Sleeping Partners, the first episode of Robin’s Nest, was broadcast on ITV in 1977.
Having already played Robin Tripp in six series of Man About The House, Richard O’Sullivan clearly hadn’t tired of the character as he pretty swiftly moved onto this spin-off (which also ran for six series).
Joined by Tessa Wyatt, Tony Britton and David Kelly (as the unforgettable Albert Riddle – the one-armed washer-upper) this is typical Mortimer/Cooke fare – although they didn’t write all the episodes. Adele Rose, Terence Feeley and Willis Hall were some of the more unexpected names who pitched in with scripts.
Armed and Extremely Dangerous, the first episode of Dempsey and Makepeace, was broadcast on ITV in 1985.
It’s easy to imagine that D&M was an attempt to replicate the success of The Professionals (which in turn owed something of a debt to The Sweeney). The problem is that a copy of a copy might turn out to be a little faint ….
Given that The Professionals never played that well in America, maybe the casting of Michael Brandon was an attempt to crack that market, just like those old ITC shows. Will they/won’t they was part of the D&M formula (we know what happened in real life of course) although never a large part – catching villains, shooting guns and crashing cars were always the first orders of business.
The excellent Ray Smith was cast as Spikings (this series’ Cowley or Haskins). It’s probably the role for which he’s best remembered today, which is a shame since his relatively short career was full of excellent character performances that stretched him much further (Callan, Colditz, How Green Was My Valley and 1990, to name just four).
With the likes of Roger Marshall and Murray Smith later contributing scripts, D&M is always going to be worth a watch but it can be rather hit or miss.
The first edition of Victoria Wood – As Seen on TV was broadcast on BBC2 in 1985.
If Dempsey and Makepeace doesn’t appeal, then maybe the first show in Victoria Wood’s new series might be more entertaining.
Many of the building blocks of As Seen On TV were already evident in Wood & Walters (C4, 1981 – 1982), although Wood was later to disown it. Mainly this seems to be because the audience were comprised of pensioners who’d never heard of her and proved to be a pretty tough crowd to crack.
But by the time of As Seen on TV, Wood had built up a head of steam through touring and the BBC2 audiences were much more appreciative right from the off. And there’s plenty to appreciate in this opening show, not least the first installment of Acorn Antiques.