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Performance: Absolute Hell (BBC-2 1991, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy)

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Black Comedy Absolute Hell was set in a Soho drinking club in a bomb-devestated London in the weeks leading up to the 1945 general election.

Shot on video as part of the BBC’s excellent Performance strand there is a nice little sepia opening leading into colour with Judi Dench supremely blowsy as club owner Christine but the real honours go to Bill Nighy (yet again) as a novelist heavily in debt and having trouble with his boyfriend.

Absolute Hell grew out of Ackland’s 1952 play The Pink Room (also known as The Escapists) which was a major flop at the time, Ackland himself felt it was too watered down and in the 1980’s reworked it, retitled it and turned it into a real gem. Honest, funny and highly entertaining.

production details
UK / BBC-2 / 1×120 minute episode / Broadcast 5 October 1991

Play: Rodney Ackland / Script Editor: Michael Hastings / Music: Jason Osborn / Choreography: Eleanor Fazan / Production Design: Michael Young / Costumes: Judy Pepperdine / Producer: Simon Curtis / Director: Anthony Page

cast
JUDI DENCH as Christine Foskett
FRANCESCA ANNIS as Elizabeth Collier
ANTHONY CALF as Douglas Eden
MOYRA FRASER as Lettice Willis
CHARLES GRAY as Maurice Hussey
BETTY MARSDEN as R.B. Monody
SUSANNAH MORLEY as Fifi
BILL NIGHY as Hugh Marriner
NATHANIEL PARKER as Sam Mitchum
RONALD PICKUP as Siegfried Shrager
PIP TORRENS as Nigel Child
RAY WINSTONE as P.C. Molson
SUSAN PORRETT as Doris
PAUL BIRCHARD as Butch
SYLVIA BARTER as Julia Shillitoe
EILEEN PAGE as Mrs Marriner
GREGORY FLOY as Michael Crowley
WILLIAM OSBORNE as Cyril Clatworthy
SUSAN BROWN as Bill
SHEELAGH FRASER as Madge
BARBARA HICKS as Mrs Pratt
CORDELIA ROCHE, GARY FAIRHALL, MARK GILLIS as Club Members

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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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