Billy Smart Forgotten Television Drama John Hill Lez Cooke Royal Holloway Uncategorized

About the Project

This is the official blog of the ‘History of Forgotten Television Drama in the UK’ project, Royal Holloway, University of London.

This 4-year AHRC-funded project has explored why many television dramas made in the regions and nations of the UK between 1946 and 1982 have been ‘forgotten’ while others have been elevated to the canon of ‘classic’ British television dramas (where ‘British’ often means ‘English’).

While there may be good reason why some dramas have been forgotten, perhaps because they no longer exist, the project seeks to uncover a ‘lost history’ of UK television drama by bringing to light dramas that still exist but which may not have been seen since their initial transmission.

Part of the project has been concerned to uncover dramas produced in the regions and nations of the UK which, in some cases, may only have been seen in their region of production, in order to bring them to a wider audience, perhaps for the first time. In doing so, the project aims to broaden our sense of television history and raise questions about what is regarded as ‘classic TV’.

Although official AHRC funding has now ended, the blog is being maintained and we are happy for others to contribute to the blog. If you would like to write something on some aspect of forgotten TV drama for this site, please contact John Hill at


Principal Investigator – Professor John Hill.

Co-investigator – Dr Lez Cooke.

Research Officer – Dr Billy Smart.

14 replies on “About the Project”

Do you know this play? As far as I know it was broadcast once. Thus : A married pensioner couple live in a flat with their cat, called Mr ??? The wife steals a tin of salmon whilst out shopping and goes home to her husband. Meanwhile a robber is on the loose being chased by police. The robber runs into the block of flats where the married couple live. The police make flat to flat calls incase the robber has gone in one. When they get to the married couple, the married couple think the police are there because the wife stole the tin of salmon and so the couple won’t answer the door, so the police think the robber must be in there. They ask the couple through the door if anyone else is in there, the couple say “yes” meaning their cat. The police ask the name and they say Mr ??? thus the police think this is the name of the robber and that he has the couple as hostages and they ask to speak to Mr ??? And the couple think they are mad and tell them that Mr ??? can’t talk to them, the police presume that the robber won’t talk to them and will only converse through the couple. The couple do not have a telephone so the police give them one so that they can talk to them, the couple think it’s great that the police have give them a free telephone !!! The story continues but I expect I’ve told you enough !! …unless you’d like to know the rest of it !! in which case just ask !!!! Its a great play and very funny but I’ve no idea what it’s called, maybe you can please help ? Knowing me I’ll probably track it down tomorrow after all this !!!!! Many thanks. Think it’s great what you’re doing !! 🙂

Queens Jubilee
All bunting and street party prep. Mother with kids has break down. Poor and suffering mental
Health makes hot chcolate for all and kills them all as is laced with poison.
Can’t recall dramatist/ playwright 1980s

My reason for enquiring is that in the 1970s I watched a Scottish crime drama over 3/4 episodes called The Bloodletting which had me glued to the screen from start to finish. However, I have never seen it shown again and none of my friends or family remember it. I wonder if it has gone the way of many screenings and been erased/recorded over.

The Blood-Letting was a three part thriller shown over consecutive nights on BBC1 Scotland from the 31 December 1977 to January 2 1978. BBC Scotland made quite a number of such serials between the late sixties and the early 1980s, but this was one of the very few that appears never to have been broadcast outside Scotland. The series survives in the archives.

Full details:

Usual duration: 50 minutes

Main regular credit(s):
Written by Tom Wright; designed by Archie Clark; produced by Pharic Maclaren; directed by Bob McIntosh.

Main regular cast:
Donald Burton (Steven Marshall), Caroline Mortimer (Joan Henderson), Ian McCulloch (Henry MacNaughton), Bernard Horsfall (Inspector Macreadie).

Episode 1

With Anna Pitt (Marjorie Marshall), Prentis Hancock (Garry Walsh), David Gallacher, Wilma Duncan, Jake D’Arcy, Bill Paterson, Julie Agnew, Ian Halliburton, Peter Finlay, Shenah Douglas.

Episode 2

With Prentis Hancock (Garry Walsh), Frank Wylie (Newsvendor), Alec Heggie (Bagpiper Macnab), Ken Henderson, Martin Cochrane, Joan Fitzpatrick, James Kennedy, E. J. P. Mace, Shenah Douglas.

Episode 3

With Anna Pitt (Marjorie Marshall), Frank Wylie (Newsvendor), Alec Heggie (Bagpiper Macnab), Anne Kristen.

This is a nice site. Does anyone have any memory of an Irish play that appeared on late-night TV in perhaps 1979 or 1980, featuring an itinerant Irish con man/trickster, who may have been called ‘the Shiner’ or similar? I only remember a scene where he tricks an innkeeper into giving him a lot of free whisky. I think he has a glass flagon half full of tea (the shade of whisky) and then drops a bit of actual whisky on the cork. He asks the landlord to fill it all the way up, and the suspicious landlord of sniffs the cork to verify that the flagon contains ‘whisky’ and tops it up with actual whisky. The trickster then ‘changes his mind’ and 50% of the flagon’s contents are returned to the barman, leaving the drifter/trickster and his companion back on the road with a nice tea/whisky mix. That scene has always stuck in my mind for some reason. Not much to go on, but maybe worth a try! I don’t know whether it was a BBC or an ITV broadcast.

vaguely remember a 1970s sunday night yorkshire tv ?play with shane briant about an ambitious man on the make unable to get out of the top floor which he has forced his way into. Harry…??

Your memory is correct! ‘Do You Remember?: The File On Harry Jordan’ (Yorkshire Television, tx: 4 June 1978 w. Jean Benedetti d. Gerry Mill) –

This was actually the second time that the play had been produced for television, the first being a Rediffusion version under the series title ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ (16 May 1966) with Barry Foster as Harry Jordan. This earlier version does not survive in the archives.

just seen “shuttlecock” a play for today from 1976. It reminded me of another b+w sunday night play about a child abused by a family. I remember clearly a scene of the abandoned child staring out of a window as the family go on holiday without him. Any ideas?

From a very long time ago now (B/W era) I remember at least the title sequence of a series. The title sequence was very apt for what the hour had installed for us. All done in stark silhouette, It consisted of someone opening up a building, . It would start in black then the first door would open let in a bit of light, said person would then open more doors/windows and let in increasing amounts of light as the captions played. IIRC the end titles were sort of in reverse as I suppose said person locked up for the night..Not a thriller,detective series as it had lots of women in it but dramas nonetheless.

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