Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2022

Play for Today: The Hallelujah Handshake

You can find this play on the Alan Clarke at the BBC Dissent box set. I think it's also on Prime and several other places. I had this on a shortlist of possible orphans until I found it isn't, but it's incredibly compelling so will form another breather from my orphaned episodes posts. Unsurprisingly with a star director, it's been extensively commented on already, so I will just point you  here  for a sensible essay before getting on my various hobby horses and commenting on the bits that take my fancy. The first thing absolutely hits you between the eyes. This is a play made in 1970 about a man who just walks into a church, asks to join in by helping with the children, and how the situation unravels as it becomes increasingly clear that he hasn't exactly been truthful, and his motives are decidedly suspicious. His wish to work with the children was among the first things he said to the minister and what is so striking is that fifty years later, surely doing that w

Orphaned Episodes: Stronger than the Sun (Play for Today)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Play for Today was another long-running anthology series which broadcast from 1970 to 1984. Although some of its plays have been released in various formats, it has not been released in its entirety and since I don't think this one has been released commercially it meets the criteria for an orphaned episode I cunningly set originally. I have just discovered to my shock that I have been blogging here for eight and a half years and don't think I have so much as mentioned that nuclear disasters are one of my little obsessions. How have I managed not to mention this? I'm particularly obsessed with the disastrous 'cleanup' at Enewatak Atoll and there was a time when I was younger when I could give you a blow by blow account of the events of 26th April 1986 in the number 4 reactor at Chernobyl and had to be prevented from calling our cat Windscale. I have no idea why this has always fascinated me, I'm not e

Orphaned Episodes: Vérité (Armchair Theatre)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . You are probably as surprised as I am that an episode of this show should appear among these orphaned episodes, since much of the surviving show has been released by Network. But I'm very much afraid I don't think this one will probably be released. It is in a couple of places on YouTube and has been streamed by Talking Pictures TV (don't tell me if it has been released, it's given me real trouble).  I formed this opinion in the first minutes because the use of the n-word, and not in a derogatory sense, suggests this show may have some difficulty transitioning to today. You all know how subtle I am and don't speak my mind but I think the other reason this one might not see the light of commercial day is that it's not very good. God I feel terrible saying that but we're not talking quality here, it feels like this play was a good idea but went horribly wrong along the way. I'm not breaking my o

Orphaned Episodes: Temple Life in the Hare Krishna Cult [sic] (Credo)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . I was pleased to come across a religious documentary because most of the remaining orphaned episodes I have are plays and I felt like a change. I know for a fact that Credo was a series because this show actually says at the beginning that it is one of a series on cults (although Credo sounds more like a general religious TV programme) but it has left remarkably little trace of itself: I have been unable to find any reference to it on the internet apart from this one show on the actual Hare Krishna YouTube channel, not even on IMDb. This is probably the most orphaned episode I will cover. It's also recent enough (1980s) to have benefited from preservation via VHS. I came across this because I was reading a book about what happened in the Hare Krishna movement after the guru died (TL:DR the difficulties of predominantly young adherents and adaptations made to the tradition by Prabhupada created huge conflicts and some peo

Orphaned Episodes: Mrs Acland's Ghosts (BBC2 Playhouse)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . This post contains spoilers of the play's plot. I was expecting to say that this series of posts was drawing to a close but I fell down an internet rabbit hole and as a result have another ten possible orphaned episodes on my hard drive! Like most featured here, they are episodes from a series of plays, as is today's. I don't think for an instant the episodes I'm finding are at all representative of contemporary television. I suspect the orphans which have found their way online are disproportionately middle class.  BBC2 Playhouse  ran for a whole decade from 1973 to 1983 and while I have failed to find out how much of it is wiped, some is certain to be. Conversely, while it meets my definition of orphaned episodes because the whole thing isn't available, I think some of its episodes have had commercial releases. This may not even be the first episode of this series I've included here, because  The M

Weekend in Wallop

Nether Wallop is a village in Hampshire, which in the 2011 census had a population of 876 (surely everybody reading this recognises that cottage in the village), and it was here that in 1984 the First Nether Wallop International Arts Festival was held. And it is at this point I become hysterical. I'm not going to say stop reading this and go and watch the show because together we have to appreciate how the festival happened first. The festival was intended to be an answer to the Edinburgh Festival and was completely for charity. What made it unique (and produced some unique television) was that they asked celebrities to take part in the festival. And do you know, they did? And performed for free for charity in a tiny village where it wasn't even advertised and even for the tiny audience they didn't have a big enough hall (it was filmed in the scout but) and the acts had to be screened in the pub as well. The result is unique performances in a setting where professionals per

