A Formerly Anonymous TV Play (or two)

Dawn Addams

Back in March last year, I blogged about an old TV play that I vaguely remembered. I laid out what I could recall about the subject of the play, who it starred and when and on what channel it was broadcast. All of this was in the hope that someone reading the blog might recall more details of the programme. I had no responses.
As I was writing about this anonymous play, I also recalled a second ITV play, from later in the same decade, along a vaguely related theme, or at least with a similar outcome. I included reference to this in the same post, but the result was the same: no-one came forward to tell me more about this hazy recollection.
Now this is a very self-referential thing to do, but yesterday I was checking my Statistics when I noticed that one of the Search terms used to lead to my blog was ‘June Ritchie 2015’. Intrigued by this, I did my own Google search in those terms, hoping to see how this led back to my site, but nothing relating to me or Author for Sale appeared in the first three pages.
What did appear, very high on the list, was June Ritchie at the Internet Movie Database, or IMDb. A thought, that had not impressed itself on me when I was writing the original post, suddenly waved a flag: might I not be able to identify the later of those two mysterious plays? And indeed I could.
June Ritchie’s play was ‘The Cuckoo Calls’, which was broadcast on 27 August 1977 as the eleventh in a series of twelve plays under the title The Sunday Drama. The strand returned the following year for a second series of thirteen one-off plays. Ritchie played Stella Quince, and the play co-starred Peter Settelen as Bruce Gaunt. (Settelen played the poet John Heritage in ITV’s adaptation of John Buchan’s Huntingtower the following year, which I only recently mentioned).
What surprised me, bearing in mind that I remember the play as being a two-hander, is that IMDb lists no less than nine supporting actors. I haven’t a clue how and where so many people came into the story. What’s interesting is that one of the cast is the semi-legendary Koo Stark, star of the soft-porn ‘classic’ Emily, which had actually been filmed the previous year, though it did not come to public attention until 1981, when Ms Stark started going out with – or more correctly staying in with, Prince Andrew.
At least I now have a name for this long ago play, to go with my allusive memories. Sadly, ‘The Cuckoo Calls’ does not lead to any hits on YouTube. However, anther site refers to the ply as being ‘still available in the archives’, though it doesn’t elaborate on which archives, and where, and how (if) you can get to see them, but at least the tape’s not been wiped.
It was at this point that inspiration tapped me once more on the shoulder. If I could track down June Ritchie’s play through IMDb, might I also be able to identify the anonymous Dawn Addams play in the same manner? One quick search against the lady’s name, and I had another answer.
It turned out that I had been off by more than I thought in thinking the play had been broadcast on a Thursday in 1972. ‘A Room in Town’, written by Donald Churchill, was broadcast on Tuesday 15 September 1970 (one month to the day from my father’s death, making me still fourteen and my younger sister not much past her eighth birthday), and was part of ITV’s very long-running (1956-74) Armchair Theatre strand.
Addams played Margo, the next-door neighbour and mistress to Edwin, played by none other than George Cole, whose wife Betty was played by Pauline Yates (the future Mrs Reginald Perrin), who happened to be married to Churchill. Which puts something of a weird light on the scene where, embarrassed at doing Edwin’s assistant out of an afternoon’s shagging, she strips off and hops into bed with the lad herself. Kinky.
Emboldened by this discovery, I went in wider search of ‘A Room in Town’ via Google, and was delighted to discover this site. If you follow the link, you will see that there is not only a synopsis cum review of the play, confirming all my distant recollections but, glory be, it has clips! Three clips! And the last one looks like it just might be that scene where I had to get up and escort my little sister out of the room! Yee-haw!
Except (oh, you always know when there’s an except on the way): to view these clips, you need to register with BFI ScreenOnline. And to register it appears you have to be, or at any rate belong to, a UK library, college or University. Whether my membership of Stockport Library counts is moot, since the Registration Help link is bust. Curses, foiled again!
Still, I am that much further forward in bridging the holes in my memory, and I also now know that at least some of ‘A Room in Town’ still exists and can be viewed, therefore the possibility exists that I will one day get to view them. Ideally, I’d like to see both plays again, and reassess my fragmentary memories, but I really would like to know what happened in ‘A Room in Town’ after I ushered out my little sister so very many years ago.

June Ritchie

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