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ACTION TV ONLINE EPISODE GUIDE
EPISODE GUIDE INDEX
1990
BBC 1977 - 1978
"Britain under the heel of the PCD, the Department of Public Control, the instrument of an all-powerful bureaucracy".
SEASON ONE
Creed of Slaves
TX : 18th September 1977
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : Alan Gibson

Publicity : 1990: Tuesdays and Thursdays Edward Woodward is generally to be found on his boat. Up river, on a sunny day, cranes stretch in a silver fretwork to the sky. Behind are the terraced streets and prefabs of East Ham. Round about the marshlands are creeping back to their pre-war wilderness. The cormorant has returned among the spreading reeds. So has the BBC.

"You know, those wildlife chaps," he says. "Down here a lot. Crawling around trying to photograph the black-footed greater-crested grebe or some such". It is a peaceful stretch of the water and he finds the tranquility a necessary part of his timetable. Right now he has had to abandon ship for a four-week trip to Adelaide, singing Sir Joseph in HMS Pinafore. And this week the first episode of 1990, the series he has been working on for four months, goes out on BBC-2. "It's quite an extraordinary piece," he says. "It's either going to create a furore or pass without comment. In political terms, it says quite daring things about our system, our form of government, our way of life. And it pulls no punches".

Set a further six years on from George Orwell's prophetic novel, 1990 is Wilfred Greatorex's disturbing vision of what life might be like for all of us here in Britain in thirteen years' time: a bureaucracy run riot, top heavy with administrators, all controlling our every step. Woodward recalls how during the making of the series he would feel that occasionally the picture was a bit far-fetched. "Then I would pick up a newspaper and read some ordinary item of day-to-day life - and there it all was already. Red-tape, the VAT man, forms, identification. It's much more frightening than 1984 because it's closer to us than Orwell's book was to his own generation. It's really just around the corner. I mean, just think how difficult it is to find who's responsible for things nowadays".


Woodward, who plays the cool, subversive journalist Kyle in the series, says that his own attitudes to life have not changed substantially during the series. He has become, he admits, a bit more aware perhaps. "But the series reflects my ideas anyway. I find it abhorrent that a man or a woman today has got involved in a vast, a glutinous, a jelloid attitude whereby individualism has become a dirty word to everyone in power. You don't know any more what to put your finger on. It's like dropping an apple into the water down there and trying to pick it up as it bobs about". Ostensibly a calm man, untheatrical in manner, his tone is surprisingly vehement. A freckled face, a panama hat, canvas shoes, at forty-seven he looks for all the world more like a Mediterranean habitué than a political polemicist. But then, as he points out, 1990 is not about politics as such. "It's about how the majority of people have become non-productive administrators to the administration. Parliament is just a cipher - it's irrelevant which party is in power. The great thing for all of us while we were doing it was to keep a political balance. That was vital for the feasibility of the message. It's no good slamming the unions, inefficiency, or the corruption of big business. You've really got to say," turning Shakespearian for a second, "a plague o' both your houses…".

As Kyle that is more or less what he does. And as the man best known to television audiences for his part in Callan, how is this new role going to affect his image? "Any part that I play that is (a) a worried man, (b) a tough man, and (c) jelly underneath must be compared to Callan. But there will be a comparison only because it's the nearest character to Callan that I've played. You see I've made a great effort not to get typecast. That's why I only did forty-two Callans in six years. The rest of my time I devoted to working in the theatre, making records. All the same, Kyle was a difficult part because I had to keep telling myself not to play against what Wilf had written just because it's like another character I've played. But when you've got a script that's really well-written, nine times out of ten the character leaps off the page at you. A good script makes all the difference. It's why an actor decides to do it. It's what gives you the love of the work. It's why you say you can't go away on holiday". Doubtless it's why too, when he returns from Australia, he will be going straight into work on the second series of 1990. (Radio Times, September 17, 1977 - Article by Victoria Hainworth).

Cast :
Donald Gee (Doctor Vickers), Stacy Davies (The PCD Inspector), Paul Chapman (Randall), Luke Hanson (Grey), Lynn Dalby (Mrs Grey), Robert Swales (Wilkie), Eileen Davies (Mrs Vickers), Sophie Coghill (Tina Vickers), Willie Jonah (Nolan), Malcolm Rennie (The Emigration Officer), Bruce Lidington (Harper), Bill Rourke (The Emigrant), Desmond Jordan (Burnley) and Colin Fay (The Stevedore).

Synopsis :
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves" (William Pitt). Home Affairs correspondent Jim Kyle, a journalist for one of Britain's three remaining newspapers, provides assistance to a doctor struggling to help his asthmatic daughter leave the United Kingdom. His endeavours bring him into close contact with the Public Control Department and its tools of bureaucratic repression.

