Francis Durbridge Presents: The Desperate People (BBC 1963, Denis Quilley, June Ellis)

In The Desperate People photographer Larry Martin gets caught up in a dangerous mystery when he investigates the murder of his soldier brother.

Original Radio Times Publicity by the author himself from February 1963… The Desperate People – Francis Durbridge introduces his new six-part thriller serial: A considerable responsibility always rests upon the shoulders of an actor picked to play the lead in a television serial. He must have an arresting personality and be able to keep an audience’s attention from one episode to the next, usually through a series of widely differing situations. It is understandable, therefore, that a writer is always on the look-out for a likely actor to tackle this demanding role. When I was in New York almost two years ago I was very impressed by the performance of Denis Quilley in the Broadway production of the musical play Irma La Douce.

I wrote a letter saying how much I had enjoyed Quilley’s performance and what an excellent leading man he would make for one of my future serials. Having completed The Desperate People at the end of 1962 I was delighted to learn that Quilley was now in England, and was, indeed, excited at the thought of once again playing a straight part in a completely different type of entertainment. The Desperate People is a fast-moving action-suspense story in six episodes and does not feature either Tim Frazer or that even better-known character Paul Temple who appears in my radio serials.

Larry Martin, the main character in the story, is a professional photographer who earns his living by photographing beautiful girls for magazines and commercial advertisements. Larry becomes involved in a series of exciting events following the appearance of his younger brother, Philip, on leave from the army. The story unfolds against a typical English background and much of the location filming was done in and around that delightful town of Arundel in Sussex. During the showing of my previous serials I have frequently received letters from viewers complaining that they have missed a particular episode, and would I be kind enough to send them a detailed synopsis of the episode in question! On one occasion I even had to cable the denouement of one of my serials to a family on the way to Australia. The Desperate People, however, is being screened at a time when the whole family should be able to watch every episode of the entire serial – Sunday afternoon.

This time is considered to be ideal for serial viewers. Although I try to make each serial of mine as different as possible, I am confident that if you enjoyed my previous serials, The Scarf, A Time Of Day, The World Of Tim Frazer, and so on, you will enjoy following the adventures of The Desperate People right through to the end of the last episode.

Denis Quilley: He plays Larry Martin, a photographer with a studio in London. Larry is looking forward to spending some time with his brother Philip, a soldier, who is arriving on leave from Germany. But with Philip comes mystery…

Hugh Cross: He plays Detective Inspector Hyde, a shrewd policeman and one very much dedicated to his job. A couple of unusual and puzzling events in and near London soon bring Inspector Hyde into the life of Larry Martin.

June Ellis: She plays Vanessa Curtis, the smart and attractive owner of the Royal Falcon, a pleasant riverside hotel on the outskirts of Maidenhead. Mrs Curtis manages her establishment well – but many strange things start to happen there.

Gerard Heinz: He plays Wolf Linderhof, a distinguished German doctor who is a guest at the Royal Falcon Hotel. Ostensibly in Britain on holiday, Linderhof is not all that he first seems. What is the real purpose of his visit?

production details
UK / BBC / 6×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 24 February – 31 March 1963

Writer: Francis Durbridge / Production Design: Roy Oxley / Producer and Director: Alan Bromly

Series: Francis Durbridge Presents Season 2 Episodes 1-6

Denis Quilley as Larry Martin
Hugh Cross as Detective Inspector Hyde
Renny Lister as Ruth Sanders
June Ellis as Vanessa Curtis
Garard Green as Douglas Talbot
Barry Jackson as Andy Wilson
Gerard Heinz as Doctor Linderhof
Artro Morris as Arthur
Shirley Cain as Clare Seldon
Nigel Hawthorne as Cliff Fletcher
David William as Thomas Quayle
Clifford Earl as Eddie Meadows
Frances Collier as Peggy Grahame

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.