Armchair Thriller

Armchair Thriller is a British television drama series broadcast on ITV in 1978 and 1980 in two seasons. Taking the form of a sequence of unconnected serials, scripts for Armchair Thriller were adaptations of published novels and stories. Although not strictly a horror series, it did sometimes include supernatural elements. Armchair Thriller was mainly produced by Thames Television, but it included two serials from Southern Television. The format was of 25-minute episodes broadcast twice-weekly, usually screened on a Tuesday or Thursday between 8 pm and 9 pm.

Armchair Thriller
Armchair Thriller.png
GenreHorror, thriller
Theme music composerAndy Mackay
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes55
Production
Executive producerAndrew Brown
ProducersAndrew Brown,
Jacqueline Davis,
Brenda Ennisp
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running timec. 23–26 minutes per episode
Production companiesThames Television
Southern Television
Release
Original networkITV
Picture formatPAL 4:3
Audio formatMono
Original release21 February 1978 (1978-02-21) –
30 December 1981 (1981-12-30)

OverviewEdit

The opening titles consisted of a shadow-figure walking to an armchair and then sitting down, accompanied by music composed by Andy Mackay of pop group Roxy Music. Some trailers for the series showed the same armchair soaked in blood and a screaming, maniacal face; these received criticism from those who considered them too horrific for pre-watershed viewing. For Armchair Thriller broadcasts Thames Television changed the station ident it used; normally it showed a London landscape in daytime, but here it was the same view as though seen at night. Ratings reached more than 17 million viewers during the broadcast of the first episode of "The Limbo Connection" in May 1978.[1]

The first series included an adaptation of Antonia Fraser's 1977 novel Quiet as a Nun. This introduced to television the character of Jemima Shore—who was later spun off into her own ITV series—and starred Maria Aitken. "Quiet as a Nun" features a cliffhanger sequence where the 'Black Nun' appeared. Other actors to appear included Ian McKellen and Denis Lawson.[2]

EpisodesEdit

Series 1Edit

No.TitleNo. of episodesDirected byWritten byCastProduction companyOriginal air date
1"Rachel in Danger"4Waris HusseinJohn BowenDella Low (Rachel), Stephen Greif (Juan), Eiko Nakamura (Aiyako), Neville Jason (Peter), George Waring (Police Sergeant), John Joyce (C.I.D. Sgt.), Harry Littlewood (Caretaker)Thames21 February – 2 March 1978 (21 February – 2 March 1978)
2"A Dog's Ransom"6Donald McWhinnieJohn BowenBenjamin Whitrow (Edward Reynolds), Zena Walker (Gina Reynolds), Susie Blake (Marion Dowell), Paul Angelis (Tom Choley), Leon Eagles (Kowajinski), Prentis Hancock (Desk Sergeant), Neville Barber (Chief Superintendent), David Hargreaves (Ken Holbrook), Ray Armstong (Duty Inspector), Linal Haft (Cookson), Rayner Bourton (Jim), Frank Wylie (Inspector Craig)Thames9–23 March 1978 (9–23 March 1978)
3"The Girl Who Walked Quickly"4Brian FarnhamRay JenkinsDenis Lawson (David Cooper), Phyllida Nash (Liz), Clive Merrison (Godolt), Barry Stanton (Swift), John Gregg (Everly), Oliver Smith (1st Helper), Luke Hanson (2nd Helper), Derek Benfield (Mr. Cooper), Colin McCormack (Det. Sgt. Bowen), Martin Fisk (Explosive Officer), Neil Hallett (Commander Lambert), Martyn Whitby (Sniper No. 2)Thames28 March – 6 April 1978 (28 March – 6 April 1978)
4"Quiet as a Nun"6Moira ArmstrongJulia JonesMaria Aitken (Jemima Shore), Renée Asherson (Mother Ancilla), Brenda Bruce (Sister Elizabeth), David Burke (Tom Amyas), Patsy Kensit (Tessa), Mary Healey (Beatrice O’Dowd), James Appleby (Joe), Susan Engel (Sister Agnes), James Laurenson (Alexander Skarbek), Sylvia Coleridge (Sister Boniface), John Bryans (Sir Charles)Thames18–27 April 1978 (18–27 April 1978)
5"The Limbo Connection"6Robert TronsonPhilip MackieJames Bolam (Mark Omney), Rosalind Ayres (Annabella Fraser), Michael Culver (Dr. Walcott Brown), Beatrix Lehmann (Blanche Terraine), Vass Anderson (Soames), Alan Ford (Bill), Christopher Benjamin (Det. Inspector Tarrant), Peter Welch (Mechanic), Aimée Delamain (Mrs. Franklyn), Arthur Blake (Mr. Dyer), Milton Johns (Tim Kennaway), Rosamund Greenwood (Mrs. Woldingham)Thames2–18 May 1978 (2–18 May 1978)

