Sunday, 27 September 2009

Doctor In the House - All For Love…

Upton is in love with the beautiful Valerie. However, there are two slight problems, he is distracted from his study and secondly he discovers after a romantic date in the park and going back to her home for tea, her father is Professor Loftus! Whats more, Loftus is none to impressed having excused the student from writing an essay earlier that day so he could apparently attend his Grandmother's funeral.

After tea with the Loftus family, Mrs Loftus informs Michael that Valerie would never be allowed to marry a medical student or even a Doctor, much to the Professor's disapproval. Michael responds with the answer that she shouldn't worry, as he is very serious about Valerie and intends to give up his career in medicine!

Michael's father, Duncan and Huw try to reason with him, however after a talk with her father, it is up to Valerie to bring the young medic to his senses...

Background Notes

The penultimate episode of the first Doctor... series takes a turn away from the usual drunken antics of the characters and has more emphasis on character development and storyline.

The theme tune Bond Street Parade is used to great effect in this episode as Upton and Valerie take their romantic walk in the park, it is played on a violin and given a far softer arrangement. Barry Evans again displays wonderful timing in these scenes with Lynn Dalby.

Here, we see the return of Peter Bathurst as Doctor Upton, originally seen in "Why Do You Want To Be a Doctor?". Bathurst had a lengthy career in film and television spanning back to the 1940s. TV appearances ranged from "Dixon of Dock Green" to two appearances in Doctor Who, The Power of the Daleks (1966) and The Claws of Axos (1971). He would make one further appearance in the Doctor... series as Dr. Upton in the 1971 Doctor at Large episode "Trains and Notes and Veins".

Actress Lynn Dalby had already made appearances on other TV shows such as Crossroads and The Gnomes of Dulwich prior to Doctor In The House. However; she would go on to greater acclaim as Budgie's girl-friend Hazel in the Adam Faith comedy-drama Budgie, as well as appearing in the early episodes of Emmerdale Farm.

Joan Benham also makes the first of several appearances as Mrs Loftus in the series. Benham's career in film went back to the 1930s in some uncredited roles.  However, by the 1960s she had become a strong character actress on television particularly in drama. Other TV appearances would include Six Dates with Barker, Romany Jones and a regular role as Lady Fairfax in the LWT drama series Upstairs, Downstairs.

Doctor In The House – All For Love... Based on the books by Richard Gordon (Broadcast: ITV, 27 September 1969) Producer: Humphrey Barclay,  Director: Mark Stuart and Bill Turner, London Weekend Television

Friday, 25 September 2009

Theatre Review: Playing Burton, Newport Riverfront

Stepping into the shoes of one of the cinema worlds most famous film actors, could be a daunting experience for any actor. Not so for Josh Richards who portrayed one of Wales’ acting greats, Richard Burton at Newport Riverfront on Wednesday evening.

As he steps onto the studio floor to the sound of the radio news bulletin announcing the legendary actor’s death, the audience are drawn into the life and work of a man who was the most nominated actor never to win an Oscar.

Burton’s story is recounted from humble beginnings as young Richie Jenkins from Pontrhydyfen, to mega stardom as Richard Burton of Hollywood. Along the way we are reminded of the price he paid for his fame, including an obsessional love for beautiful women and a destructive relationship with alcohol.

Mark Jenkins script draws from many of Burton’s personal quotes and performances, and also takes artistic liberties by allowing the actor to read and comment on his own obituaries. Enhancing the script through a magnificent performance, Josh Richards becomes Burton in life and spirit, passionate, patriotic, humorous, controversial and frequently angry.

There are few props needed as Richards delivers the monologue, the contents of a vodka bottle consumed during the performance serve as a ticking time bomb to Burton’s sad decline. The moment the actor appears to die, Richards drags Burton’s spirit back, to deliver a moving and thought provoking epilogue to the performance resulting that one comes away pondering how much do our megastars really pay for the price of fame?

Playing Burton is a powerful and moving tribute to one of Wales' greatest sons, and certainly a show not to be missed!

More Info on Playing Burton & Josh Richards here.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Doctor In the House - Keep it Clean!

Briddock, Evans, Collier, Upton and Waring are preparing ideas for the St. Swithin's Summer Ward show, though as many that have apparently gone before all the ideas are risque or bawdy!

However; when the Student entertainment committee secretary in the shape of Dick Stuart-Clark shows up with The Dean, plans for the show are turned on their head.

The Dean insists that the show should be wholesome with nothing improper, including no strippers or men dressing up as women! He also suggests that as Michael Upton has theatrical connections (his brother is a dancer) that he should put the show together.

Upton immediately faces a walkout of everyone on the team except Duncan Waring who pledges his support and very limited theatrical experience.

Michael sends for his brother, Terry to help put the show together. Terry's ideas are far more grander than the Christian Union's attempts of "We Three Kings" (despite it not been Christmas) or the nurses poor attempt at ballet.

Duncan realises that the show is going nowhere fast, so as Terry disembarks, Briddock, Evans and Collier are reinstated and so for that matter is a drag act!
  • Garden and Oddie turn around another fun episode of Doctor In The House which again is visually funny. This episode leans strongly on the Christmas Show chapter from Richard Gordon's original book, and you can almost sense that had this episode not been scheduled for September could very well have made a good Christmas episode! 
  • Classic comedy moment here has to go to Briddock (Simon Cuff), Evans (Martin Shaw) and Collier's (George Layton) tribute to the Beverley Sisters, a scene which raises a laugh and that the actors seem to clearly enjoy performing! 
  • Adam Verney returns as Kenneth, The Christian Union Man (last seen briefly in "Settling In"), while Mike Grady puts in yet another appearance in a supporting role!
  • Barry Justice also guest stars as Mike's camp director brother, Terry. Terry is briefly mentioned during Mike's interview in "Why Do You Want To Be a Doctor?", so it's a nice piece of continuity having the character make an appearance here.  Barry Justice was a popular young actor of the time, his previous appearances included King Charles IX in the 1966 Doctor Who adventure "The Massacre" (1966) and James Steerforth in "David Copperfield" (1966). Later Television would include The Pallisers (1974) as Hugo Fitzgerald and The Professionals episode "The Female Factor" (1978) before a tragically early death prior to his 40th birthday in 1980.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Doctor in Penguins

As I've been reading Richard Gordon's excellent Doctor In the House series this year I've been surprised by how many times the original books have been re-issued.

Since Doctor in the House was published by Michael Joseph in 1952 there have been numerous versions published in hardback, omnibus editions and several paperback versions including Penguins.

The Penguin Doctor...series was originally launched in the early 1960s and was re-released with cartoon covers in 1968, however as the 1970s dawned and Doctor in the House was a success on television, the books were re-covered once again to tie in with the TV series success.

Initially, several titles were reissued in 1971 featuring Barry Evans as Michael Upton on the covers, although all these titles were straight reissues of Richard Gordon's original books, both the London Weekend TV Series and Barry Evans received credits on the covers.

In 1974, a few years after Barry had left the television series, the books got another recovering, this time with Robin Nedwell staring out from at least 6 of the titles on attractive covers designed by artist Ivan Holmes.

Pretty much all of Richard Gordon's books were republished at this time, though Robin Nedwell's image was not used on all of them and so models were brought in to act as doctors on other variations of the book covers.

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