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Old Men At The Zoo, The (BBC-2 1982, Robert Morley, Stuart Wilson)



In the epic and totally brilliant The Old Men at the Zoo it is the near future and Simon Carter the newly appointed secretary of London Zoo (not admin type secretary but overseer of the zoo’s business activities) is more than a little concerned about aspects of his job. Especially given that the zoo is in major trouble over the death of a giraffe keeper. Meanwhile Britain is on the verge of a major war with the major Arabian oil producers and it looks as though a nuclear attack on London could happen at any time.

As the threat of all out nuclear war grows stronger the zoo becomes a kind of barometer for the state of the nation and Carter is asked by the Home Secretary Lord Godmanchester to move the animals out to Wales (most of which Godmanchester now owns!), whilst they are tooing and froing over this, the expected nuclear attack occurs….

Move forward two years later and the elderly board of the zoo are now in Control of the country!

Shot on location video this is a staggering piece of work, brilliantly acted, with a mesmerising script that has some very important things to say about the world we live. Hasn’t dated a bit and just as much to say, only maybe the method of delivery has changed.

production details
UK / BBC-2 / 5×55 minute episodes / Broadcast 15 September – 13 October 1982

Writer: Troy Kennedy Martin / Novel: Angus Wilson / Script Editor: Betty Willingale / Music: Simon Rogers / Production Design: Christopher Robilliard / Costumes: Joan Ellacott / RICKIE trained by Dorothy Squires / Wild Animals handled by Jimmy Clubb / Producer: Jonathan Powell / Director: Stuart Burge

Stuart Wilson as Simon Carter
Marius Goring as Emile Englander
Andrew Cruickshank as Mr Sanderson
Toria Fuller as Martha Carter
Barry Stanton as Strawson
Jan Harvey as Harriet Leacock
Robert Morley as Lord Godmanchester
Maurice Denham as Edwin Leacock
Robert Urquhart as Sir Robert Falcon
John Phillips as Mr Langley-Beard
Richard Wordsworth as Matthew Price
Shelagh Fraser as Diana Price
Priscilla Morgan as Mrs Purrett
Jacquie Cassidy as Maryon
Kipper Ellis as Violet Carter
Alan Renton as Reggie Carter