From 19 April to 20 May 1983, Michael Gothard appeared on stage, playing Agrippa, and Thidias, in The Young Vic Company's 'Anthony and Cleopatra' at the Young Vic Theatre, 66 The Cut, in Waterloo.

Michael Covenay in the Financial Times: 25 April 1983

"All things considered, I have no hesitation in recommending the young Vic’s version in preference to that of the RSC at the Pit … [being staged concurrently]

The exotic swirl of the piece is excitingly maintained in Keith Hack’s production …

The Young Vic cast is, on the whole, stronger than at the Pit.

The whole show has a movement and energy missing at the RSC …"
Very little is known about Michael Gothard’s role in this production, other than that his character's name was Dieter. There are two references to it in “The Stage”, the first on 31 May 1979.

“Of eight single plays recorded by Thames for transmission in the one-hour ITV Playhouse slot later in the year, five have been produced by John Bowen well-known of course as a writer, and three by Rob Buckler ...

On film and tape, The Perfect House, by Patricia Chaplin, is directed by Ken Grieve. Among the actors are Brian Protheroe, Cathleen Nesbitt, Leonard Cavenagh, Helen Rappaport, Anna Cropper, Michael Gothard, Ann Lynn and Gary Waldhorn.”

“The Perfect House” must have been filmed early in 1979, before the producer, Rob Buckler, left his post with ITV Playhouse in April of that year. Evidently, it was supposed to be screened later in 1979, but – for some reason – this, and Rob Buckler’s other two plays, were kept under wraps.

The second article to mention “The Perfect House”, on 26 February 1981, was entitled “Thames plays at last”, evidently referring to the two-year gap between filming and transmission.

“Three Thames single plays, all produced by Rob Buckler during his year as producer in charge of the company’s ITV Playhouse productions, are to be shown next month.

… The Perfect House will … be shown from 9 pm in an hour slot. This production was directed by Ken Grieve and the large cast included Anna Cropper, Brian Protheroe, Leonard Cavanagh, Cathleen Nesbitt, Helen Rappaport, Ann Lynn, Danny Rae, Gus Roy, Frank Lee, Marcello Rono, Gary Waldhorn, John Cassaday, Rachel Warren, Charles Warren, Lizie Spender, Bob Curtis, Michael Gothard, Kevin Costello and Francesco Moralis.”

“The Perfect House” was finally broadcast on 17 March 1981 as episode 2 of season 13 of ITV Playhouse.

This is the entry in the TV Times.

The Perfect House 1

The accompanying article by Larry Ashe on pages 6 and 7, entitled, "The terror that could be on the street where you live" has this to say:

"They are all respectable enough today – but these houses and flats were not as innocent as they look. They were used as bomb factories, boltholes or transmitting stations for terrorists and spies. Neighbours were unaware of what went on behind those ordinary-looking doors and windows.

Today there will almost certainly be other houses and flats hiding similar deadly secrets – perhaps on the street where you live. Tuesday’s play, The Perfect House, is a story about terrorists and their need for what in the jargon of spying is called a 'safe house'."

It then goes on to give details of real life "safe" houses which could be harbouring dangerous terrorists or criminals in your own neighbourhood - so long as you live in London or Middlesex!

The Perfect House 2

The BFI, which holds a copy of the play, gives this plot summary:

“A woman innocently becomes involved with an Argentinian terrorist who uses her home as a base for his activities.”

IMDB entry
It is thought that "The Perfect House", broadcast 17 March 1981, was filmed in the early part of 1979.

Michael Gothard is listed among the cast in The Stage, and the TV Times reveals that his character's name was Dieter.

Further details can be found here
This was one of a long-running series of television plays, each lasting an hour, and shown on ITV.

"The Story-Teller" was shown at 8:30 pm on Monday 3 March 1969.
Written by William Corlett
Directed by Piers Haggard

The TV Times synopsis

"A strange young man gate-crashes a private party with a disturbing message for the guests. But is he worth listening to? He mustn’t be allowed to spoil the party.

The young man, Brian, has something about him that is not quite of this world. No one knows how he comes to be at the party, and his conversation is far removed from the usual brittle and frivolous chat.

Jan, already feeling a bit detached from the swinging scene because of her heavily pregnant condition, is buttonholed by the young man, and finds him increasingly difficult to ignore.

He seems to have divined from the start that she is troubled by fears she can’t quite describe, but which have much to do with the child she expects very soon.

Brian is posing all the questions that she dreads … questions she knows her child will grow up to ask."

Michael Gothard played Brian, and Frances White played Jan.

The Story-Teller picture
Picture from the TV Times.

From: “Armchair Theatre: The Lost Years” by Leonard White

"A year after his debut for us with The Scallop Shell, William Corlett said of this next play, 'I’ve tried to point out that people should sometimes take stock of themselves. I’ve known quite a few people like the characters I’ve written about, girls who worry about their right to bring children into the world, and young men who search for the truth.'

The ratings for that particular week were interesting, showing that ATV’s series The Power Game came top of the Top Twenty, beating even Coronation Street. Our own ‘difficult’ production, The Story-Teller, slipped somewhat, [presumably compared to Armchair Theatre from the week before] but still did better than The Avengers and Softly, Softly."

This particular production illustrated sharply the differing reception reported by the critics on the one hand and the viewers on the other.

The critics were at best luke-warm or ‘kind’:

Sylvia Clayton (Daily Telegraph, 04/03/1969) – 'Dramatically it was wooden …'

Michael Billington (The Times) – 'A fairly elaborate contrivance to make a simple point.'

Mary Malone (Daily Mirror) - The Night They Called for the Extras

'Reacting extras have even been known to contribute gestures if the director is feeling generous. When plot and dialogue are so racy that even the stars cannot muster enthusiasm what is a director to do but throw it to the extras – and like trained seals they reacted, a dozen glances to the left, a dozen to the right, as well trained as a chorus (or should it be a choir?) as the play ascended in a cloud of mist on to some plane beyond mortal ken.'

Nevertheless, in the TV ratings for the week, The Story-Teller was number 13 in the table, with 6.4 million viewers.

Unfortunately, according to Lisa Kerrigan at the BFI, "The Storyteller" appears not to have survived.

IMDB entry



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October 2013

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