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t e l e v i s i o n

 Three on a Gas Ring
ABC's Armchair Theatre (I.T.A.), 1959

Joanna Dunham, Alan Bates, Sheila Allen

Writer: David Osborn
Producer: Sidney Newman
Director: Philip Saville

Drama. A young single girl finds herself pregnant. The play proved to be controversial and was not transmitted -- on decency grounds because the girl showed no remorse about the condition she found herself in. (60 min) |||

Bates Beats the Jinx
Picturegoer, 19.iii.60

DARK-HAIRED, dynamic Alan Bates is fast becoming number one pin-up boy of British television -- in spite of a double jinx on his career. Jinx number one: A Teddy boy haircut which he had to wear for three years when he was typed as a teenage terror. Jinx number two: He was banned from television. Explanation? "Three on a Gas Ring," about love in Chelsea, in which he had his biggest starring role was stated to be too outspoken for family audiences and was the first play banned by ITA.
Bad luck for Bates who, at twenty-three, is fast proving himself among the brightest and handsomest actors on TV.
Since losing that Teddy boy cut for "The Square Ring," in which he won points matched against George Baker and Sean Connery, Bates's punchy style has been improving.
He won the coveted Clarence Derwent award for the best supporting performance in the theatre in 1958. This year he scored in "Incident" with Liz Fraser. And his luck is getting better all the time.
Now he plays Laurence Olivier's son in "The Entertainer" and screen stardom seems just around the corner. |||

E-Mail 16.iv.02 from Julian Grainger, of the British Film Institute:

I HAVE BEEN enjoying your marvellous website devoted to Alan Bates. ...I wanted to tell you something that emerged from my meeting yesterday with television/film director Philip Saville. He had mentioned having three episodes of ABC Television's "Armchair Theatre" banned.
I knew about "The Bandstand" with Donald Pleasence, but not the others. He mentioned something called "Three on a Gas Ring" as one of the other
banned titles. He told me that the plot was about three girlfriends sharing a flat. One falls for rakish Alan Bates and becomes pregnant. Bates is less than delighted and when the woman eventually has the baby, she decides to bring it up with her other two flatmates instead of him.
According to Saville, he changed the script to make this less than conventional ending and having been completed, it was banned (presumably for being perceived as an assault on the idea of the nuclear family).
The script (which we have in our special collections) was written by David Osborn ("Chase a Crooked Shadow", "Deadlier Than the Male" et al.) and produced, naturally, by Sydney Newman. It was made and completed in 1959 but never shown. Sadly we do not have a print. |||

A note about Armchair Theatre:

Armchair Theatre came in several guises.  Called simply 'Armchair Theatre', it played weekly on the network.  In the Midlands and the North, it was billed as 'ABC Armchair Theatre', after its makers, the Associated-British Picture Corporation, which also produced "The Avengers".  As the plainer-named 'Armchair Theatre', it continued for many years under ABC's post-1968 London outlet, Thames.
The series, in any guise, was a different drama with different actors every week, and was the most popular ABC programme after 'The Avengers'.