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First Lady, The (BBC One 1968-1969, Thora Hird, James Grout)

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The First Lady BBC 1968-1969 Thora Hird

Comedy drama series The First Lady, created by Alan Plater, told stories of no nonsense northern independent councillor Sarah Danby. This being the 1960’s the BBC were concerned to show no political bias and although Sarah is clearly influenced by Barbara Castle, a prominent Labour MP of the time, she is very much an independent. Sarah being independent was actually much better for the series, it meant she was only serving the best interests of the community and not a party.

When the series began Sarah had only just been elected onto Furness Borough Council having won the spot that was once held by her late husband. Of course Sarah wants to make a difference in Furness and does her best to do so. She often butted heads with George Kingston, Alderman and leader of the Conservative opposition – as well as owner of one of Furness’s most prosperous building companies.

Lots of familiar faces popped up over the course of the two seasons including the likes of George A. Cooper, Peter Barkworth, Derek Benfield, Ronald Hines, Carolyn Moody, John Collin, Brenda Bruce, Paul Greenwood, Geoffrey Bayldon, Coral Atkins, Glyn Owen, Terence Rigby, John Paul, Dennis Waterman and Ken Jones.

Besides Plater, scripts were written by actor Leslie Sands along with BBC drama regulars Don Shaw, N.J. Crisp, Gerry Davis, Elwyn Jones and Terence Dudley (who also directed a few episodes too.)

Much loved Thora Hird had begun her film and TV career back in the 1940’s and had become a household name thanks to a starring part in sitcom Meet The Wife which ran from 1964-1966. She carried on working (with a long running role in sitcom Last of the Summer Wine) until her death at the age of 91 in 2003.

One episode from season two, All In a Good Cause, was actually made for season one but not broadcast in that first run of episodes.

production details
UK / BBC One / 39×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 7 April 1968 – 17 July 1969

Creator: Alan Plater / Original Idea: Alan Plater, Philip Levene / Script Editor: Gerry Davis / Producers: David E. Rose, Terence Dudley

cast
Thora Hird as Sarah Danby
James Grout as George Kingston
Robert Keegan as Will Tarrant
Henry Knowles as Tom Danby

THE EPISODES
SEASON ONE 7 April – 5 September 1968
1. LASH OUT (7 Apr 1968)
2. THE GLASS HAMMER (14 Apr 1968)
3. MINISTRY APPROVAL (21 Apr 1968)
4. UPSET (28 Apr 1968)
5. CLEVERCLOGS (5 May 1968)
6. THE FIRST STONE (12 May 1968)
7. A LITTLE GOODWILL (19 May 1968)
8. MRS. WHATEVER (26 May 1968)
9. THE NOBLE TRADITION (2 Jun 1968)
10. COUNTER CLAIM (9 Jun 1968)
11. KING OF FURNESS (16 Jun 1968)
12. YES, BUT WHO AM I? (23 Jun 1968)
13. PAST INDEFINITE (30 Jun 1968)
14. VACANCY (11 Jul 1968)
15. WORKED OUT (18 Jul 1968)
16. A TIME OF FEAR (25 Jul 1968)
17. YOU TOO CAN CHANGE THE WORLD (1 Aug 1968)
18. PRINT AND BE DAMNED (8 Aug 1968)
19. THE BIGGER THEY COME (15 Aug 1968)
20. LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR (22 Aug 1968)
21. RISK INVOLVED (29 Aug 1968)
22. A VERY DEAR FRIEND (5 Sep 1968)

SEASON TWO 20 March – 17 July 1969
1. I’M TALKING ABOUT US (20 Mar 1969)
2. THIS HURTS ME MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU (27 Mat 1969)
3. FANCY MAN (3 Apr 1969)
4. NEIGHBOURS (10 Apr 1969)
5. BLOW HOT, BLOW COLD (17 Apr 1969)
6. THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO STREET (24 Apr 1969)
7. I DON’T LIKE HIM (1 May 1969)
8. TO HELL WITH PURITY (8 May 1969)
9. THE MAN FROM DOWN UNDER (15 May 1969)
10. ALL RIGHT FOR OTHER PEOPLE (29 May 1969)
11. RADIO SARAH (5 Jun 1969)
12. IN SHOCKING TASTE (12 Jun 1969)
13. ALL IN A GOOD CAUSE (19 Jun 1969)
14. AND THEY CALL THAT PROGRESS (26 Jun 1969)
15. A BANNER WITH A STRANGE DEVICE (3 Jul 1969)
16. A CROSS FOR SARAH (10 Jul 1969)
17. THE WHIPS ARE OUT (17 Jul 1969)