A new television playwright

One of Britain’s most distinguished novelists, Angus Wilson, signed a contract in Autumn 1959 to write exclusively on television for Armchair Theatre.

His first TV play was After the Show, adapted by the author from his own short story and directed by William Kotcheff with designs by Assheton Gorton.

Starring Jeremy Spenser and Ann Lynn, it told with gentle irony the story of a young man’s first painful brush with love on meeting his uncle’s delectably youthful mistress.

Below the young lover reflects on the capriciousness of women

John Timbers

A ring of cameras converge on the seated figure of Jeremy Spenser

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Depth director

William T. Kotcheff (the ‘T’ stands for Theodore, hence the nickname ‘Ted’) won the 1959 Award for Drama Direction from the Guild of TV Producers and Directors.

In the three years since he came to Britain, this young Canadian has become the most talked-about man in his field.

Disliking the term ‘Method’, he nevertheless demands a depth of characterisation from his actors that drew from one Hollywood star the remark that Kotcheff had awakened his creative imagination for the first time in ten years.

Now actors accept ‘bit’ parts just to work with Kotcheff, in whose productions the dividing line between art and reality is concealed by the kind of vitality he is here infusing in Jeremy Spencer and Ann Lynn for After the Show

John Timbers

No Tram to Lime Street

John Timbers

From luxury yacht in the Mediterranean to a cargo boat in Liverpool docks, Armchair Theatre wrenched viewers back to contemporary Britain with Alun Owen’s first play for television, a warmly rumbustious story of three young seamen on shore leave which was one of the outstanding critical and audience successes in the history of the programme.

William Kotcheff directed, with designs by Voytek; Jack Hedley, Alfred Lynch and Tom Bell were the sailors and Eynon Evans the tough old father who triggered off Lynch’s drinking spree

Accent on age

Although in ABC Television’s activities the accent has always been on youth, the elderly are not forgotten, and three Armchair Theatre playwrights last season reminded viewers that the root of the problem of dealing with the aged usually lies in ourselves

John Timbers

Alun Owen’s second play, After the Funeral, directed by William Kotcheff, centred round a fine old Welshman, Charles Carson and his grandson, Hugh David left, who wanted the old man to provide a genuine Welsh background for his home

Stanley Mann’s Fifth Floor People, directed by John Moxey, showed an old couple, Elizabeth Begley and J. G. Devlin, whose miserable existence in a dingy attic hung like a cloud over the future of their young neighbour downstairs, Billie Whitelaw

Bedford Studios

One of the most important playwrights of 1960 has been Clive Exton, whose first play under an ABC contract was Where I Live.

William Kotcheff directed this moving story of a housewife, Ruth Dunning, whose jealousy of her brother and sister-in-law, Lloyd Lamble and Madge Ryan, led her to destroy her own self-respect when she forced them to take their turn at housing her old father, Paul Curran

American visitors

Warwick Bedford

Among the US stars who came to Britain for Armchair Theatre in 1960 were John Ireland and Ed Degley.

Ireland is seen above with Peter Dyneley and Constance Cummings in The Last Tycoon, a play from the Scott Fitzgerald story directed by William Kotcheff with designs by Timothy O’Brien; Ed Begley was directed in A Phone Call for Matthew Quade by David Greene, an Englishman who has become one of Hollywood’s top TV directors

John Timbers
1960 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM