TV Cream

TV: L is for...


“ALL RIGHT, which one of you bitches is my mother?” Teeth’n’tinseltown trolloping from the typewriter of SHIRLEY “TERENCE” CONRAN. PHOEBE CATES got to swear in trailers, while ANGELA LANSBURY, HONOR BLACKMAN and TREVOR EVE looked discomfited.



  1. George White

    February 10, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Basically Bunty comic’s the Four Marys with added sex with its story of “teenage” pregnancy (average age of student – 31).

  2. George White

    June 7, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Watched it again. Wow. Angela Lansbury doing an oddly Northern-sounding French accent, a pre-the year Dot June Brown and Honor Blackman as lesbians, valiant attempts to make thirty-something actresses look like teens including Annette Badland, Brooke Adams, etc, crowbarred stock footage of the Queen, John Abineri as a posh uncle, and Terence Alexander and Gary Cady in a Mark of the Rani preunion, Trevor Eve and a bad American accent, Frank Middlemass as an asthmatic, lusty Sheikh, Terence Rigby as an overweight, lusty Greek tycoon, yes, this is camp 80s lunacy as its best. Bruce Boa! Shane Rimmer! Herbert “no relation to Duncan” Norville, the fella from PFT: Waterloo Sunset and one of the voxpops on Nozin’ Aroun’ as a Vietnam soldier!

  3. Glenn A

    December 10, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Also featured an actress who is very well known in French speaking countries, but little known here( except in Lace and the shortlived 1990 Saint revival), Arielle Dombasel. Rather like Johnny Hallyday was outside of French speaking countrues, Ms Dombasel could wander around London and not be noticed, but in Paris would soon be surrounded by autograph hunters and fans. I do recall being in Brussels in 1990 and a French language paper having a massive feature on her.

  4. George White

    December 11, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Also was in the barking French Atlantic Affair. A sort of bizarre hybrid of the Jonestown Massacre, Love Boat, Poseidon Adventure (Shelley Winters and Stella Stevens appear and Telly Savalas does his religious leader/terrorist act from Beyond the Poseidon Adventure as an Irish-Greek-American UFO cult priest who hijacks a French cruise and plans a mass suicide) with a soupcon of Entebbe/Who Dares Wins. Featuring Louis Jourdan as the Captain, Jose Ferrer as the French President, Donald Pleasence and James Coco doing accents as the French Atlantic line owners, Richard Jordan pre-empting his role in Raise the Titanic, Chad Everett (another big in the US, nothing here name) as essentially Harold Robbins but as an action hero with a Tristram Fourmile-esque ham radio genius son, which levels it into 70s Disney – with a ham radio girlfriend who has a dog called MacMutt. Ted Danson appears as John Houseman’s assistant. They man a crime computer.

  5. Richard16378

    December 11, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    All the above sound odd enough to be worth tracking down.

    I’m just wondering if there was any budgetr sets, props, decent writing… left after the big names were paid.

    It sounds like the Greek Tycoon had trouble in that area, lots of stars but a sub movie of the week budget for everything else.

    • Glenn A

      December 11, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      I do miss some of these really glossy eighties mini series that were popular on the third button in the eighties. Lace was class, but you also need to check out Sins, made in 1986 starring Joan Collins( then 52), playing a teenage French Resistance fighter and a twentysomething model and then more realistically, a middle aged owner of a fashion house. Featuring a bizarre plot involving a Simon Wiesenthal Nazi hunter who tracks down a war criminal who killed Collins mother, same war criminal in league with Collins bitter ex husband( Stephen Berkoff is on top form as the Nazi), Gene Kelly as an ageing musician who has an affair with Collins, and an assasin who kills people with a Doberman, it’s worth checking out. Also features Timothy Dalton just before he became Bond. Worth checking out for the plot alone.

      • George White

        December 12, 2017 at 10:04 am

        Actually, she wasn’t playing the teenage/twentysomething self – that was the vision of loveliness that is Catherine Mary Stewart, of the Apple/Last Starfighter fame, who looks nothing like our Joanie.
        Although Lace itself had old teens. With the titular three, it makes sense, as they’re playing their characters from their teens to their forties. But Annette Badland IIRC only appears in the school scenes, and she was 33!

        • Glenn A

          December 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

          Still an enjoyable piece of hokum, though, and yes time is playing tricks on me, Joan would have looked a bit ridiculous as a 14 year old. Stephen Berkoff had certainly found his niche by then, though, playing employees of totalitarian regimes, as he’d recently played Russian officers in Octopussy and Rambo 2, and would play Hitler in another decent mini series, War and Rememberance. A shame none of these glossy mini series ever get repeated.

        • George White

          December 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm

          TBH Stewart herself although they do convincingly make her look quite younger than she is, was 26 playing 13. But even Collins plays Helene in her her late twenties – “four years” pass, that look more like forty years. And Berkoff’s enemy ironically is played by a man he probably wrestled a lot of roles over for – Paul “Belloq” Freeman. Berkoff probably hated making it, he always goes on about how ITV is shite, despite having been in the Avengers and ITC shows e.g. UFO and how BBC is shit now cos it makes EastEnders, despite having appeared in BBC soap The Newcomers. Nazi-uniformed masquerade spy turns out to be an unconvincingly aged Neil “Biggles” Dickson. Victor Spinetti pops up as a makeup artist.

