Man at the Top continues the story of Joe Lampton as created by novelist John Braine and also seen in the movies Room at the Top and Life at the Top. Joe has spent the last 13 years battling his way up the business ladder, he is now pretty wealthy and living in Surrey’s stockbroker belt. As a management consultant Joe knows just how to handle people, especially if they happen to be nubile females.
Joe has quite an antogonistic relationship with his wife Susan who is all too aware of his dalliances with other women but realises that her place in the world is reliant on Joe. He doesn’t have an overly great relationship with his two kids Harry and Kim, but for all his gruff business exterior he actually does show an unexpected level of kindness sometimes to those around him.
Quite a daring series for its era, Man at the Top is lifted even higher by a superb central performance from the charismatic Kenneth Haigh as Joe and an equally strong one from Zena Walker as his wife Susan.
Lots of bed hopping, lots of back stabbing, lots of swearing and some very cool fashions and set design.
The jazz tinged theme tune by Robert Earley is superb too. Guest stars included the likes of Donald Houston, a pre Doctor Who Katy Manning (who ends up having a fling with Joe despite the fact that it is his son Harry who really has the hots for her), Gabrielle Drake, Michael Kitchen, Gareth Thomas, Edward Petherbridge and Mark McManus.
For the second season different actors were brought in for the roles of Harry and Joe’s father in law Abe Brown. The year following the end of the series saw the big screen outing also called Man At The Top this was easily the equal of the series despite carrying only Haigh over from the series.
UK / ITV Network – Thames / 23×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 14 December 1970 – 4 September 1972
Creator: John Braine / Theme Music: Robert Earley / Producers: George Markstein, Jaqueline Davis, Lloyd Shirley
KENNETH HAIGH as Joe Lampton
ZENA WALKER as Susan Lampton
KEITH SKINNER as Harry Lampton (season one)
BRENDAN PRICE as Harry Lampton (season two)
MARK DIGNAM as Abe Brown (season one)
PAUL HARDWICK as Abe Brown (season two)
AVICE LANDON as Margaret Brown
JAMES DONNELLY as Teddy Soames (season one)
SEASON ONE 14 December 1970 – 22 February 1971
1. CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
2. IT’S ALL PERFECTLY TRUE
3. TOO GOOD FOR THIS WORLD
4. THE PRIME OF LIFE
5. JOIN THE HUMAN RACE
6. I’LL DO THE DIRTY WORK
7. THE NAME BUT NOT THE GAME
8. CHANGE PARTNERS
9. …A BIT OF SPARE, NOTHING ELSE
10. FIXTURES AND FITTINGS
SEASON TWO 5 June – 4 September 1972
1. YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND WOMEN
2. A VERY DESIRABLE PROPERTY
3. THE KNACKER’S YARD
4. NOBODY GETS IN MY WAY
5. A MUG LIKE ME
6. WELCOME ON THE MAT
7. HOW TO MAKE A FORTUNE
8. ALL VERY HUSH HUSH
9. DON’T ROCK THE BOAT
10. LIVING LIKE A LORD
11. HIGH STAKES
12. WINNERS ARE LOSERS
13. THE FOREMAN’S JOB AT LAST