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Airline (ITV 1982, Roy Marsden, Polly Hemingway)

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An RAF pilot starts his own airline in the immediate post-war years. In 1946 Jack Ruskin, demobbed after World War II but with flying still in his blood, struggled to find work with civilian airlines and so chanced his arm by founding his own. His partner in the new Ruskin Air Services was forces colleague Peter Witney. Operating with an old Dakota aircraft Ruskin had bought, they aimed to cut themselves a slice of the world cargo market. However, the business had difficulty getting off the ground, in more ways than one.

Ensnared by shady business deals and hampered by bad weather, Ruskin Air Services offered its staff and management an uncomfortable ride, as Jack lurched from one financial crisis to another. But his entrepreneurial spirit was not to be denied. He raised his sights, took on passenger transport and later became involved in the Berlin Airlift. Ernie Cade was the company’s dodgy backer, McEvoy was the company engineer and Jennie Shaw was Jack’s girlfriend. Tony Hatch provided the music.

Roy Marsden, Polly Hemingway (Marsden’s then real-life wife) and the whole Airline ethos was borrowed for a British Airports Authority commercial several years later, a move which brought an unsuccessful lawsuit from the show’s creator, Wilfred Greatorex.

production details
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 9×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 3 January – 28 February 1982

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Creator:Wilfred Greatorex / Music:Tony Hatch / Producer:Michael Ferguson / Executive Producer: David Cunliffe / Aviation Advisor:Dick Millward

cast
ROY MARSDEN as Jack Ruskin
RICHARD HEFFER as Peter Witney
SEAN SCANLAN as McEvoy
POLLY HEMINGWAY as Jeanie Shaw
TERENCE RIGBY as Ernie Cade
CHRISTOPHER GRAY as Albie Clarke
JEANNE WATTS as Mrs Shaw

THE EPISODES

1. LOOK AFTER NUMBER ONE
Flt Sgt Jack Ruskin spends the final days of his wartime flying career bringing demobbed servicemen home from India. Meanwhile Sq Ldr Dickie Marlowe is intent on making his fortune by black market activities.

Dickie Marlowe………ANTHONY VALENTINE
Wing Cmdr…………..WALTER GOTELL
Gray……………….GRAHAM REES

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Writer: Wilfred Greatorex
Director: Michael Ferguson

 

2. BRAVE NEW WORLD
Civvy Street and Jack Ruskin’s battle for survival begins. The anticipated hero’s welcome fails to materialise, and Jack must get to grips with post war life.

Chairman……………RONALD LEIGH-HUNT
Frank Shaw………….PETER SCHOFIELD
Mrs Shaw……………JEANNE WATTS

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Writer: Wilfred Greatorex
Director: Michael Ferguson

 

3. CONSCIENCE
Ruskin’s air services get off to a flying start – until a business deal turns sour, and almost costs Ruskin and his partner their lives.

Alan Shaw…………NICHOLAS OWEN
Sanders…………..PAUL FOULDS
Glover……………STEWART BEVAN

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Writer: Wilfred Greatorex
Director: Michael Ferguson

 

4. TOUCH AND GO
February 1947. Ruskin’s air services is grounded – locked in the icy grip of winter. Enter Ernie Cade with a proposition the men find hard to refuse.

Harrison………….MICHAEL BROWNING
Dr Hadfield……….ROGER HAMMOND
Kellet.,………….MICHAEL WISHER

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Writer: Wilfred Greatorex
Director: Roger Cheveley

 

5. FOOL’S ERRAND
March 1947. Ruskin is broke. His plane is badly damaged and Cade is putting the screws on.

Alby Clarke……….CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Kellet……………MICHAEL WISHER
Maynard…………..RALPH ARLISS

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Writer: Nick McCarty
Director: Roger Cheveley

 

6. CAPTAIN CLARKE PLUS ONE
Spring 1947. With the forces of beaurocracy massing against him in England, Jack finds himself in Malta with no fuel and no co-operation.

Air Commodore Rupert,KENNETH WATSON
Enquiry Chairman…..LAURENCE PAYNE
Snell…………….ANTHONY SCHAEFFER

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Writer: Ray Jenkins
Director: Michael Ferguson

 

7. NOT MUCH OF A LIFE
Stripped of his pilots license and no airline to run. Jack undaunted, embarks on a new money making earner.

Kellet……………MICHAEL WISHER
Alby Clarke……….CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Dr Hadfield……….ROGER HAMMOND

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Writer: Jane Franklin
Director: Peter Duguid, Roger Cheveley

 

8. OFFICERS AND GENTLEMEN
Spring 1948:Dark Clouds are gathering over Jennie and Jack’s wedding plans, the Airline is in deep trouble and Ruskin must make a decision which will affect the lives of everyone around him.

Sfarmer…………….NEIL DICKSON
Kellet……………..MICHAEL WISHER
Alby Clarke…………CHRISTOPHER GRAY

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Writer: Nick McCarty
Director: Roger Cheveley

 

9. TOO MANY PROBLEMS
Autumn 1948: With high financial rewards to be made from the Berlin airlift, Ruskin has nothing to operate. He has lost his license, one of his planes and most of his crew. Can he save himself from disaster.

Malton……………..DUDLEY JONES
Kellet……………..MICHAEL WISHER
Seymour…………….ROGER LLEWELLYN

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Writer: Michael Russell
Director: Michael Ferguson


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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