          • George White

            December 12, 2017 at 12:36 pm

            Dombasle pops up in Sins too.
            Some of them get showings on True Movies and the like. They showed a rare one – although technically I think it was one long TVM – Irwin Allen’s barmy the Memory of Eva Ryker, starring Natalie Wood age 43 playing a character in her late twenties in 1981, Robert Foxworth as her lover, as with Sins and French Atlantic Affair, Jean Pierre Aumont, and Roddy McDowall as an Irishman who lives in Australia (we even see an ad for Air Australia, presumably the same one Tegan worked for) – easier to fake Australia than Ireland in Hollywood, with John “the Gunfighters” Aldersson as the local sheriff, and lots of stuff involving flashbacks of mother dying on a British liner sunken during the war, although in the original book,it is the Titanic, all shot on the Queen Mary, a la SOS Titanic, French Atlantic on Goliath Awaits (another ace miniseries – godawful Scots accents though
            War and Remembrance intrigued me, cos Robert Hardy’s scenes seemingly were mostly shot in gthe US, I think because Ralph Bellamy was too old to fly over toEngland for his scenes as Roosevelt, so the likes of Admiral Pound are played by US-based Brits like Eric Christmas. Robert Morley’s scenes were also all shot in US/Hawaii for similar reasons I believe, with US Brit dujour Ian Abercrombie as a British admiral in “Gibraltar”. I am fascinated by fakery in locations, esp. when US plays UK. Winds of War has a different Hitler – Gunther Meisner, of Slugworth in Willy Wonka, also in Silas, and played Hitler opposite Robert Hardy Churchill in Churchill- The Wilderness Years and as Hitler and Hitler’s sister in Ace of Aces with Jean Paul Belmondo. WOW though had Howard “Captain Baines from the Onedin Line” Lang as Winston, same role he played in Jane with Glynis Barber! Except he was flown over to the US for certain scenes in WOW, IE Newfoundland was actually Washington.

   Here’s an old TVC roundup.
            As for the Greek Tycoon, that truly is mad bollocks. John Bennett and Vicki Michelle, Roland Culver as a fictional UK PM, everyone with different names to avoid being sued, the reason it seems cheap is prime exploitation maestro Nico Mastorakis, behind video nasty The Island of Death was the producer. Lots of connections to other Onassis biopics. Anthony Quinn sirtaki-ing again as “Tomatis” plays Onassis’ da in a Raul Julia-starring biopic filmed in Spain co-starring Geoffrey Hutchings and directed by Waris “the Indian lad”* Hussein, Joss Ackland who appears weirdly uncredited and dubbed as a Captain in the clearly tacked on prologue played Onassis in a TVM with Roma Downey as Jackie, Raf Vallone (who played a Greek tycoon the same year in another gloriously tosh bonkbuster The Other Side of Midnight, one of the last films to be made in the old Hollywood backlot style, stagey sets representing Greece and France and a catatonic Susan Sarandon stranded in a nunnery), James Fransciscus playing not-JFK being assassinated on a romantic date at a beach clearly not New England(the same year he appears as a character named Dick Carriage in Harold Robbins miniseries/backlot-bound Arab bobbins The Pirate – a prime piece of pornographic muzak starring Franco Nero as the son of Israeli general Eli Wallach sold to Sheik Christopher Lee, Nero grows up, becomes a playboy, daughter Olivia Hussey joins the PLO, fights alongside Arabs Armand Assante, Ian McShane, Ferdy Mayne, Jeff Corey and Michael Pataki and features Nero dancing with Anne Archer superimposed over stock footage to suggest “international journey”).
            But the prime slice of 70s theatrical bonkbustery is either Harold Robbins’ the Betsy (Olivier age 70 playing from the age of forty to ninety, a sex-mad car mogul named Hardeman) or Sidney Sheldon’s bizarre giallo-esque Bloodline, where James Mason as a Yewtree-ish MP who funds European snuff films starring real-life porn starlets tries to get a thirty five year old heiress played by fifty year old Audrey Hepburn in glam aunt mode to star in one of his films, after he murders her da. Featuring weird Silas-esque flashbacks, Maurice Colbourne as a gambler, Derrick “Gupte/Father Fernandez” Branche, Michelle “Mamas and the Papas” Phillips as Mason’s wife of all people, Romy Schneider as a racing driver, Gert Frobe as a comedy detective called Max (a nod to Sheldon’s Hart to Hart, which itself ripped off from the Cassandra Crossing) who has a pet talking crime computer who helps solve the mystery, and Omar Sharif as an Italian who juggles two families, one who drive around in a tiny Fiat 500 with the sunroof open to make room, a la all those jokes about Pakistanis and minis. And his kids are all dressed as Frank Spencer. Features a naked woman dragged out of the Thames too. Ultra sleazy.
            Also, Jacqueline Susann’s Once is Not Enough – if only for the bizarre sight of Leonard Sachs playing a Swiss doctor in scenes he clearly did for a free Alpine holiday.