Notes :
This episode was transmitted 8:10pm to 9:05pm on BBC 2. The series was transmitted under the banner title of Drama Two.


When Did You Last See Your Father?
TX : 19th September 1977
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : David Sullivan Proudfoot

Cast :
Reginald Jessup (Henry Duncan), Mike Hall (The First Emigration Officer), David Rowley (The Second Emigration Officer), Gillian Raine (The Chairperson), John Hamill (Norton), Stacy Davies (The PCD Man), Peter Attard (Ian Cursley), Alix Kirsta (Carol Harper) and Donald Gee (Doctor Vickers).

Synopsis : "We don't make laws, we only carry them out". Despite the Home Secretary's abolition of all exit visa appeals, Kyle has successfully helped Doctor Vickers leave the United Kingdom, but without his wife and daughter. He invests his hopes in the international law which states that his family can join him, provided he can attain residency status in another country. However, the Public Control Department are determined to exercise any legal loophole at their disposal to block Vickers' efforts, and in so doing put paid to Kyle's interference - permanently.


Health Farm
TX : 26th September 1977
Script : Edmund Ward
Director : Kenneth Ives

Cast :
Donald Douglas (Doctor Gelbert), Ray Smith (Charles Wainwright), Howard Bell (Halloran), Mitzi Rogers (Agnes Culmore) and John Rhys-Davies (Ivor Griffith).

Synopsis : "…no barbed-wire, no strait-jackets, no padded cells. After all, this is 1990". When the Public Control Department send union leader Charles Wainwright to the United States of America to promote their cause, the plan backfires disasterously when his speech is littered with dissident criticisms of the bureaucratic nightmare the United Kingdom has become under the stewardship. When he returns home, the PCD are quick to repay the compliment by sending him to an Adult Rehabilitation Centre, a place where offenders against the state (political activists, murderers, thieves, etc) are sent for "correction" under a combination of drug therapy and severe treatments which change their way of thinking. Kyle determines to interview Wainwright and infiltrates the centre, unaware the PCD are ranging their forces against him…

Decoy
TX : 3rd October 1977
Script : Edmund Ward
Director : Alan Gibson

Cast :
Phyllida Nash (The Reporter), Graham Crowden (Doctor Sondeberg), Victor Maddern (Calhoun), Antony Scott (Kingston), George Mallaby (Carr), Alan Tucker (Bowden) and Jonathan Adams (The PCD Officer).

Synopsis : This is an island prison. Getting us all together is one thing. Getting us out is something else". High-profile political adviser Doctor Sondeberg, a man responsible for the rising fortunes of a variety of presidents, pays a state visit to the United Kingdom on a fact-finding mission to understand the workings of the Public Control Department. However, his motives are far more covert than first appearances. Meanwhile, Dave Brett persuades Kyle to obtain permits to allow them to travel around the country to advance his deal with underworld figure Sammy Calhoun - a deal which involves a motorised caravan as a passport for top academics to flee the oppressive regime of the PCD.

Voice From The Past
TX : 10th October 1977
Script : Arden Winch
Director : David Sullivan Proudfoot

Cast : Robert Sansom (The Old Man), Richard Hurndall (Avery), Esmond Knight (Mitchell), David Lyell (The Policeman), Simon Chandler (Brian), Simon Lack (Luff), Raymond Mason (Sefton), Damien Thomas (Walters), David Rolfe (Peters), Claire Davenport (The Nurse), John Quarmby (Bland), Terence Ward (The PCD Inspector), Joby Blanshard (Williams) and Terry Bale (Len).

Synopsis : "The age of the common man seems to be degenerating into the age of the common denominator". When the Public Control Department take steps to shut down an underground newspaper peddling dissident stories critical of the regime, Kyle provides assistance to its publisher, Avery, in a bid to prevent their interference.

Whatever Happened To Cardinal Wolsey?
TX : 17th October 1977
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : David Sullivan Proudfoot

Cast :
James Lister (PCD Supervisor Wade), Pamela Sholto (The Chairperson), Ian Liston (Talbot), John Castle (Philip Carter), John Phillips (Attorney-General Graham), Janie Booth (Lena), Anna Cropper (Susie Carter), Frank Mills (PCD Inspector Jones), Ed Bishop (Ed Burbank), John York (Davies), Martin C Thurley (Clayton) and Graeme Eton (Aldwick).

