IN ENGLAND, just as in the US, the late fifties and
early sixties were years in which television flowered. The post-war
prosperity put television sets into many American households,
but the medium was still young enough to be experimental.
Just as Americans remember programs
such as "Playhouse 90" offering dramas by young writers
such as Paddy Chayevsky, the English can recall "Armchair
Theatre," "Play of the Week," "Television
Playhouse," and "The Old Vic Theatre of the Air."
The cast lists from the period are filled with names such as
Paul Scofield, Geraldine McEwan, Vanessa Redgrave, Coral Browne,
Sean Connery... and a young Alan Bates, fresh from RADA and the
Recently, an English Bates fan sent a sheaf of old television
reviews and features; at the same time, Julian Grainger, of the
British Film Institute, wrote this:
"... I have
been enjoying your marvellous website devoted to Alan Bates...
I wanted to tell you something that emerged from [a meeting with]
television/film director Philip Saville. He had mentioned having
three episodes of ABC Television's "Armchair Theatre"
banned. He mentioned something calaled "Three on a Gas Ring"...
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 Osborrn ("Chase a Crooked Shadow", "Deadlier
Than the Male" et al.) and produced by Sydney Newman. It
was made and completed in 1959 but never shown. Sadly we do not
have a print."
The following pages have been added to the Bates Television
Archive. They include early photos, cast lists, dates.
ABC/ITA 'Armchair Theatre':
For Love, by Dario Niccodemi, 18.vi.61
on a Gas Ring, by David Osborn, filmed but not shown
by Jane Arden, 15.ii.59
ITV 'Play of the Week':
Upstart, by Harold Brighouse, 7.vi.60
and the Rain, by Merton Hodge, 18.viii.59
The Square Ring,
by Ralph W. Peterson, 9.vi.59
Granada 'Television Playhouse':
by Arden Winch, 22.i.60
by Elizabeth Dawson, 17.iv.59
of Two Mondays, by Arthur Miller, 27.ii.59
If you'd like further information about Golden Age television
in England, here are some links:
The Performing Arts Data
An Overview of Television in the UK:
Key dates in the history of commercial TV
British TV Milestones
link about television history