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Head of the Class (ABC 1986-1991, Howard Hesseman, Billy Connolly)

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After his turn as America’s favorite burnt-out DJ on WKRP in Cincinnati, Howard Hesseman returned to TV as Charles Moore, a struggling actor and substitute teacher assigned to take over the Individual Honors Program at New York’s Millard Fillmore High School. Series co-creator Rich Eustis had actually worked as a New York City substitute while hoping to become an actor, incidentally.

Watching down on Charlie from above (meaning the office, not heaven) were Dr. Harold Samuels, the school’s principal who constantly put pressure on the kids to win academic contests, and assistant principal Bernadette Meara. And though the kids didn’t seem to socialize with other students in the school, they didn’t all necessarily get along with each other either. Darlene stood out as preppy snob, who often rejected the advances of tough guy genius Eric Mardian. Darlene’s male counterpart in snobbery was Alan Pinkard; Maria Borges was the grade-obsessed over achiever who eventually transferred to a performing arts high school; the prototypical nerd was Arvid Engen, and Arvid’s best pal was science jock Dennis Blunden.

Simone was the quiet, literary-minded girl (who eventually had an unlikely flirtation with Eric), and Sarah was her artistic friend. Around for the first three seasons were Indian student Jawarhalal Choudhury and twelve-year-old prodigy Janice Lazarotto, who eventually left to attend Harvard. Joining the class in its later years were Vicky Amory, Alex Torres, De’voreaux White, Aristotle McKenzie, Jasper Kwong and inner-city student T.J. Jones.

The kids may have been geniuses, but they didn’t always know which bubbles to darken on that great Scan-Tron test sheet we call life. There were plenty of disappointments—both academic and romantic—but Mr. Moore was always there to play counselor as much as he played teacher. There were lessons on tolerance (after a mock court session Eric dubbed “Twelve Angry Nerds”), academic integrity (after that same bad boy Eric invented a story to win a journalist’s prize), and above all, learning to get along. The kids had a thing or two to teach Charlie as well, by the way: In one episode, Charlie got a big ego deflation when, after grilling each of the girls in the class as to who had developed a crush on him, he discovered it was really Dennis’ computer.

Head of the Class

Billy Connolly took over the lead toward the end of the show’s run.

After the fourth year, Mr. Moore, who had finally landed an acting gig, left his job as a teacher and was replaced by Billy MacGregor, played by comedian Billy Connolly. After the show’s cancellation in 1991, Connolly reprised the character on the short-lived 1992 sitcom Billy.

Head of the Class was notable for its diverse cast made up of characters of different ethnicities, and in 1988, it became the first prime time series to film as episode in the Soviet Union when the kids took on their Soviet counterparts in a battle of wits. In a nod to Glasnost, the match ended in a draw. Once more, the brainiacs point the way to a better future for all of us…

production details
USA / ABC – Eustis Elias Prod./ 112×25 minute episodes 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast 17 September 1986 – 15 January 1991

Creator/Executive Producers: Rich Eustis, Michael Elias / Producer: Alan Rosen

cast
Howard Hesseman as Charlie Moore (1986-90)
William G Schilling as Dr Harold Samuels
Billy Connolly as Billy MacGregor (1990-91)
Jeannetta Arnette as Bernadette
Michael DeLorenzo as Alex (1989-91)
Dan Frischman as Arvid
Robin Givens as Darlene
Khrystyne Haje as Simone Foster
Tony O’Dell as Alan
Lara Piper as Viki
Tannis Vallely as Janice (1986-89)
Jory Husain as Jawaharlal (1986-89)
Leslie Bega as Maria (1986-89)
Rain Pryor as T J (1988-91)
Brian Robbins as Eric
Kimberly Russell as Sarah
Dan Schneider as Dennis
De’voreaux White as Aristotle
Jonathan Ke Quan as Jasper (1990-91)

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TV

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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TV

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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TV

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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