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Play For Today: Red Shift (BBC-1 1978, James Hazledine, Lesley Dunlop)

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Hard to explain succinctly just what the incredible Play For Today: Red Shift is truly about, shifting in time across a thousand years and linked by a hill in Crewe called Mow Cop and by the relationship of a young couple.

Tom and Jan are a young couple about to be seperated, Jan is leaving to start her training as a student nurse in London but the pair agree to meet once a month in Crewe (the middle point between the two) and the pair begin to spend time at Mow Cop Hill where Tom discovers an ancient axe head in the ruins of a house there. Tom is completely stifled by his parents and has been avoiding a physical relationship with Jan and is distraught when he discovers Jan has had an affair whilst on holiday in Germany.

Meanwhile in Roman Britain in the same area a group of soldiers pillage a village and take a young girl prisoner, taking her to the top of Mow Cop, a sacred place to the villagers. One of the soldiers Macey, has a stone axe which he believes allows him to go “beserk”. The young girl is abused by the soldiers but gains her revenge by poisoning them.

Moving forward to the time of the Barthomley Church siege during the English Civil War the stone axe is discovered by Thomas Rowley who believes it is a “Thunderstone” created by a lightning strike. When the village is attacked by Irish rebels Thomas and his wife Madge are among the few survivors, they head to Mow Cop where they build a house and place the “Thunderstone” in the chimney as a good luck charm.

Based on Garner’s own 1973 novel Red Shift is quite superb, typically Garner-ish in its dealing with time and objects as well as astrology and the cosmos. The title alludes to both the fact that Tom wants to be happy and feels he needs a “Red Shift” instead of feeling blue and also the killing that goes on in the two other time frames.

production details
UK | BBC-1

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes | NUMBER OF EPISODES: 1 | AIRDATE: 17 January 1978

WRITER: Alan Garner | MUSIC: Phil Ryan | PRODUCER: David Rose | DIRECTOR: John Mackenzie

Season Eight Episode Thirteen

Play For Today: Red Shift

cast
TOM’S TIME
STEPHEN PETCHER as Tom
LESLEY DUNLOP as Jan
STELLA TANNER as Tom’s Mother
BERNARD GALLAGHER as Tom’s Father
MICHAEL WOLF as German

THOMAS’S TIME
CHARLES BOLTON as Thomas Rowley
MYRA FRANCES as Madge Rowley
JAMES HAZLEDINE as John Fowler
ROBERT BROWN as Rector
FREDDIE FLETCHER as Randal
MICHAEL ELPHICK as Thomas Venables
BEN HOWARD as Officer

MACEY’S TIME
ANDREW BYATT as Macey
VERONICA QUILLIGAN as Girl
KEN HUTCHISON as Logan
ANTHONY LANGDON as Magoo
DARAGH O’MALLEY as Face

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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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