Synopsis : "They've turned discipline into the nastiest fine art the world's ever known. They make the Marquis de Sade look like a neglected Saint". Determined to dispense justice in a fair-minded manner, Judge Philip Carter has come to the attention of Attorney-General Graham, who is outraged that he is upholding so many appeals. Graham instructs the Public Control Department to apply pressure on Carter to "tow the party line", as it were, but they are met with stolid resistance. When Kyle offers the Judge assistance by virtue of his escape network, he is surprised to find that Carter is determined to continue practicing law at any cost, but when the PCD starts a pattern of systematic intimidation against his pregnant wife, he is forced to reconsider his stance.

Witness
TX : 24th October 1977
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : Alan Gibson

Cast :
Peter Myers (Bingham), Mark Heath (Paul), Michael Cashman (The Technician), Donald Gee (Doctor Vickers), Patricia Garwood (Maggie Kyle), Jonathan Scott-Taylor (Bevan), John Bennett (The Prosecutor), Yvonne Gilan (The Defence Counsel), Clifford Mollison (The Chairman), Terry Walsh and Alan Harris (The PCD Men).

Synopsis : "We'll get Kyle…We'll get Kyle. He's an enemy of the State…and of this Department". Jim Kyle stands trial for helping people leave the United Kingdom illegally. The Public Control Department have closed the net around their prime target, and are determined to finally prosecute their claims against him. They determine to use Doctor Vickers as their smoking gun, and travel to the United States of America, where he has successfully attained residency, to present him with an irresistible deal in exchange for evidence against Kyle.

Non-Citizen
TX : 31st October 1977
Script : Edmund Ward
Director : Rob Bird

Cast :
Mitzi Rogers (Agnes Culmore), Edward Judd (Auckland), Julia Sutton (The Woman Non-Citizen), Vernon Dobtcheff (Professor Cheever), Victor Maddern (Sammy Calhoun), Colin Edwynn ("Nutter" Stonebridge), Tony Sympson (Frank Woodcock) and Stacy Davies (The PCD Sergeant).

Synopsis : Having emerged triumphantly from his trial, Kyle soon finds that his enemies will not let the matter rest. He finds himself reduced to the status of a non-citizen after his citizenship is revoked, thereby preventing him from working, purchasing food or retaining ownership of his house. Forced to live on the streets, he virtually disappears without trace - at a crucial time when he is needed. Underworld figure Sammy Calhoun needs his help, and instructs Brett to locate him, but how can he find a man who effectively no longer exists?

SEASON TWO
Pentagons
TX : 20th February 1978
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : Peter Sasdy

Cast :
Oscar James (Everton), John Nolan (Tomson), Paul Beech (Green), Norman Mitchell (Sewell), Barry Lowe (Frank Fenton), Edward De Souza (Perez) and David Rose (The Policeman).

Synopsis : A "pentagon" - one of a growing army of dissident groups - prepares to take on the hatred PCD.

The Market Price
TX : 27th February 1978
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : Roger Tucker

Cast :
Lyndon Brook (Peter Greville), Max Harvey (The Reverend Newgate), Ann Curthoys (Mrs Greville), Jane Forster (Jodie Greville), Michael Cassidy (Alf Turner), Olu Jacobs (Alan Msawi), John Ronane (Charles Graydon), Fiona Walker (Miss Dalton), Norman Rutherford (The Surveillance Man), Marc Wolff (The Pilot) and Ken Halliwell and Pat Gorman (The ARC Guards).

Synopsis : "This mate of yours is a shark. With his jaws into whole cargoes. Petrol. Fags. Booze. Grub. It's up to us to nanny him?". When food available in the supermarkets steadily evaporates, Kate Smith's government turns their attention to black marketeers profiting from illicit supplies. Ministry of Food MP Peter Greville feeds Kyle information about the matter, but soon both himself and his family become the focus of suspicion from the Public Control Department.

Trappline
TX : 6th March 1978
Script : Edmund Ward
Director : Peter Sasdy

Cast :
John Paul (Richard Hallam), John Carson (William Grainger), Norman Eshley (Tony Borden), Donald Burton (Harry Blaney), Sandra Payne (Barbara Fairlie) and Peter Diamond (The Thug).

Synopsis : "Who are we out to nail? Careguard, the Home Secretary or Skardon and the PCD?". Jim Kyle is in trouble - he has fallen into the hands of Police Commissioner Hallam.

Ordeal By Small Brown Envelope
TX : 13th March 1978
Script : Edmund Ward
Director : Kenneth Ives

Cast :
Jim Norton (Arthur Haynes), Hermione Gregory (Jane Doran), Donald Burton (Harry Blaney) and John Saunders (Carter).

