TV UK TV

Praying Mantis (ITV 1982, Jonathan Pryce, Cherie Lunghi)

Praying Mantis

In the stodgy eurothriller Praying Mantis (which is set mostly in the Normandy region of France) Professor Paul Canova has recently remarried to the glamorous Vera but he finds himself drawn into an affair with his new secretary Beatrice Manceau. However Beatrice has her own agenda and is also involved in a relationship with a friend of the professors called Christian Magny. Things become decidedly murky when Beatrice learns of Christian’s plot with Vera to murder Paul and make it look like a crime of passion (for which you cannot be tried under French law). Soon Beatrice, Christian and Vera are playing off against each other.

Has the same glossy style over substance look of most of the Portman productions of the 1980’s. The story, written by the excellent Philip Mackie, is highly intriguing and you are kept guessing as to just what is going on as every single character seems to have their own agenda but in the end its all far too convoluted, couple that with some particularly ordinary acting from people who you definitely expect more of and you have something of a misfire.

production details
UK / ITV – Portman / 2×75 minute episodes / Broadcast November 1982

Writer: Philip Mackie / Novel: Les Mantes Religieuses by Hubert Monteilhet / Music: Carl Davis / Photography: John Coquillon / Production Design: Robert Cartwright / Executive Producer: T.L. Donald / Producers: Ian Warren, Dickie Bamber / Director: Jack Gold

cast
JONATHAN PRYCE as Christian Magny
CHERIE LUNGHI as Beatrice Manceau
CARMEN DU SAUTOY as Vera Canova
PINKAS BRAUN as Professor Paul Canova
ANNA CROPPER as Gertrude
FRIEDRICH BON THUN as Insurance Director
ARTHUR BRAUSS as Richter
SARAH BERGER as Madeleine
KEVIN McNALLY as Bernard
DAVID SCHOFIELD as Cafe Waiter
MARGARET WARD as Madame Magny
RICHARD WARNER as Monsieur Magny
JONATHAN BLAKE as Raymond
JOHN BRYANS as Dubreuil
GORDON KANE as Sound Technician
BARBARA YOUNG as Solicitor’s Secretary
DEREK SMITH as Maitre Chardois
DOUGLAS WILMER as Maitre Fleury
PETER BLAKE as Dr Courant
JOBY BLANSHARD as Dr Laporte
CLIVE SWIFT as Dr Faure
DENYSE ALEXANDER as Alice
CAROL GILLIES as Convent Sister
RALPH SCHICHA as Rudi
GERARD HELY as Bank Cashier





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