The 1959-60 season of Armchair Theatre, the only ITV [drama anthology] programme presented every week by the same company, was a notable success with audiences. Thirty-two of the thirty-seven plays featured in TAM’s Top Ten ratings, one gained the highest viewing figure to date for an ITV play and another became the only play ever to achieve first place in the Top Ten
Producer Sydney Newman’s determined work among authors also resulted in a record proportion of new writing; eighteen of the plays were specially commissioned for the programme, among them the first original work for TV by Angus Wilson, Alun Owen and Harold Pinter. Of the remainder, all but seven were by British writers, and several were adaptations made for ABC
The season opened with The Scent of Fear, specially written by Ted Willis and directed by John Moxey, one of ABC’s ablest and most experienced directors, whose cigar is seen left in consultation with Sydney Newman
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
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
‘One of the funniest shows in British television’ was the verdict of audiences and critics on After Hours a fantasia of nonsense perpetrated on the ABC Network for two seasons by Michael Bentine above and assorted friends under the direction of Dick Lester, with designs by Bob Fuest.
Not seen in London except for the first three shows, After Hours fielded a team including ‘seaman’ Benny Lee, ‘football fan’ Clive Dunn, ‘child prodigy’ Dick Emery and ‘guest goon’ Bernard Bresslaw
Well… where else would you interview a swimming champion? Olympic Gold Medallist Judy Grinham gets the John Freeman treatment from Michael Bentine
▲African Patrol, the popular film series about East Africa’s police force made on the actual locations, stars John Bentley above as Inspector Paul Derek.
▼Below Richard Denning, Jill Adams and Alan White play the central characters in Flying Doctor, the story of Australia’s famous airborne medical service, specially filmed for television by the Associated British Picture Corporation