the superb BBC sci-fi/horror anthology Out of the Unknown.

The series was produced by ABC until their franchise ran out in 1968 and Thames took up the reigns.

In 1960 and then 1964-1965 there were 34 episodes that were broadcast as Armchair Mystery Theatre. 1959 saw episodes broadcast as Summer Armchair Theatre.

1967 saw five episodes broadcast under the title Armchair Thriller (no relation to the late 1970’s anthology of the same name, this ran from 22 Apr – 20 May 67)

1973 (10 episodes 11 April – 4 Dec) saw a run of half hour episodes that were broadcast under the title Armchair Thirty. In 1974 (28 May – 26 Nov) there were six shot on 16mm film productions broadcast under the Armchair Cinema banner.

One episode ran foul of the ITA (Independent Television Authority). Three of a Gas Ring made in 1959 for broadcast in 1960 was banned because of it’s portrayal of an unmarried mother. This was the first TV play to be banned by the ITA.

production details
UK / ITV – ABC – Thames / 452 episodes of varying lengths but mostly fifty minutes / Broadcast 8 July 1956 – 9 July 1974

THE EPISODES
SEASON ONE
6. BLACK LIMELIGHT (30 Sep 56)
71. WOLFPACK  (13 Apr 58)

SEASON TWO
72. WHERE I LIVE (10 Jan 60)

SEASON ELEVEN
10. THE ESCAPE CLUB

SEASON TWELVE 
2. FOOT IN THE DOOR (13 Jan 69)
8. EDWARD THE CONFESSOR (24 Feb 69)

SEASON THIRTEEN 
8. WARM HEART, WARM FEET (22 Sep 70)
14. THE DOLLY SCENE

SEASON FOURTEEN
6. DETECTIVE WAITING (14 Sep 71)

SEASON FIFTEEN
9. THE BREAKING OF COLONEL KEYSER (17 Oct 72)





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