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Sextet, The: Follow The Yellow Brick Road (BBC-2 1972, Denholm Elliott, Dennis Waterman)

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Similar in tone to Moonlight on the Highway, Follow The Yellow Brick Road sees Jack Black (the name apparently taken from the character in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood) convincing himself that he is in the middle of a TV Play. He is a jobbing actor and ends up seeing a psychiatrist to try and get to the root of his problem.

The central message is seemingly a spiritual one, Jack has lost his faith, the psychiatrist remarks that his condition is not that unusual “after all many people believe God writes the script”.

Broadcast as part of The Sextet, six one of plays, Follow The Yellow Brick Road is quintessential Dennis Potter that carries echoes both past and future and at the time was easily his most personal work to date. There are nods to his love for vintage popular music both in the title and on the soundtrack.

There are also pokes at commercial television with Jack caught up in appearing in tv commercials, including one for Waggytail Din Din dog food!

In later years Potter admitted that he didn’t think much of the play but it actually stands up well and definitely fits into the cycle of plays he was producing at the time.

production details
UK / BBC Two / 1×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 4 July 1972

Writer: Dennis Potter / Costumes: Ursula Reid / Script Editor: Margaret Hare / Production Design: Spencer Chapman / Producer: Roderick Graham / Director: Alan Bridges

Series: The Sextet / Episode 4 (of 8)

cast
DENHOLM ELLIOTT as Jack
DENNIS WATERMAN as Dr Bilson
RUTH DUNNING as Old Lady
BERNARD HEPTON as Colin
NICOLETTE PENDRELL as Nurse
MAUREEN NELSON as Staff Nurse
MICHELE DOTRICE as Veronica
BILLIE WHITELAW as Judy

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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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