Thriller (British TV series)

Thriller is a British television series, originally broadcast in the UK from 1973 to 1976.[1] It is an anthology series: each episode has a self-contained story and its own cast.[2] As the title suggests, each story is a thriller of some variety, from tales of the supernatural to down-to-earth whodunits.[3]

UK opening titles
Created byBrian Clemens
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes43
Running time63–67 min.
Original release
Release14 April 1973 (1973-04-14) –
22 May 1976 (1976-05-22)

Background edit

The series was created by Brian Clemens, who also scripted the majority of the episodes and story-lined every installment.[2] It was produced by John Sichel (the first three series), John Cooper (series 4) and Ian Fordyce (the final two series) for Associated Television (ATV) at its Elstree studios north of London.[4] The series evolved from Clemens' previous work, in particular two films in a similar style: And Soon the Darkness (1970) and Blind Terror (aka See No Evil, 1971); the latter shares plot similarities with the Thriller episodes "The Eyes Have It" and "The Next Voice You See".[5][6] Original music, including the theme tune, was supplied by Clemens' regular collaborator Laurie Johnson.[7]

The original UK title sequence featured still shots of locations in the story, devoid of people, shot through a fisheye lens, bordered in bright red and set to Johnson's eerie, discordant theme music.[2] With an eye to the American re-broadcast market, most episodes, especially from the second season onwards, featured at least one American principal character, portrayed by an American actor.[8] After originally being screened late at night in the U.S. under the ABC Wide World of Entertainment billing from 1973, some episodes were retitled for U.S. syndication in 1978, and all had additional opening sequences shot with new titles and credits but without the original cast and, for this reason, often only featuring menacing figures seen from the neck down.[9][8] These title sequences were used in Britain when the series was repeated on regional ITV stations in the 1980s, and are also included as extras on the Complete Series box set. When the series was re-broadcast as part of The CBS Late Movie however, the original title sequences and music were restored.

The stories were often set in the London commuter belt. A particular trademark of the series' storytelling was to hook the viewer with a simple yet totally baffling situation, of the kind seen in films such as Les Diaboliques (1955).[10] "Come Out Come Out, Wherever You Are" takes place at a creaky country house hotel: a female guest begins asking about her missing travelling companion whom the owner claims was not with her upon arrival the previous evening and whom none of the other guests initially recall seeing.[11] One episode, "Screamer", concerns a rape victim who murders her attacker, only to then see the man stalking her everywhere.[12] Perhaps the most ingenious[editorializing] episode is the Dial M for Murder-style "The Double Kill", in which a man hires a hitman to kill his wife, but makes a fatal error in his otherwise meticulous planning.[13]

Other memorable episodes include: "Someone at the Top of the Stairs", one of a handful of forays into the supernatural, in which two female students move into a boarding house and begin to notice that none of the other residents ever go out or receive any mail; and "I'm The Girl He Wants to Kill", in which a witness to a murder finds herself trapped in a deserted office block overnight with the killer, and is forced to play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with him to survive (there is barely any dialogue throughout its second half).[9][14] Brian Clemens' own favourite episode, "A Coffin for the Bride" (US: Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill), featured a performance from a young Helen Mirren.[15]

Following a worldwide audit during 2003–04 by the then copyright-holders Carlton, almost all the original UK PAL fisheye-titled 2" videotapes of Thriller were located and transferred onto modern digital tape by the British Film Institute, with subsequent restoration work by BBC Resources. One exception was the story "Nurse Will Make It Better"; however, this too exists in PAL/original format on the later 1" videotape format as a dub from the original master tape (this version was broadcast on the satellite channel Bravo in 1996).

In 2008 a DVD box set containing all six series was released.

Episodes edit

For episodes that used a different title in the U.S., the U.S. title is shown in italics underneath the original British title.

