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Love For Lydia (ITV 1977, Mel Martin, Christopher Blake)



Whitney Houston & Bobbi Kristina

Set during the 1920’s Love For Lydia follows heiress Lydia Aspen (Mel Martin) as she enters the hectic party filled world of the flapper, keeping several men at her beck and call as she learns about everything life has to offer; At the heart of the series is Lydia’s relationship with Edward Richardson (Christopher Blake), a would be writer who truly loves Lydia.

Based on the novel by H.E. Bates and with the classic feel of 1970’s Period Drama well to the fore, Love For Lydia is very entertaining, over the course of its thirteen episodes, Lydia changes from being a shy teenager to becoming an arch manipulator of men’s feelings. Blake (who the following year would achieve proper recognition for his role in Mixed Blessings) is very good and watch out for early appearances from Jeremy Irons and Peter Davison as his friends Alex Sanderson and Tom respectively.

As is the way with 1970’s drama we are allowed the luxury of the story unfolding properly over the course of its thirteen episodes and of course plenty of time for footage of the very English country houses and fashions of the 1920’s.

Funnily enough the series actually had something of a troubled production. Famed director Alan Clarke was on board as director for the first episodes and had a plan for the series that would see the first episodes filmed only in wide shots and the final episode filmed only in close ups. London Weekend Television, the ITV region making the drama, disagreed, getting rid of Clarke and producer Richard Bates (the son of H.E. Bates) and refilming the first two episodes. Costing LWT a small fortune in the process.

This was a prestigious production and it was felt the lack of close ups in the first two episodes would turn off viewers. The TV Times of 3 Sep 1977, tying in with the broadcast of the first episode, spoke of the trouble the production faced with scrapping the episodes in May 1976 and costing LWT a £100,000 in the process. The article also mentioned the fact that the location work on the series took some fifteenth months.

production details
UK / ITV – London Weekend Television / 13×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 9 September – 2 December 1977

Writer: Julian Bond / Novel: H.E. Bates / Theme Music: Harry Rabinowitz / Producers: Richard Bates, Tony Wharmby

Mel Martin as Lydia Aspen
Beatrix Lehmann as Aunt Bertie
Rachel Kempson as Aunt Juliana
Michael Aldridge as Captain Rollo Aspen
Christopher Blake as Edward Richardson
Jeremy Irons as Alex Sanderson
Ruby Head as Lily
Christopher Hancock as Mr Richardson
Patricia Leach as Mrs Richardson
Sherrie Hewson as Nancy Holland
Peter Davison as Tom Holland