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The Challengers (ITV 1972, Colin Blakely, Michael Gambon)

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The Challengers ITV 1972 Colin Blakely

Six part drama series The Challengers was from the pen of the always excellent Edmund Ward. The series followed two very different politicos – an older Labour man and a young Conservative.

In the TV Times of 1 Jan 1972, series creator Edmund Ward talked about the genesis of the show. His original idea went back to 1953 when the landlord of the bedsit where he was living wouldn’t register his tenants on the electoral roll in order to avoid tax. Ward complained but was told nothing could be done.

Later after the success of The Main Chance and Grady the idea took real form, the difference between the Westminster world and how effective the average MP is in their own constituency.

The setting was the town of Andersley where Sam Brodie (the brilliant Colin Blakely) was the labour man and John Killane (an up and coming Michael Gambon) the tory. Brodie is Andersley to the core with 15 years worth of experience behind him. Killane though is the new boy – a self made businessman turned politician. Killane’s business partner was Peter Chapman (played by William Gaunt). Annie MacKinnon and Cliff Lambert were the political agents for the pair.

The Challengers Ep 3 History Doesn't Pay The Rent. William Haunt and Hilary Dwyer.

William Gaunt as Killane’s business partner Peter Chapman and Hilary Dwyer as his ex-wife Janie…

production details
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 6×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 3 January – 7 February 1972

Writer: Edmund Ward / Executive Producer: Peter Willes / Director: Marc Miller

cast
Colin Blakely as Sam Brodie
Michael Gambon as John Killane
William Gaunt as Peter Chapman
Joanna Van Gyseghem as Annie MacKinnon
Richard Hampton as Cliff Lambert
Bill Dean as Ernest Dewhurst
Margaret John as Elizabeth Brodie

THE EPISODES
1. THE TOMORROW BUSINESS (3 Jan 1972)
2. WHO’S BEEN EATING MY PORRIDGE? (10 Jan 1972)
3. HISTORY DOESN’T PAY THE RENT (17 Jan 1972)
4. WHOSE LAW? WHOSE ORDER? (24 Jan 1972)
5. THE SALESMAN (31 Jan 1972)
6. WHAT ABOUT ENGLAND? (7 Feb 1972)