Series 1 (1973) edit

No. in
TitleCastOriginal air date
11"Lady Killer"[16]
"The Death Policy"
Barbara Feldon, Robert Powell, Linda Thorson, T. P. McKenna, Mary Wimbush, John Boswall, Ivor Roberts, Howard Rawlinson, Ronald Mayer, David Billa14 April 1973 (1973-04-14)
22"Possession"John Carson, Joanna Dunham, Hilary Hardiman, Athol Coats, James Cossins, Richard Aylen, Jack Galloway, Mary Ann Severne21 April 1973 (1973-04-21)
33"Someone at the Top of the Stairs"Donna Mills, Judy Carne, David de Keyser, Francis Wallis, Alethea Charlton, Brian McGrath, Peter Cellier, Clifford Parrish, Scott Forbes, Rhoda Lewis, Alan Roberto, Laura Collins, Richard Corbet, Charles Hill28 April 1973 (1973-04-28)
44"An Echo of Theresa"
"Anatomy of Terror"
Paul Burke, Polly Bergen, Dinsdale Landen, Basil Henson, Vernon Dobtcheff, Meriel Brooke, William Job, Roger Hume, Larry Taylor, Betty Woolfe, Neville Phillips, Ted Richards, John Caesar5 May 1973 (1973-05-05)
55"The Colour of Blood"
"The Carnation Killer"
Norman Eshley, Katherine Schofield, Derek Smith, Garrick Hagon, Geoffrey Chater, Malcolm Terris, Tim Wylton, A. J. Brown, Roy Sone, Eric Mason, Michael Corcoran, Godfrey Jackman12 May 1973 (1973-05-12)
66"Murder in Mind"Richard Johnson, Zena Walker, Donald Gee, Ronald Radd, Robert Dorning, Christina Greatrex, Anthony Boden, David Lampson19 May 1973 (1973-05-19)
77"A Place to Die"Bryan Marshall, Alexandra Hay, John Turner, Glynn Edwards, Sally Stephens, Juan Moreno, Georgine Anderson, Lila Kaye, Sydney Bromley, Jenny Laird, Peggy Ann Wood, Graham Weston, Bill Ward, John Flint, Arnold Ridley, Harold Bennett, Elsie Wagstaff, John Gabriel, Lewis Wilson26 May 1973 (1973-05-26)
88"File It Under Fear"Maureen Lipman, Richard O'Callaghan, Jan Francis, James Grout, John Le Mesurier, Colin Fisher, Rose Hill, Richard Pendrey, John Nightingale, Jenny Quayle, Georgina Melville, Sue Bond2 June 1973 (1973-06-02)
99"The Eyes Have It"Peter Vaughan, Dennis Waterman, William Marlowe, Sinéad Cusack, Leslie Schofield, David Jackson, Michael Lees, Alun Armstrong, Colin McCormack, Angela Walker, Catherine Chase, David Sands9 June 1973 (1973-06-09)
1010"Spell of Evil"Diane Cilento, Edward de Souza, Jeremy Longhurst, Jennifer Daniel, William Dexter, Iris Russell, Martin Wyldeck, Philip Anthony, Linda Cunningham, David Belcher, Reg Lye, Patricia Kneale16 June 1973 (1973-06-16)

