TV UK TV

Private Lives (BBC-1 1976 with Penelope Keith and Alec McCowen)

UK / BBC One / 1×92 minute episode / Broadcast 28 December 1976 @ 9.45pm

Writer: Noel Coward / Costumes: Robin Fraser-Paye / Script Editor: Alan Shallcross / Production Design: Stuart Walker / Producer: Cedric Messina / Director: John Gorrie

In this period comedy a divorced couple, Elyot and Amanda, have both remarried new partners but on their honeymoon discover that they have adjoining hotel suites. Despite their many quibbles the pair realise that they can’t actually live without each other and run away together.

Almost wholly set in a gorgeous 1930’s apartment, the two hotel rooms and their adjoining balconies, Private Lives has plenty of choice dialogue and works as a great showpiece for the four players. There is maybe a little too much shouting at times as the couple descend into arguments and you can see where the plot is going almost from the start. Rightly regarded as one of Coward’s key works though. Watch out too for a small role (the only other cast member beside the four principles) for the gorgeous Francoise Pascal as Elyot’s maid. The vintage style titles were excellent too.

cast
PENELOPE KEITH as Amanda Prynne
ALEC McCOWEN as Elyot Chase
DONALD PICKERING as Victor Prynne
POLLY ADAMS as Sibyl Chase
FRANCOISE PASCAL as Louise