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Thriller (ITV 1973-1976, Helen Mirren, Donna Mills)

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Thriller was a very well remembered anthology series of twist in the tale stories, mostly written by Avengers/Professionals alumni Brian Clemens. The title is pretty encompassing of all manner of stories, everything from straighforward suspense through to horror and the supernatural. The earlier stories, which tended to be more straightforward are the strongest whilst the later ones tended to be less subtle.

The episodes benefited from a strong title sequence, the infamous fisheye camera shot with a blood red background, there was also typically memorable theme music from Laurie Johnson. Johnson had also composed the theme tune to The Avengers and Thriller’s world actually owes a lot to that environment too, many of the episodes take part in in the kind of idyllic yet sinister English village that the Avengers loved.

A high calibre of UK actors made appearances in the series including the likes of Helen Mirren, Hayley Mills, Robert Powell, Linda Thorson, Jan Francis, John Le Mesurier, Angharad Rees, Dennis Waterman, Ingrid Pitt, Jenny Agutter, Jeremy Brett, Francesca Annis to name just a few, heavy US financing also meant there were plenty of US guest stars including Donna Mills, Bradford Dillman and Caroll Baker.

The above dates refer to the original UK broadcast dates (it being a show of UK origin) but it was usually broadcast first in the USA, dates for which are 18 January 1973 – 4 November 1975 . Incidentally a one off Yorkshire TV play Who Killed Lamb is often cited as being an episode of Thriller, it wasn’t but appeared directly at the end of season two’s run in the UK (and has been included in DVD releases of the series).

THE EPISODES
SEASON ONE
1. LADY KILLER
2. POSSESSION
3. SOMEONE AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS
4. AN ECHO OF THERESA
5. THE COLOUR OF BLOOD
6. MURDER IN MIND
7. A PLACE TO DIE
8. FILE IT UNDER FEAR
9. THE EYES HAVE IT
10. SPELL OF EVIL

SEASON TWO
1. ONLY A SCREAM AWAY
2. ONCE THE KILLING STARTS
3. KISS ME AND DIE
4. ONE DEADLY OWNER
5. RING ONCE FOR DEATH
6. K IS FOR KILLING
7. SIGN IT DEATH

Thriller

A Coffin For The Bride, Michael Jayston and Helen Mirren.

SEASON THREE
1. A COFFIN FOR THE BRIDE
2. I’M THE GIRL HE WANTS TO KILL
3. DEATH TO SISTER MARY
4. IN THE STEPS OF A DEAD MAN
5. COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE
6. THE NEXT SCREAM YOU HEAR

SEASON FOUR
1.SCREAMER
2. NURSE WILL MAKE IT BETTER
3. NIGHT IS THE TIME FOR KILLING
4. KILLER WITH TWO FACES
5. A KILLER IN EVERY CORNER
6. WHERE THE ACTION IS

SEASON FIVE
1. IF IT’S A MAN HANG UP
2. THE DOUBLE KILL
3. WON’T WRITE HOME MOM, I’M DEAD
4. THE CRAZY KILL
5. GOOD SALARY, PROSPECTS, FREE COFFIN
6. THE NEXT VOICE YOU SEE
7. MURDER MOTEL

SERIES SIX
1. SLEEPWALKER
2. THE NEXT VICTIM
3. NIGHTMARE FOR A NIGHTINGALE
4. DIAL A DEADLY NUMBER
5. KILL TWO BIRDS
6. A MIDSUMMER NIGHTMARE
7. DEATH IN DEEP WATER

SPECIAL MENTION
WHO KILLED LAMB (This one off play was inadvertantly broadcast under the Thriller banner at the end of season two despite having nothing to do with the series, since then it has become a sort of unofficial entry in the series and so is included in our run down for the sake of completion).

production details
UK / ITV – ATV / 43×75 minute episodes / Broadcast 14 April 1973 – 22 May 1976

Creator: Brian Clemens / Music: Laurie Johnson

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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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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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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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