Synopsis : "Authorised Systematic Harassment has enormous potential. The slow and noiseless steamroller of the State. The daily brown envelope dropping on the mat". The Public Control Department, in response to more dissident remarks printed in the underground press from Kyle and Tony Doran, devise a plan to turn the heat up on the pair by employing a systematic campaign of Authorised Systematic Harrassment (ASH). Using all the bureaucratic mechanisms at his disposal, Skardon launches a tirade of officialdom against the two men, which succeeds in pushing Doran and his wife to breaking-point.


Hire And Fire
TX : 20th March 1978
Script : Edmund Ward
Director : Alan Gibson

Cast :
David Buck (George Molloy), Ken Kitson (Johnny Rolfe), James Greene (Gerald Arnold), Eric French (The Non-Citizen), John Bott (James Conrad), Sally Travers (Mrs Hutchinson), Colin Douglas (Joe Hutchinson), Joseph Brady (Ernest Harrison) and Simon Cadell (Robert Jessup).

Synopsis : "If Kyle can uncover those extortionists where an expert PCD man failed, he is obviously implicated with them". When workers fall prey to an extortionist network collecting money in exchange for their continued silence, Kyle's involvement attracts the attention of PCD controller Skardon, who recognises an opportunity to eliminate the network and the thorn in his side in one stroke.

You'll Never Walk Alone
TX : 27th March 1978
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : David Sullivan Proudfoot

Cast :
Adam Bareham (Alan), David Rintoul (Philip Ross), Geoffrey Burridge (Cyrus Asher), Joyce Carey (Nancy Skardon), James Murray (Abe), Sue Woodley (Annie), Gretta Gouriet (The Newsreader) and Alan Leith (Rickerby).

Synopsis : "Britain is not the land of opportunity … The authorities have refused me an exit visa for the Chess Championship because they fear I might not come back".

Young Sparks
TX : 3rd April 1978
Script : Jim Hawkins
Director : Kenneth Ives

Cast :
Adam Bareham (Alan), George Pravda (Pallin), Julia Schofield (Liz), William Wilde (Riley), Peter Clay (Mayers) and Martin Fisk (Sanders).

Synopsis : "Kyle'll be back to normal in about an hour. Until then he'll probably show an amusing tendency to tell the truth". Groups of dissidents, once-divided in their opposition to the Public Control Department, are putting aside their differences in a bid to bring down the bureaucratic machine in a consolidated movement. Meanwhile, controller Skardon increases his pursuit of Kyle, whom he believes he can break, and thereby shatter the plans of the opposition.

What Pleases The Prince…
TX : 10th April 1978
Script : Wilfred Greatorex
Director : Alan Gibson

Cast :
Michael Tarn (John Brooks), Michael Osborne (Michael Brooks), Primi Townsend (Verna Wells), Jenny Laird (Mrs Brooks), Norman Rutherford (The Surveillance Man), Ysanne Churchman (The PCD Clerk), Edmond Bennett (The Caretaker) and Tony Sibbald (The Newscaster).

Synopsis : "We always said there'd be Peace Crimes Trials one day … We're winning now. There'll have to be a purge of the PCD soon". The success of the dissident assault on the Public Control Department has resulted in the organisation being plunged into bitter in-fighting.


Edward Woodward as Jim Kyle in 1990.

The 1960s was a decade of high-hopes, higher aspirations, a sense of prosperity for all and a time when the word "swinging" could be applied to the time and to the sexual proclivities of those who lived through it. Over the course of ten years, fashions swiftly leapt from one extreme to the other, scientific breakthroughs changed lives, and a creative explosion showered the music and television industries (particularly in the United Kingdom) with some of the best output the world would ever see. BBC Television launched Z-Cars, Doctor Finlay's Casebook, Maigret, Softly Softly, The Troubleshooters and Doctor Who, carving out audience appreciation and dramatic programme schedules, which have long-since been envied by current incumbents at the network.




ITV produced a wide range of medical and espionage serials, but perhaps the programmes which typified the optimism of the decade were The Power Game and The Plane Makers, potent mix of boardroom-bedroom battles which kept audiences returning on a weekly basis. Devised by Wilfred Greatorex, the two series elevated actor Patrick Wymark to stellar status and became, alongside The Avengers, one of the most successful productions the network transmitted over the course of the decade. The 1970s, on the other hand, was virtually diametrically opposed, with fashions taking a turn for the worse (brown proving popular for ten years, and then readily abandoned in favour of bright and vibrant colours in Thatcher's Britain of the 1980s), the world enduring a series of mild recessions, the question of a united Europe dominated the headlines, and public awareness of the power and purpose of government, the measures steadily introduced to control civil unrest, and the sudden realisation that the freedoms enjoyed ten years earlier had evaporated almost overnight.

