armchair-theatre

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The Paradise Suite (1963)

THIS WAS SO GOOD! Carroll Baker is in it playing an actress called Lena Roland. She really wants love and even though she appears successful to the world she struggles to come to terms with her public persona and how people always fail to see her true self I really loved the main character and when that man told her she would never be able to get close to someone because she’s too busy having a love affair with herself…same
It’s also apparently inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s death

A tale of dodgy facial hair and accents, no doubt, but I am highly amused to discover The Exploding Azalea was apparently literal.  There are moments where James Maxwell’s CV begins to approach the dizzy heights of improbability that usually only apply to David Collings.  (TV Times extract courtesy of Liadt.)

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Happened to see a mention on Facebook that Leonard White had passed away and I wanted to share it here - his name may not be as synonymous with The Avengers as Sydney Newman or Brian Clemens, but as the first producer for the show he played a vital part in getting it on screen and ensuring it’s success.

Born in Sussex in 1916, White initially pursued a career as an actor in repertory theatre. He served in the Second World War and continued to act in forces productions; demobbed in 1946, he made the move to full time acting. His career in this field may not be what he is remembered for but he did have the distinction of being one of the leads in the original run of Christopher Fry’s excellent play in verse, A Sleep Of Prisoners (along side future stars Denholm Elliot and Stanley Baker).

Acting led to directing and then producing and in 1957 he completed training in a production course for CBC Television in Canada - here he met Sydney Newman, who brought him home to work for ABC as an Associate Producer. White worked with Newman on Police Surgeon (replacing Julian Bond), and when that series was wrapped up Newman brought his colleague into his new venture: The Avengers.

Leonard White was the producer for The Avengers from it’s inception until half way through the second series. His role in shepherding the new show onto television cannot be downplayed, and as the most senior member of the production staff to spend time on set he may arguably have contributed more to first shaping the series and it’s themes than most. Sadly, much of this era is missing from the archives and so we cannot see those early episodes.

White did, however, have one other, very important contribution to the legacy of The Avengers. It was he that commissioned photographer John Cura to keep a detailed visual record of that first series (barring the first few episodes, before White had heard of Cura). These off air pictures, commonly referred to as ‘telesnaps’, were common practice in the early days of television. Cura thus took pictures of every subsequent episode until White moved on, providing an invaluable image archive for these early shows. Forgotten about for decades, Leonard produced the scrapbooks during research into the StudioCanal release of series 2 in 2009 - the pictures were reproduced in an accompanying booklet, along with paperwork and caption cards, also from White’s collection. This is now likely the only way fans will be able to ‘see’ the majority of the first series.

After The Avengers, Leonard was a prolific producer for Armchair Theatre, helming more than a hundred episodes, and went on to work on some of the best remembered children’s serials of the 1970’s - Sky, King Of The Castle and The Clifton House Mystery among them. In 2011 he attended The Avengers 50th Anniversary Celebration in Chichester where, despite being in his mid 90’s, he proved a fascinating and knowledgeable speaker. He was a remarkably sprightly figure and retained a great deal of enthusiasm for the series which had opened doors to a large and fruitful career.

RIP Leonard White, 5.11.1916 - 2.1.2016

getty

Pic I found of James Maxwell, as yet another Victorian with strange fake facial hair. (Cast by director Jonathan Alwyn again, too.)