  6. Glenn A

    December 13, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    George, your knowledge of these series is amazing, as most people will probably think Jackie Collins and three nights of watered down adventures in Hollywood, shown on ITV in the summer in the mid eighties. I can add one that did have a lot of gravitas, being shown by the BBC, Mussolini, played by George C Scott, which was quite an accurate account of the life and times of Il Duce. Also Australia weighed in a year later with a mini series about their little known involvement in Vietnam, which I recall being a brilliant series, but again online details are scarce. Bloodline sounds excellent and very of it time.

  7. sC

    December 14, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    There were two Mussolini miniseries, at least, two in the Halliwells TV companion, the Scott one being shot in Yugoslavia, the actual Italian one being the RAI-HBO Mussolini and I with Anthony Hopkins (as the son in law, Raul Julia in the other version), Susan Sarandon (as the daughter, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the Scott) and Bob Hoskins as Il Duce, and lots of Italian-based English dubbing artists in on-camera roles.
    The Scott Mussolini on the other hand has Kenneth Colley as King Victor Emmanuel, Vernon Dobtcheff, Michael Aldridge, Milton Johns as the German Ambassador (soon before his scene-stealing and deservedly special guest star billing as Eichmann inWar and Remembrance – great to see him in a big showy part on US TV!), Eileen “Old Mother” Way and Philip Madoc. And no, Michael Sheard wasn’t Hitler, that was Secret Army’s Gunnar Moller.

    I was reading Halliwell’s TV companion which has a lot of coverage of miniseries, some praise, some derision especially lament on how Dunera Boys (a rather stiff Aussie series about the exile of mainly Jewish Austrian- descent Britons from Blighty (i.e.either Sydney or Melbourne doubling as London) to the Aussie desert, with Hoskins again, Warren Mitchell and Joseph Furst). I watched Vietnam recently and I found it a neat snapshot of 60s Australia, with footage of Graham Kennedy (ironically the star of another Aussie ‘Nam movie The Odd Angry Shot) The usage of Pachelbel’s canon against violence particularly striking. As were the fights against the Americans, and the Procol Harum-scored departure, but it was way too slow, overlong. Lots of ABC Australia despite being a Network 10 production. George Miller and his Mad Max buddies produced it and a lot of the similar worthy, interesting but usually not quite exciting Aussie stuff, the epic Bangkok Hilton also with Kidman, Bodyline with Hugo Weaving cementing his status as Australian TV’s favourite Englishman (he was partly raised in UK, IIRC), the Weaving vehicle Dirtwater Dynasty, the Riddle of the Stinson with Jack Thompson and Richard Roxburgh, about a bushman rescuing some devastated upper class survivors of a plane crash, a rather drawn out laidback inversion of an exciting adventure, the Cowra Breakout and The Dismissal (almost all-star venture – Tom “Lou” Oliver, John Meillon, Ed “Skippy’s owner” Devereaux, Thaw-alike John Stanton (star of the dreadful Tai-Pan, a film that should have been a miniseries), John Hargreaves, Max Phipps, and though it makes Aussie politics interesting, there is some unfortunate brownface. I think the Aussies strove to be basically UK TV but with the production value of the US. Hence weird mishmashes like A Town Like Alice.
    The Thorn Birds though was American, California doubling for Italy, Greece and the Outback, Hawaii doubling for Matlock Island. Only Bryan Brown and his English-born expat wife Rachel Ward and bit parter Chard Hayward are Aussie citizens. Everyone else American, English or Canadian, no one actually bothering with an accent.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    February 9, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    A lot of these programmes were gloriously insane schlock that people lapped up during the summer, but there was one outstanding American mini series that the broadsheets seemed to enjoy, Kennedy, starring Martin Sheen in a fairly accurate portrayal of the presidency of John F Kennedy. I do recall watching this in 1983 and considering it quite a serious and worthy mini series, more suited to BBC2 than ITV, and another that should be repeated again.

    • richardpd

      February 9, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      Kennedy was the source of a joke in The Goonies where Mouth finds a coin with Martin Sheen’s head on at the bottom of a wishing well.

      Recently there was Camelot about JFK’s time as president which looked good but didn’t seem to make the impact of many of the above mentioned mini-series.

  9. George White

    February 10, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Kennedy was astonishingly entirely produced by Central TV, then sold to the US networks. Unlike BBC2’s Oppenheimer, though, it was entirely shot in the US with a US-based cast. With Oppenheimer, the Beeb were allowed by Equity to cast Sam Waterston, but even for the scenes shot in the US, had to use the likes of Shane Rimmer.
    So therefore Kennedy was a British series, with an all-British crew IIRC. That means, the Goonies watch Central.

    PS my blog’s been updated – – give it a read!!!

  10. Glenn Aylett

    February 10, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    @ George, I’ll be visiting your blog spot later. Also never knew Kennedy was made by Central, whose star was really rising at the time within ITV.

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