There’s plenty of Tom & Jerry on over the festive period, and today’s (The Night Before Christmas) is a topical one, so I’ll try to catch that. Later also on BBC1 there’s Classic Serial fare with the penultimate episode of Olivier Twist. The days of the Classic Serial as a cheapish Sunday afternoon treat are coming to an end, so I think it’s worth tuning in (Eric Porter heads the cast as Fagin).
This episode features the dramatic moment when Bill Sikes (Michael Attwell) murders Nancy (Amanda Harris). It doesn’t have the same vicious punch as the 1960’s adaptation with Peter Vaughan and Carmel McSharry, but it’s still quite a jolting moment. Although we don’t see the blows inflicted (the camera remains focused on Sikes) the fury of his actions is obvious. That was always a problem with the Sunday teatime serial (it couldn’t show anything too disturbing) although maybe implied violence lingers longer in the memory than anything more overt.
Thanks to Billy Smart for drawing my attention to the Arena documentary on Orson Welles and Shadowlands, both on BBC2. They’re certainly worthy of attention – Shadowlands would later be remade for the big screen, but this television version looks just as absorbing (Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom head a very strong cast).
Later I’ll switch over to ITV for Me and My Girl at 7.55 pm. It always impressed me that, in the title sequence, Richard O’Sullivan could shed ten years by simply wearing a Man About The House wig.
As for this episode (Nothing Like a Quiet Sunday) it revolves around Simon’s desire to play the good Samaritan – rescuing a drunk woman and taking her home – which later backfires when the object of his charity declares that she and Simon are to be married (much to the annoyance of her fiancé).
If you hadn’t guessed that Simon’s fallen woman was from the upper classes, then her name (Winnifred Whitsun-Burnish) would have been a bit of a giveaway. She was played by Harriet Reynolds, who popped up in many popular series between the late seventies and early nineties. Sadly, she passed away at the early age of 47 in 1992.
Events take their predictable turn as they always did in this sitcom, but the presence of O’Sullivan, Joan Sanderson and Tim Brooke-Taylor (although he’s sadly absent from this one) always helped to make the series more than watchable.