More musings on Doctor Who and national identity from me have been published at John Connors's Time Lines blog. I've written an introduction with more ideas at The Event Library, and the posts themselves are available at part two and part three.
Digital Fix report that Peter Harness will be adapting H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds for Mammoth Screen and ITV, with shooting not beginning until 2017. Promising; and further food for the speculators surrounding the Doctor Who succession.
I've not seen this play, but would like to. Directed by Douglas Camfield, starring Katy Manning as a lesbian threat to middle-class domesticity, produced by Joan Kemp-Welch (wife of Peter Moffatt), almost directed by Darrol Blake, and featuring Neville Barber probably looking more in his depth than in K-9 and Company (though looking out of place in a conventional sort of way was his stock in trade) it's tempting to view it as a sort of Doctor Who awayday, for lots of people who didn't actually work together on Doctor Who, though of course it isn't that at all. More at the Spaces of Television project blog.
sir_guinglain: (TVTimes1967Avengers)
( Feb. 3rd, 2013 01:17 pm)
If I were to write a longer post about Danger UXB, now watched, it would include:

- the knack some episodes have of telling a story around a location, such as 'Digging Out''s lengthy factory sequence, or 'The Pier'. The former is particularly effective for the lingering hand-held camera shots of Corporal Salt (Kenneth Cranham) as he follows a voice which may or may not be that of his wife through the ruined works in the afternoon light, his mind adrift in place and with hindsight time as well.

- John Hawkesworth's character arcs, comparable in structure to those in his earlier series Upstairs Downstairs. That concerning the brittle insecurity of Major/Captain 'Fanny' Francis (casting presumably against type an actor then best known to audiences for a long on-off stint in Coronation Street, and more recently a regular in Emmerdale) is memorable and perhaps the most successful

- the disappearance and reappearance of the supporting cast depending on production block. Particularly noticeable is variety artiste Sapper Baines, played by variety artiste Bryan Burdon in just two episodes, 'Butterfly Winter' and 'The Pier'. The former just happens to include a sequence filmed presumably in Chipping Norton Theatre (given where the relevant exteriors are shot) where Burdon/Baines can do his act.

- the timescale of the series is mapped out but left unstated directly, again following the precedent of (early) Upstairs Downstairs, so it can be adjusted retroactively should a second series have been commissioned

- though dismissed as a "potboiler" by one television historian, and "not... an important series" fixed on "nostalgia and noise" according to Nancy Banks-Smith in The Guardian (9 January 1979), the juxtapostion of lectures on bombs with melodramatic elements (largely the male protagonists' rollercoaster love lives) and the substantial special effects budget and extensive location filming make it interesting, and (as suggested above) there is some opportunity for real psychological insight.

- at least two unexploded World War Two bombs were discovered as a direct result of one episode, 'Butterfly Winter', so the series helped boost ITV's public service credentials.

- the question of the second series. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Anthony Andrews and Judy Geeson were looking forward to working on series two when the Imperial War Museum's related exhibit opened in spring 1979, and around the same time Jeremy Sinden and Judy Geeson did some charity fundraising connected to keeping the series' profile up after it aired. However, by autumn 1979 and the ITV strike, Anthony Andrews is photographed at Heathrow by the Daily Mirror moving to Los Angeles to look for work, thanks to the cancellation of filming on Brideshead Revisited, suggesting that any hope of a second series was gone by the summer.

- the series drew attention to a change in fashions in leading men. Anthony Andrews was hailed by Nancy Banks-Smith as "one of those golden lads with sensitive mouths", and the Daily Mirror contrasted him, Patrick Ryecart and later John Duttine with a more brutal machismo personified by actors such as Martin Shaw of The Professionals.

Hmm, that's rather a lot of text anyway...

ETA: Reminded of the chapter title 'Circulating stars and satellites' in Doctor Who - The Unfolding Text, the eclipsing of Norma as the principal female character (I don't think there is a female lead as such) by Susan could show how women are used by the series. Judy Geeson initially plays Susan as tough and unsmiling as if she hasn't seen any of the later scripts (probably the case). She is demure and self-sacrificing, and causes pain by being dutiful, where Norma is introduced as a sexual fantasy turned nightmare, ultimately tamed by marriage into the lower ranks. Susan also expresses Brian Ash's increasing confidence in his roles as bomb defuser and officer; Norma personifies the social and material chaos of the Blitz and has little development beyond the 1940 episodes until her wedding in 'With Love from Adolf'. Norma, and Deborah Watling, fulfil their roles in the drama well enough. Given the publicity boost Judy Geeson seems to have had in spring 1979, one suspects she and her agent were hoping for something more to arise for or from Susan.
sir_guinglain: (TVTimes1967Avengers)
( Jan. 31st, 2013 04:23 am)
As I can't sleep, I will share how much I've been enjoying 1979's Danger UXB, recommended to me by [personal profile] naraht and a matter of curiosity to me ever since it was mentioned in the context of the career of either Deborah Watling or Douglas Camfield or both in one of Jeremy Bentham's Matrix Data Bank columns in an early 1980s Doctor Who Monthly. Thirty years is a long time to wait before getting round to something, and this has been expedited by the availability of the entire series, currently, on YouTube. The run-down London of the late 1970s lent itself to being dressed as the blitzed city of nearly forty years earlier, and while the mixture of characters could have been twee - the sappers in the bomb squad at the centre of the series being composed of almost every regional stereotype - it's executed in such a way that it doesn't show. Anthony Andrews is a convincing Brian Ash, transferred from being a private in one regiment to a commission in the engineers and learning how to defuse unexploded ordnance, command men and fend off the advances of his landlady's daughter (a compelling performance by Miss Watling as an unsubtle would-be seductress) all at once. I'm only five episodes in, so Judy Geeson is only beginning to make her presence felt as Susan, daughter of unfairly-labelled "mad professor" Dr Gillespie (Iain Cuthbertson, initially and misleadingly echoing Lionel Jeffries in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and transgressive love interest for Brian. There are intriguing observations on gender roles in wartime - men governed by hierarchies, women addressing all the "brave boys" by their first names, irrespective of rank - and possibly on politics as well, though my take on this might be governed by authorial fallacy, co-creator, producer and head writer John Hawkesworth being conservative by reputation, but production company Euston Films being generally less respectful towards traditional social order. With a large cast, high production values - with at least one explosion required a week - it's not surprising that it was reputedly too expensive for ITV to renew.
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