Orphaned Episodes: Efficiency Expert (Mr Digby Darling)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . This is the first episode of the late sixties and early seventies sitcom Mr Digby Darling, about an executive in a rat control business and his secretary. I am honestly mystified that I had never heard of it until I came across it while researching these shows; it was hugely popular at the time and was I believe the fourth most viewed TV show at one point. The show's almost complete absence in the cult TV world (after all, there are endless old TV shows and yet ones which aren't as good as this get talked about ad nauseam) is absolutely bizarre. It has two wildly popular actors starring (Sheila Hancock and Peter Jones), who had previously been in the successful The Rag Trade, which has had a commercial release. Really odd. Anyway, that means I don't have anyone else's opinions to disagree with so you get my own untested views. I can see why this show was so successful. It is essentially a sitcom about a rathe

Orphaned Episodes: For Whom the Jingle Bells Toll (The Dick Emery Show)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . It is April and the weather is just warming up for the Easter weekend as I write this, so of course that's the perfect occasion to blog about the Dick Emery Show Christmas special broadcast in 1980. This may seem an odd choice, but then in common with Dame Hilda Bracket, I have always been very happy being me. Unfortunately that is not something which can be said for many comedians. Their interior world can often be described as tortured, which is caused by and causes external instability. Spike Milligan is the example that springs to mind, but Dick Emery is no exception (his life really was extraordinary): Dick Emery seemed destined to become an entertainer from the moment in 1915 when his mother went into labour after staggering off the stage of the London Palladium. His parents Laurie Emery and Bertha Callen performed together in a music hall double act and Bertha’s advanced pregnancy had not been considered a suffici

Orphaned Episodes: The Scarlet Letters (Inspector Morley Late of Scotland Yard) and Another Appeal

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Another post about an orphaned episode and another emotional flip for me - this time to the feeling you get half way through a three year degree. You've started it for perfectly good reasons are in danger of getting tired of it and would jack it in if you had a career to go to. I won't comment more at this point because I have a longer post planned for when these are over, including about how it's been such a wild ride emotionally. A trip back to the fifties today, when Britain was a bastion of moral uprightness and integrity. We were a beacon of hope to the entire world. If you ignore our empire, slavery, rape, pillage and frequent genocide that is. Honestly, you look at Boris and I don't know why anyone's surprised. I might be feeling rather negative. Anyway, I did have a point which was to say that 1950s TV really does take us into an alien world, with alien conventions. There is the imaginary Famous F

Orphaned Episodes: Episode 3 (Benefits Street)

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . So far there have been various reasons these shows have been broken up or become unavailable. I wasn't going to do this show (there are a couple of episodes on YouTube) but have decided I will, simply because of this episode's unusual reason for being orphaned: because it was so controversial at the time of its first broadcast. I am also delighted to say that it is reality TV and is about the residents of James Turner Street in this great city.  But first some background. You didn't think I'd actually get straight onto the subject did you? Winson Green is a loosely defined inner-city area in the west of the city of Birmingham, England. It is part of the ward of Soho.  It is the location of HM Prison Birmingham (known locally as Winson Green Prison or "the Green") and of City Hospital (formerly Dudley Road Hospital) as well as of the former All Saints' Hospital. The area has a very multi-racial p

Orphaned Episodes: The News Benders (Thirty Minute Theatre) with Reference to TV Predicting the Future and Bart to the Future

The introduction to this series of posts can be found  here . Another TV series which manages to get the word theatre into the title and is an anthology series of plays. Last week  Mitchell Hadley  made some kind remarks (thank you!) concerning the thoughts I had that TV hasn't come up with many new things which weren't derived from other media, such as theatre. Since then I have thought of another thing initiated by TV, the infomercial, but events have moved my thoughts on to how television doesn't just reflect society but apparently predicts what is happening. There are probably people who think The X-Files predicted the future, but then the only reason 1984 has come to pass is governments are using it as a manual. Unusually for me I will base this post around an orphaned episode but mention a couple of other shows as well.  The classic example of a British TV show which anecdotally had an uncanny talent for prophecy, was of course  Doomwatch , and the linked article iden