‘Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collectors’ item in its own way’not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, and suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare”
Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone had a cult following like few shows this side of Star Trek, and ever since the program’s cancellation in 1964, the die-hards had been begging for new episodes. They wouldn’t get them during Serling’s lifetime, but the king of eerie TV satisfied the masses with an all-new anthology series in 1970. He called it Night Gallery, and while it wasn’t exactly the same thing as The Twilight Zone’in fact, it was considerably more horror-tinged’it proved that there were plenty of chilling stories left to tell.
A made-for-TV Night Gallery movie in 1969 introduced the format: Serling once more served as host, introducing each segment of the show by walking the guests at home through a gallery of creepy paintings. Each had a story to tell, and every one was either darkly comic or just darkly dark. Like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery rose and fell on those individual stories, and there were a number of highlights. Among them:
‘Eyes’ – Directed by a young Steven Spielberg and starring Joan Crawford, this segment from the pilot movie has Crawford as a blind woman desperate to buy or steal a working pair of eyes.
‘Pickman’s Model’ – In late 19th century Boston, a woman becomes intrigued by a strange painter and his horrible works.
‘A Fear of Spiders’ – A callous food writer turns to one of the recipients of his callousness when he finds a terrifying spider in his sink.
‘The Return of the Sorcerer’ – Vincent Price plays a sorcerer looking to unravel the secrets of an Arabic manuscript, hoping to find clues about his brother’s mysterious death.
‘Rare Objects’ – A gangster with a price on his head thinks he’s willing to pay anything for safety, but then, he doesn’t know what ‘anything’ might entail.
As an anthology, Night Gallery had a cast that changed with every segment, and again like The Twilight Zone, the players included several famous faces: Crawford, Price, Leslie Nielsen, Diane Keaton, Edward G. Robinson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ozzie Nelson, Sally Field and many more. Initially, the series was part of NBC’s Four in One anthology hodgepodge, but by the fall of 1971, Night Gallery went solo.
The show’s popularity ebbed after the 1971-72 season’partly due to a shortening from one hour to a half-hour, partly due to conflicts between Serling and the producers and network’and after one more season of original episodes, the Night Gallery was closed. It may never have gained the same cult status as its Rod Serling predecessor, but Night Gallery lives on today, still chilling after all these years.
USA / NBC – Universal – Jack Laird / 94 episodes of varying length / Broadcast 16 December 1970 – 14 January 1973
Creator: Rod Serling / Producer: Jack Laird
Ape And Essence (The Wednesday Play BBC-1 1966, Alec McCowen)
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
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
Writer: John Finch
Book: Aldous Huxley
Music: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Producer: Peter Luke
Director: David Benedictus.
Network and Production Companies: BBC One
Duration: 1×75 minute episode
Aired From: 18 May 1966
Plane Makers, The (ITV 1963-1965, Patrick Wymark, Barbara Murray)
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.
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
Creator: Wilfred Greatorex
Producers: Rex Firkin (seasons 1-2), David Reid (season 3)
Network: ITV – ATV
Duration: 57×50 minute episodes
Aired From: 4 February 1963 – 12 January 1965 black and white
Running Wild (ITV 1987, Ray Brooks, Janet Key)
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.
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)
Writer: Philip Trewinnard
Producers: Marcus Plantin (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)
Directors: Vic Finch (Season 1), Derrick Goodwin (Season 2)
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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