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Melissa (Channel 4 1997, Jennifer Ehle, Tim Dutton)

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Thriller serial Melissa focuses on war correspondant Guy Foster who returns to England by cruise liner following the death of his wife in a car accident – he falls under the spell of the intriguing Melissa McKensie. This serial was based on a previous 1964 and 1974 version.

Very little remained of the original serial in this lavishly mounted but undeniably overlong homage to the great Francis Durbridge. Intriguingly the whole opening section on the cruise liner was sparked off by a single line of dialogue in the original serial, in fact the whole of the first three episodes work as something of a prequel. The casting was fantastic though with Jennifer Ehle typically gorgeous as Melissa and lots of roles for the Bleasdale repertory company.

production details
UK / Channel 4 – Diplomat / 3×70 minute episodes 2×55 minute episodes / Broadcast 12 May – 20 May 1997

Writer/Executive Producer: Alan Bleasdale / Original: Francis Durbridge / Design: Taff Batley / Costume: Ollie Dicks-Mireaux / Music: Richard Harvey

cast
TIM DUTTON as Guy Foster
JENNIFER EHLE as Melissa McKensie
ADRIAN DUNBAR as Graeme Hepburn
JULIE WALTERS as Paula Hepburn
CHRISTOPHER RYAN as Les Maurice
DIANA WESTON as Hope Magenta
FAITH EDWARDS as Bonnie Foster
NIGEL PEGRUM as South African Doctor
HUGH QUARSHIE as George Bond
ANDREW SCHOFIELD as Charlton Ffoulkes
ALIBE PARSONS as Bonnie’s Mother

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