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Doctor At Large (ITV 1971, Barry Evans, George Layton)

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Ok hands up who can tell us which series had episodes written by members of Monty Python and The Goodies and who can tell us which series served, with one of its episodes, as the genesis for TV’s greatest sitcom Fawlty Towers, amazingly it’s Doctor at Large.

Spinning off from the hugely popular Doctor in the House series which featured most of the same cast and characters, the equally popular At Large follows the medical students from St Swithins as they make their way as qualified doctors.

Still working at St Swithins Michael Upton (played by Barry Evans, probably best known as the teacher in Mind Your Language and who would later go on to be found dead in mysterious circumstances in 1997 whilst working as a cabbie after acting work had dried up) and his colleagues the silly ass Dick Stuart-Clark and the goody goody Lawrence Bingham (a role for Richard O’Sullivan far removed from his with it role as Robin in Man About the House) are less naive now but still manage to get into mischief and create mayhem, leaving Ernest Clark’s Professor Geoffrey Loftus (who in our opinion is the real star of the show) to bail them out.

Most of the series was carried by Evans and the early part of the season saw him working with a crochety Doctor Maxwell (played by Arthur Lowe no less) and becoming somewhat romantically entangled with his daughter Sue (the gorgeous Madeline Smith who here, somewhat surprisingly given most of her previous roles, is very demure). Most of the rest of the cast would appear on a semi regular basis with Paul Collier and Dick Stuart-Clark popping up the most often.

Guest stars included the likes of Patsy Rowlands, James Hayter, Jean Kent, Maureen Lipman, Ivor Dean, Roy Kinnear, Freddie Jones, Hattie Jacques, Shirley Cheriton, Christopher Timothy, Tessa Wyatt, Christopher Biggins, Wanda Ventham, John Le Mesurier and Jack Smethurst,

On the 25th December 1971 the show popped up as part of ITV’s annual Christmas time All Star Comedy Carnival (this saw the top comedy shows of the year getting little mini ten minute segments – funnily enough despite being the star Barry Evans failed to appear in this!)

The episode that served as a proto Fawlty Towers? That was “No Ill Feeling”, written by John Cleese, this is the episode that Cleese tried out his Basil Fawlty prototype on with the gang meeting the hotel owner from Hell, totally intriguing to see this for the first time; Cleese actually based the character on a real hotelier he had encountered whilst working on a Python production.

Note: The series continued in 1972 as Doctor In Charge.

production details
UK / ITV – London Weekend Television / 29×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 28 February – 12 September 1971 – Sundays 7.25pm

Writers: Graham Chapman and Bernard McKenna, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, John Cleese, Geoff Rowley and Andy Baker, George Layton (writing as Oliver Fry) and David A. Yallop (not all together of course – Chapman and McKenna were the most prolific followed by Garden and Oddie) / Producer: Humphrey Barclay

cast
Barry Evans as Michael Upton
George Layton as Paul Collier
Geoffrey Davies as Dick Stuart-Clark
Richard O’Sullivan as Lawrence Bingham
Arthur Lowe as Doctor Maxwell
Madeline Smith as Sue Maxwell
Ernest Clark as Professor Loftus
Martin Shaw as Huw Evans
Ralph Michael as The Dean

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TV

Ape And Essence (The Wednesday Play BBC-1 1966, Alec McCowen)

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In Scifi drama Ape and Essence, based on the novel by Aldous Huxley, a group of New Zealand scientists conduct a survey on a Britain ravaged by atomic war 80 years previously.

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 2 Episode 29

cast
Alec McCowen as Alfred Poole
Robert Eddison as Arch Vicar
Derek Sydney as Chief
Jenny Lee as Flossie
Yvonne Antrobus as Young Girl
Sydney Bromley as Craigie
Martin Carroll as Director of Food
Hazel Douglas as Mies Hook
John Falconer as Patriarch
Petra Markham as Loola
Ken Parry as Science Praet
Amanda Reiss as Polly
Jonathan Scott as Int. Priest
Fiona Fraser as Part of Crowd
Ann Mitchell as Shaven-Head
Jacki Salt as Mulatto Girl
Carol Blake as Shaven-Head
Gordon Craig as Part of Crowd
Robert Cude as First Man

crew details
Writer: John Finch
Book: Aldous Huxley
Music: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Producer: Peter Luke
Director: David Benedictus.

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC One
Duration: 1×75 minute episode
Aired From: 18 May 1966

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TV

Plane Makers, The (ITV 1963-1965, Patrick Wymark, Barbara Murray)

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Plane Makers Patrick Wymark

Drama series The Plane Makers took us behind the scenes in the boardroom and shop floor of the Scott Furlong Aircraft Factory. After two seasons the lead character John Wilder took a place on the board of a merchant bank and the series was then renamed The Power Game.

cast
Patrick Wymark as John Wilder
Jack Watling as Don Henderson
Barbara Murray as Pamela Wilder (Seasons 1-2)
Ann Firbank as Pamela Wilder (Season 3)
Reginald Marsh as Arthur Sugden
Alan Dobie as David Corbett

crew details
Creator: Wilfred Greatorex
Producers: Rex Firkin (seasons 1-2), David Reid (season 3)

production details
Country: UK
Network: ITV – ATV
Duration: 57×50 minute episodes
Aired From: 4 February 1963 – 12 January 1965 black and white

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TV

Running Wild (ITV 1987, Ray Brooks, Janet Key)

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Sitcom Running Wild was about the ups and downs of separated couple, Max and Babs, trying to get on with their lives. In season two Max wants to return to his wife but Babs is not so keen.

cast
Ray Brooks as Max Wild
Janet Key as Babs Wild
Sharon Duce as Wanda
Michelle Collins as Stephanie Wild
Peter Amory as Rob
Berwick Kaler as Tom Coleman (Season 1)
Brigit Forsyth as Jenny (Season 2)

crew details
Writer: Philip Trewinnard
Producers: Marcus Plantin (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)
Directors: Vic Finch (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: ITV – London Weekend Television
Duration: 13×25 minute episodes
Aired From: 6 March 1987 – 4 June 1989

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