Fellow Traveller (BBC Drama, Ron Silver, Imogen Stubbs)

Period drama Fellow Traveller, made as part of the Screen Two anthology, took us to the 1950’s at the height of the McCarthy witch hunts when American screenwriter Asa Kaufman (Ron Silver), having been blacklisted in Hollywood, arrives in Britain to work on shows such as The Adventures of Robin Hood. He has trouble getting over the suicide of his best friend, a star actor who had also been targeted by the Witch hunts. He begins a relationship with Sarah Aitchison (Imogen Stubbs).

Thoughts of the McCarthy Witch-hunt era was clearly in the air around this time as the following year Robert De Niro made a movie called Guilty By Suspicion in which he also played a screenwriter targeted by McCarthy.

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Senator John McCarthy was instrumental in ruining the careers of many Hollywood stars during the late 1940s and 1950’s. His claim that stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Dolores Del Rio and John Garfield amongst many others as well as thousands of ordinary citizens were secret communists who could cause trouble for America created widespread disruption to the film industry at the time. Many of those named were blacklisted and unable to work in Hollywood. More than a few fled overseas to work under assumed names. Such was Asa’s fate here.

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HBO co-funded the production and it aired on that network first on 4 March 1990.

Series: Screen Two Season 7 Episode 4

Cast: Ron Silver as Asa Kaufman; Imogen Stubbs as Sarah Aitchison; Daniel J. Travanti as Jerry Leavy; Hart Bochner as Clifford Byrne; Julian Fellowes as D’Arcy; Richard Wilson as Sir Hugo Armstrong; Doreen Mantle as Landlady; Jonathan Hyde as Sheriff of Nottingham; Alexander Hanson as Robin Hood; Katherine Borowitz as Joan Kaufman; David O’Hara as Ronnie Wilson; Angus MacInnes as Lawyer; Nicholas Jones as Inspector

Writer: Michael Eaton / Music: Colin Towns / Production Designer: Gavin Davies / Producer: Michael Wearing / Director: Philip Saville

UK / BBC Two – BFI – HBO / 1×95 minute episodes / Broadcast 10 February 1991

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.