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Red Letter Day: Ready When You Are Mr. McGill (S1EP1 ITV Sun 11 Jan 1976, Joe Black)



Ready When You Are Mr. McGill ITV 1976 Jack Shepherd Joe Black

In Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill, another Jack Rosenthal classic, film extra Joe McGill is convinced he is finally going to get his big break when he has two lines to speak in an important TV play.

His scene is being filmed on location and far from being a momentous occasion, the humdrum reality of filming is really brought home to him. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, extraneous noise ruining the take, a hair on the camera ruining the take, the weather ruining the take, then when the conditions are as good as they are going to get Joe fluffs his line.

The ironic thing was that this really was Joe Black’s first speaking role in a TV drama, although he had been an occasional performer on The Good Old Days during the 1960’s.

There was a great two page feature on the play in the week’s TV Times with a picture of the whole cast and crew and it being very difficult to tell who was cast and who was crew. The feature focused on how confusing it was at times, two full crews on location but only one of them actually filming – director Mike Newell remarking that initially every time actor Jack Shepherd (playing the director) would yell cut his crew would stop filming – they had to come up with a new phrase to stand in for it. Newell also said the production was very close to what filming on location is actually like.

The drama was remade in 2003 as a feature length TV Movie, it was originally intended for ITV but premiered on Sky a year later. Bill Nighy starred in the Jack Shepherd role and Tom Courtenay in the Joe Black role.

Ready When You Are Mr. McGill ITV 1976

The actors doing a fabulous job of posing as the crew.

production details
UK / ITV – Granada / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Sunday 11 January 1976 at 10.00pm

Series: Red Letter Day Episode 1 of 7

Writer: Jack Rosenthal / Production Design: Mike Grimes / Director: Mike Newell

Joe Black as Joe McGill
Barbara Moore-Black as Nancy McGill
Diana Davies as Val
Joe Belcher as Gaffer
Mark Wing-Davey as Terry
Jack Shepherd as Phil
Stanley Lebor as Don
Jim Bywater as Geoff
Fred Feast as Kenneth
Peter Russell as Colin
Joyce Kennedy as Deirdre
John Proctor as Milkman
Eileen Davies as Jean
Wenda Brown as Shirley
Marty Cruickshank as Betty
William Hoyland as Bernard
Jill Summers as Mrs Lomax
Frances Goodall as Mrs Stevens
Frank Crompton as Mr Danby
James Lynch as Mr Clegg
Olga Grahame as Mrs Pennington
Teddy Turner as Coach Driver
Chris Canavan as Decorator
Christine Buckley as First Woman
Pat Wallis as Second Woman
Nicola Hutchinson as Deborah
Robert Putt as Location Caterer