Series 2Edit

No.TitleNo. of episodesDirected byWritten byCastProduction companyOriginal air date
6"The Victim"6Gareth DaviesMichael AsheDavid Beckett (Frankie Martin), Lorna Yabsley (Sue Craig), Steve Morley (Len Trace), John Shrapnel (Vincent Craig), Paul Jerricho (Harry Turner), Godfrey James (Chief Supt. Lewis), Edward Burnham (Professor Manson), Alan Bennion (Praed), Bernard Kay (Neecham), Dominic Letts (Betting Shop Assistant), Jerold Wells (1st Dosser), Richard McNeff (Chief Prison Officer)Thames8–24 January 1980 (8–24 January 1980)
7"Dead Man's Kit"4Colin BuckseyTom ClenaghanLarry Lamb (CPO Chalkey White), Philip Locke (Cmdr. Lloyd), Maurice Colbourne (Lt. Cmdr. Kobahl), Clive Merrison (Commander Maybury), Paul Kember (Peters), Jamie Foreman (Operator 1), Timothy Block (Operator 2), Richard Kane (Winterman), William Russell (Senior Officer)Southern29 January – 7 February 1980 (29 January – 7 February 1980)
8"Dying Day"4Robert TronsonJohn BowenIan McKellen (Anthony Skipling), Maurice Kaufmann (1st Interrogator), Prentis Hancock (2nd Interrogator), Patrick Malahide (Police Sergeant), Michael Troughton (Police Constable), Peter Childs (Sellars), Cyril Shaps (Mountjoy)Thames12–21 February 1980 (12–21 February 1980)
9"Fear of God"4Robert TronsonTroy Kennedy MartinBryan Marshall (Paul Marriot), Alun Armstrong (Trahearne), Peter Cellier (Maitland), Michael Sheard (Colonel Morgan), Garrick Hagon (Walters), Roger Brierley (Vic), David Graham (Vicar), David Healy (Anvil), Laurence Harrington (Sub-Editor), Lionel Sansby (Ambulance Man), Susan Sheridan (Voice of Rosamund)Thames26 February – 6 March 1980 (26 February – 6 March 1980)
10"High Tide"4Colin BuckseyAndrew BrownIan McShane (Peter Curtis), Wendy Morgan (Celia), Terence Rigby (Matthews), John Bird (Cyril), Malcolm Terris (Maxwell)Southern11–20 March 1980 (11–20 March 1980)
11"The Circe Complex"6Robert D. CardonaDavid HopkinsBeth Morris (Val Foreman), Trevor Martin (Tom Foreman), Alan David (Ollie Milton), Gareth Forwood (Dr. Crampton), James Hazeldine (Dave), Geoffrey Colville (Prison Governor), Eric Francis (Mr. Evans), Marc Boyle (Policeman), Derek Ware (O’Brady), Neil Daglish (Det. Sgt. Rees), Victor Winding (Det. Insp. Sayers)Thames25 March – 10 April 1980 (25 March – 10 April 1980)
12"The Chelsea Murders"1Derek BennettJonathan HalesMichael Feast (Steve), Guy Gregory (Artie), Antony Carrick (Summers), Chris Gannon (Publican), Lucy Griffiths (Mrs. Bulstrode), Doug Sheldon (Otto), David Yip (Denny), Richard Hampton (Editor), Ian Liston (Policeman), Ishaq Bux (Arab Servant)Thames30 December 1981 (1981-12-30)
Originally made as a 6-episode story, but unscreened in this form; eventually broadcast edited into a single feature-length (104 mins.) standalone programme (i.e. not under the Armchair Thriller umbrella title).

DVD releasesEdit

The ten Thames-produced serials were released by Network in 2008, both as separate stories and as a box-set. The Southern Television-produced "Dead Man's Kit" and "High Tide" were released separately, in 2009 and 2010 respectively, by Simply Home Entertainment.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Armchair Thriller (1978)". Television Heaven. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011.
  2. ^ Armchair Thriller fansite

External linksEdit