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Funland (BBC-3 2005, Daniel Mays, Sarah Smart)

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Funland is set in Britain’s Las Vegas – Blackpool, over the course of one long weekend. It is ostensibly about three different sets of characters whose stories gradually come together with devastating results.

The mark of co-writer Jeremy Dyson’s League of Gentlemen is all over Funland (theres even a role for fellow Gentleman Mark Gatiss as a Dutch taxidermist).

Blackpool may be all bright lights and kiss me quick hats on the surface but Funland reaches for its dark underbelly where nothing is quite as it seems, the series opens with Carter Krantz, played by Daniel Mays, who arrives in Blackpool to avenge the death of his mother. Without a penny to his name and carrying only a fragment of paper containing the words ‘Ambrose Chapel’, Carter tries to uncover the truth about his mother and in doing so is sucked into the most disturbing of mysteries.

We also meet the Woolf family who seem to have a finger in every dodgy pie going from seedy nightclubs to protection rackets, matriarch Mercy (the brilliant Judy Parfitt) is evil and manipulative whilst her son Shirley (Ian Puleston-Davies) is quite possibly mentally deranged, his wife Connie (Frances Barber) is desperate to hang on to the what she sees as her failing marriage.

Lastly there is the Suttons Dudley and Lola (Kris Marshall and Sarah Smart) a young couple who are trying to spice up their flagging marriage with a dirty weekend. Their stay at the Shangri-La soons turns into a nightmare when Dudley puts them three grand in debt thanks to a game of poker. Their decidedly grubby landlords solution is for Lola to take part in some “glamour photography” and pole dancing.

The three strands of the story slowly come together aided and abetted by some brilliantly supporting characters, Roy Barraclough is brilliant as the bewigged, out of his depth town Mayor and Mark Gatiss’s Ambrose Chapfel is a major league weirdo.

Lets be frank, this is definitely not a series for the feint of heart, there is foul language galore, graphic sex scenes, strong violence and several scenes that just make you want to cover your eyes but for all that, the writing, the acting and some brilliant camerawork, not to mention all the subtle and surreal moments, guarantee that it is a must see.

production details
UK / BBC Three / 1×55 minute episode 10×30 minute episode / Broadcast 23 October – 7 November 2005

Writers: Simon Ashdown, Jeremy Dyson / Script Editor: Louisa Hopgood / Music: David A. Hughes / Executive Producer: Kenton Allen / Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg

cast
DANIEL MAYS as Carter Krantz
JUDY PARFITT as Mercy Woolf
IAN PULESTON-DAVIES as Shirley Woolf
FRANCES BARBER as Connie Woolf
EMILY ASTON as Ruby Woolf
KRIS MARSHALL as Dudley Sutton
SARAH SMART as Lola Sutton
BETH CORDINGLY as Vienna Keen
ROY BARRACLOUGH as Oman Van Kneck
SIMON GREENALL as Ken Cryer

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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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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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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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