Good Companions, The (ITV 1980, Judy Cornwell, Jan Francis)

Period drama The Good Companions, based on the classic novel by J.B. Priestley, took us into the world of 1930′s touring concert party The Dinky Doos who when the series begins are on the verge of collapse after their manager has done a moonlight flit with his leading lady and taking all their wages with them.

The troupe find their fortunes reviving though with the arrival of four new members including Elizabeth Trant (who following the death of her Colonel father is embarking on fresh adventures and uses part of her inheritance to finance the continuance of the Dinky Doos), Jess Oakroyd (a middle aged northern factory worker who has walked out on his wife following one argument too many and becomes the troupe’s handy man), Morton Mitcham (a comedy performer who has a tall story for every occasion) and Inigo Jollifant (a schoolteacher with a penchant for writing songs).

The quartet become a major part of the troupe and along with ingenue Susie Dean and new defacto leader Jimmy Nunn turn the Dinky Doos into star material.

Brilliant take on Preistley’s comic gem complete with three or four songs per episode and a charming 1930′s backdrop, there is also a fab voice over from Leslie Sands as the narrator sounding very much like Jake Thackery.

The week before the series began there was a special half hour show called On The Road in which Alan Plater spoke to J.B Priestley and his wife Jacquetta Hawkes about the series and Priestley’s writing in general. (Transmission details for this are – broadcast 7 November 1980 – Executive Producer: David Cunliffe, Producer: Leonard Lewis, Director: Mervyn Cumming)

production details
UK / ITV Network – Yorkshire / 9×60 minute episodes / Broadcast: 14 November 1980 – 16 January 1981

Writer: Alan Plater
Novel:J.B. Priestley
Production Design: Alan Pickford, Mike Lond
Songs: David Fanshawe
Producers: David Cunliffe, Leonard Lewis
Director: Bill Hays

JUDY CORNWELL as Elizabeth Trant
JOHN STRATTON as Jess Oakroyd
JAN FRANCIS as Susie Dean
JEREMY NICHOLAS as Inigo Jollifant
BRYAN PRINGLE as Morton Mitcham
FRANK MILLS as Jimmy Nunn
VIVIENNE MARTIN as Elsie Longstaff
JOHN BLYTHE as Joe Brundit
SIMON GREEN as Jerry Jerningham
LESLIE SANDS as Narrator

1. IN WHICH WE MEET THE COMPANY (14 November 1980)
2. MISS TRANT PAYS THE BILL (21 November 1980)
3. SUPPER AT THE ROYAL STANDARD (28 November 1980)
4. ON THE ROAD (5 December 1980)
5. SLIPPIN’ ROUND THE CORNER (12 December 1980)
6. STUMBLING CHRONICLES (19 December 1980)
7. A WIND IN THE TRIANGLE (2 January 1981)
8. SALVAGE WORK (9 January 1981)
9. CURTAIN CALL (16 Janury 1981)

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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.