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Classic TV Revisited Dr Kildare Classic TV Revisited Dr Kildare


Classic TV Revisited: Dr Kildare



Popular 1960’s medical drama Dr Kildare starred Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey.

Impetuous young Dr Kildare worked at Blair General Hospital, under the watchful eye of sage old hand, Dr Leonard Gillespie.

Leo was a father figure?
The craggy-faced stethoscope-wielder became a mentor to the young buck. But it wasn’t all one way traffic. Modern man Kildare helped the old boy to embrace new ideas.

And the patients?
He certainly didn’t embrace them — that would be unethical.

Kildare’s conception?
A union between two blond gods with a bent for medicine — judging by his Adonis appearance.

The dream doc was actually created by Max Brand, a wordsmith who as well as writing fiction, was a war correspondent for Harpers. He died covering the war in Italy in 1944.

Kildare began as a series of movies in the ’40s starring Lew Ayres, before being revived as a TV series almost 20 years later.

Kildare’s debut?
Star Trek’s William Shatner was originally cast to play the dishy young intern at Blair General. But the man who became Kirk jumped ship to star in show For The People.

Beamed up was he?
Steady. In stepped unknown Richard Chamberlain who was the 36th person to audition.

Classic TV Revisited Dr Kildare

Richard Chamberlain, clean cut heart throb.

A star was born?
He became a massive heart-throb, with 35,000 fan letters a month and street mobbings. He even hit the charts with the theme song.

A hit?
At its peak the show, which ran for five series and 191 episodes, was drawing 15m in the US.

Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey. Guest stars included James Mason and Jack Nicholson.

And a decent story?
Kildare was regarded as being fairly true to life with its portrayal of the ethical and moral dilemmas facing docs. There were two to three tear-jerkers an episode.

Kildare’s demise?
Inevitably with so many episodes, the draw of the series began to ebb and US network NBC pulled the plug in the autumn of 1966.

A killer blow for Chamberlain?
A relieved Chamberlain admitted he was exhausted by the part. “I had worn out every facet,” he said.

A flash in the bedpan was he?
Far from it. He went on to movies such as Man In The Iron Mask and in the ’80s was a hit in TV mini-series The Thorn Birds.

Distinguishing features?
Golden hair that not even a nuclear explosion could dishevel, impeccable bedside manner, a black pencil tie, people being ill.

Do say?
You’re a miracle worker.

Don’t say?
Patient: “Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains.” Doctor: “Pull yourself together.”

Not to be confused with?
Carry On Doctor, Doctor Finlay’s Casebook, Dr Who and County Kildare.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

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