Into these changing times came Wilfred Greatorex, invited by BBC Television to devise and create a programme as equally compelling as his ITV turns, portraying the "concerns of our time" with a deftness of touch which had become his trademark over the years. Television, film, theatre and literature had often utilised its capacity to reach the mass populace to question and criticise contemporary ways of life, from Chaucer to Dickens and Kennedy Martin to Potter. Some were more successful than others, but the most enduring dramatic device proved to be the futurescape, providing a setting for an attack on contemporary life to further explore the dangers of pursuing a line of reasoning which could only damage the social fabric still-further. George Orwell's 1984 became the most famous example of the successful deployment of this device, and Greatorex took this as his starting-point for the new series, the essential premise of which was best summarised as "1984 Plus Six".


Setting his new series, entitled 1990, in a totalitarian near-future state of a heavily-controlled United Kingdom, Greatorex seems to have responded to his own plight at the hands of the increasing number of VAT men plaguing the general populace. He also capitalised on the paranoia people felt at increasing bureaucracy and administration by government departments, seemingly answerable to no-one. The series took as its "hero" journalist Jim Kyle (Edward Woodward), a dissident-sympathiser working for one of only three remaining newspapers as a Home Affairs correspondent who shared the concerns of Greatorex and the general public. Behind the scenes, he works covertly alongside resistance movements against the all-powerful Department of Public Control (PCD), smuggling academics and victims of the state out of a England in which the populace are constantly under electronic surveillance, food is heavily rationed and visas and permits are required for travel within and outside the country. His struggle against the PCD brought him into direct conflict with Herbert Skardon (Robert Lang), the department's ruthless controller and a man determined to prove Kyle's complicity at every opportunity.

Over the course of eight episodes in Autumn 1977, the power struggle between the two was seen to culminate in a farcical trial in which the department used all the services it could muster in a bid to prosecute Kyle, which failed to strip him of his citizenship. Such was the popularity of what was essentially a thriller serial, and in opposition to some media criticism concerning the programme's carping tone, 1990 returned in Winter 1978 for a further eight hour-length episodes in which Kyle continued his efforts against the Establishment (as personified by Skardon) and the female minister, Lynn Blake, portrayed by the attractive Lisa Harrow. As equally popular as the first outing, 1990 rapidly fell into cult status over the course of its broadcast, and remains today an outstanding example of a televisual 1984.

The series provided a platform for Edward Woodward to consolidate the strengths inherent in his previous high-profile role in Callan, and extend the limitations of that role far further as Kyle, a character with true depth, conviction and emotional range. He succeeded in breaking away from the stigma which had dogged his career since Callan, and was ably supported by the likes of Paul Hardwick, Barbara Kellermann, Clifton Jones, John Savident, Michael Napier Brown, George Murcell, Yvonne Mitchell and Clive Swift. Produced by reliable BBC hand Prudence Fitzgerald, the programme featured script contributions from Greatorex, Edmund Ward, Jim Hawkins and Arden Winch, with directorial turns from Alan Gibson, David Sullivan Proudfoot, Kenneth Ives, Rob Bird, Peter Sasdy and Roger Tucker. The series was globally exported, but the only commercial spin-off were two television tie-in novelisations spanning both series of the programme. A complete run of both seasons exist in the BBC Archive, but the series is not currently avaialbel in either VHS or DVD format. A release is long overdue.


Text © Matthew Lee, 2004.

Characters
Portrayed By
Jim Kyle
Edward Woodoward
Herbert Skadron
Robert Lang
Dave Brett
Tony Doyle
Faceless (Maudsley)
Paul Hardwick
Delly Lomas (Series 1)
Barbara Kellerman
Henry Tasker (Series 1)
Clifton Jones
Dan Mellor (Series 1)
John Savident
Jack Nichols (Series 1)
Michael Napier Brown
Marly (Series 1)
Honor Shepherd
Tommy Pearce (Series 1)
Mathias Kilroy
Greaves (Series 1)
George Murcell
Lynne Blake (Series 2)
Lisa Harrow
Kate Smith (Series 2)
Yvonne Mitchell
Tony Doran (Series 2)
Clive Swift
Digger Radford (Series 2)
Stanley Lebor
PCD Inspector Macrae (Series 2)
David McKail

The series was created by Wilfred Greatorex. Both seasons were produced by Prudence Fitzgerald. The signature tune for the series was provided by John Cameron.
 
 
Please note synopsis are taken from the original Radio Times listings for the day of transmission.