Thursday, 6 February 2014

Tuesday 31 December 1963

Hooray! TV Minus 50 has finally made it to the end of 1963.  It's felt like a very long year...

Tonight's Plane Makers begins aboard a demonstration flight for one of Scott-Furlong's Sovereign jets, heading back from India.  As pilot Henry "Auntie" Forbes goes to check on his passengers it's exciting (for me at least that one of them (supposedly Indian) is played by prolific bit-part actor Kenneth Benda, who has my favourite name of any performer (here he's credited as C. Kenneth Benda, which is even better).

Also aboard the plane is Sir Gerald Merle, Labour MP, Scott-Furlong board member and sworn enemy of John Wilder.  His reappearance suggests there's trouble brewing for the company's Managing Director.

In the immediate present, though, things look pretty rosy for Mr Wilder.  His (self-interested) actions last week in averting mass redundancies at the factory (picked over in exasperating detail here) have made him flavour of the month with union chief Jeremy Bessiter (Harold Innocent), who's planted a puff piece about him in The Daily Globe insisting he deserves a knighthood.  Innocent's fruity tones mark Bessiter out as one of a new breed of middle class union man, who socially has far more in common with Wilder than the workforce he represents.   They also help to make the lengthy chat between he and Wilder recounting the events of the previous episode more bearable (few actors could do more with dialogue like "He preferred to listen to some rattle-pated gibbering computer" than Innocent.  And of course, far more important than any of this is Kay Lingard's hairdo, which grows more baroque with each passing week.

Meanwhile, Scott-Furlong chairman Sir Gordon Revidge decides to join forces with Sir Gerald and give the hated Wilder the boot.  Perhaps the rest of the scene wasn't sufficiently interesting, or perhaps I've just been doing this blog too long, but I couldn't help observing that in his offices at Albertson's merchant bank, Sir Gordon has the very same coffee cups as Wilder.  Fascinating stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

It's great to see the always entertaining Barbara Murray back for the first time in ages as Wilder's wife Pam. They seem to have made up since she ruined his chances of becoming chairman, but she still gets in the odd dig at his mistress.  With rumours in the air about John receiving a knighthood in the New Year's honours list, she's anxious to know whether the invites to his forthcoming birthday party should be from John and Pamela Wilder or Sir John and Lady Wilder.

Wilder's aware of the simmering plots to get rid of him, but he's hoping his shares in the company might help to improve his position.  Inspired by this talk of shares, Pam sounds Auntie out about the possibility of meeting up with a stockbroker friend of his.  Pam and Auntie's relationship is very sweet: although his sexual orientation (if he even has one) is likely to remain an open question, he seems every inch the gay best friend, enthusiastically educating her in his music collection, and even teaching her knitting.

Auntie's broker friend, Mr Telliter (John Wentworth) seems even more of an old queen.  When he meets with Pam she's stunned by the revelation that the shares she and her husband own in Scott-Furlong now number 250,000 each, and that between them they have more shares than anyone else.

As the end of the year approaches and Wilder receives no notification of his longed-for knighthood, Revidge closes in, and demands the Managing Director's resignation: he plans to move him to another company Albertson's has an interest in - in Australia.  Wilder, who knows full well how many shares he owns in the company, threatens to sell his and Pam's all at once, leaving the door open for a takeover bid.  Revidge says he's prepared to take the risk in order to be rid of Wilder, but the announcement of the news that a quarter of a million shares have just been released on the market reveals he was bluffing: he agrees Wilder (who conceals the fact he knows nothing about it) can stay on if he'll just stop the sale of any more.

A delighted Wilder returns home to discover his unwitting saviour is Pam, who's been having a wild adventure on the stock market, encouraging Mr Telliter to sell, buy, sell and buy back all afternoon.  She's ended the day as Scott-Furlong's biggest single shareholder: "Doesn't this make me your boss, in some kind of way?"

On that unexpected note, we wave goodbye to 1963.  I hope you've enjoyed my ramblings here: there's more to come in '64.  And I wish you a very happy new year!

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