With it’s groovy theme written by Paul McCartney (released as the B-Side of Band on the Run trivia fans) Zoo Gang is prime era ITC entertainment at its best.
Unusually for this type of show it only ran for 6 episodes. Normally such shows would run for at least 26 eps – maybe the producers were worried about the longevity of some of the cast, all of whom were nearing or past retirement age.
Like an action adventure version of Dad’s Army the show follows the escapades of a former world war II resistance unit who find themselves getting back together when one of their number spots a former Nazi adversary and they decide to bring him to justice.
The gang’s codenames are all based on zoo animals , hence the title of the show, John Mills heads up the cast as Tommy “Elephant” Devon, whilst the other members of the gang are Brian Keith as Stephen “Fox” Halliday, Barry Morse as Alec “Tiger” Marlowe, Lilli Palmer as Manouche “Leopard” Roget who was actually the widow of Claude “Wolf” Roget. Her son, policeman Lt Georges Roget, is also on hand for much of the action.
Each member of the team is also an expert at various things, so Fox is the electronics whizz whilst Tiger has the mechanical know how.
Like any good ITC series much of the action in Zoo Gang takes place in Europe. This time with quite a bit of location filming as opposed to the oft derided backlot, back projection. There are also the great guest stars such as the gorgeous Ingrid Pitt in episode two’s Mindless Murder. There are also appearances from Peter Cushing, Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan from Blakes 7) and Philip Madoc (all of whom feature in episode fours The Counterfeit Trap).
Plotwise, apart from the opening episode which sets the scene nicely, they are all pretty much stand alone and could have come from any ITC series such as The Saint or Man in a Suitcase. It’s a hugely enjoyable series though and has that glossy, shot on film look that mark out all the ITC series from their competition.
UK | ITV Network – ITC – ATV
RUNNING TIME: 60 minutes | NUMBER OF EPISODES: 6 | AIRDATES: 5 April – 10 May 1974
CREATOR: Paul Gallico | THEME MUSIC: Paul and Linda McCartney | PRODUCER: Herbert Hirschman
BRIAN KEITH as Stephen ‘Fox’ Halliday
JOHN MILLS as Tommy ‘Elephant’ Devon
BARRY MORSE as Alec ‘Tiger’ Marlowe
LILLI PALMER as Manouche ‘Leopard’ Roget
SERETTA WILSON as Jill Burton
MICHAEL PETROVITCH as Lt Georges Roget
1. REVENGE: POST DATED (5 Apr 1974)
2. MINDLESS MURDER (12 Apr 1974)
3. AFRICAN MISFIRE (19 Apr 1974)
4. THE LION HUNT (26 Apr 1974)
5. THE COUNTERFEIT TRAP (3 May 1974)
6. THE TWISTED CROSS (10 May 1974)
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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