Series 2 (1974) edit

No. in
TitleCastOriginal air date
111"Only a Scream Away"[17]Hayley Mills, Gary Collins, Joyce Carey, David Warbeck, Jeremy Bulloch, Jonathan Elsom, Ronald Mayer, Barrie Fletcher, Richard Beaumont, Candida Brown26 January 1974 (1974-01-26)
122"Once the Killing Starts"Patrick O'Neal, Angharad Rees, Michael Kitchen, Gerald Sim, Gary Watson, Patricia Donahue, Terry Wright2 February 1974 (1974-02-02)
133"Kiss Me and Die"
"The Savage Curse"
Jenny Agutter, George Chakiris, Anton Diffring, Russell Hunter, John Sharpe, Stephen Greif, Peggy Sinclair, John Atkinson, Barry James, Raymond Mason, Sue Robinson, Peter Casillas, Peter Elliott9 February 1974 (1974-02-09)
144"One Deadly Owner"Donna Mills, Jeremy Brett, Robert Morris, Laurence Payne, Eric Lander, Michael Beint, Anthony Dawes, Bob Holness, Ray Marioni16 February 1974 (1974-02-16)
155"Ring Once for Death"
"Death in Small Doses"
Michael Jayston, Nyree Dawn Porter, Barry Nelson, Thorley Walters, Janet Key, Victor Winding, Clare Sutcliffe, Richard Oldfield23 February 1974 (1974-02-23)
166"K is for Killing"
"Color Him Dead"
Gayle Hunnicutt, Stephen Rea, Jean Kent, Christopher Cazenove, Peter Dyneley, Derek Francis, Frances Bennett, Shirley Cain, Oliver Smith, Arthur White, James Appleby, Sally Miles, Francis Mortimer, Gilly Flower2 March 1974 (1974-03-02)
177"Sign it Death"Francesca Annis, Patrick Allen, Moira Redmond, Edward Judd, Gerald James, Barry Stanton, James Bate, Sheila Fearn, Jackie Tong, John Arnatt, Leon Eagles, Jeremy Pearce, Carmen Blanck, Alan Bennion, Sonia Graham, Lisa Young, Jimmy Gardner, Stuart Nichol9 March 1974 (1974-03-09)

Series 3 (1974) edit

No. in
TitleCastOriginal air date
181"A Coffin for the Bride"[15]
"Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill"
Michael Jayston, Helen Mirren, Michael Gwynn, Richard Coleman, Margaret Courtenay, Josephine Tewson, Arthur English, Tony Steedman, Marcia Fox, Hugh Morton, Richard Hampton, Jeffrey Taylor, Peter Mackriel, Mark Rodbert1 June 1974 (1974-06-01)
192"I'm the Girl He Wants to Kill"Robert Lang, Julie Sommars, Tony Selby, Anthony Steel, Ken Jones, Trisha Hooker, Geoffrey Whitehead, Susan Tracy, Colin Haig, Annette Woollett, Patrick Connor, Robert Oates8 June 1974 (1974-06-08)
203"Death to Sister Mary"
"Murder is a One-Act Play"
George Maharis, Robert Powell, Jennie Linden, Anthony Newlands, Joan Haythorne, Derek Fowlds, Leigh Lawson, Gerry Cowan, Windsor Davies, Norman Mitchell, Jill Shakespeare, Maggie Rennie15 June 1974 (1974-06-15)
214"In the Steps of a Dead Man"John Nolan, Richard Vernon, Denise Buckley, Faith Brook, Skye Aubrey, Derek Anders, Christopher Benjamin, Anne Robson, John Garvin, Robert Marsh22 June 1974 (1974-06-22)
225"Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are"Lynda Day George, Peter Jeffrey, John Carson, Colette O'Neil, Bernard Holley, Richard Corbet, Kathleen Mallory, John Line, Molly Weir, Kevin Brennan29 June 1974 (1974-06-29)
236"The Next Scream You Hear"
"Not Guilty"
Dinsdale Landen, Richard Todd, Suzanne Neve, Edward Hardwicke, Derek Bond, Christopher George, Hans Meyer, Frank Wylie, Andrew Mann, Marian Diamond, Belinda Mayne, Simon Merrick6 July 1974 (1974-07-06)

Series 4 (1975) edit

No. in
TitleCastOriginal air date
241"Screamer"[12]Pamela Franklin, Donal McCann, Frances White, Jim Norton, Derek Smith, Wolfe Morris, Peter Howell, Harry Walker, Stephen Bateman, Ambrosine Phillpotts, Michael Hall, Carinthia West4 January 1975 (1975-01-04)
252"Nurse Will Make It Better"Andrea Marcovicci, Diana Dors, Ed Bishop, Cec Linder, Michael Culver, Linda Liles, Tiffany Kinney, Patrick Troughton, Alan Wilson, John Rapley, Wendy Williams11 January 1975 (1975-01-11)
"The Devil's Web"
"Night Nurse"
263"Night is the Time for Killing"
"Murder on the Midnight Express"
Judy Geeson, Charles Gray, Jim Smilie, Jeffry Wickham, Edward Burnham, Anthony Nash, Jacki Piper, Duncan Preston, Milos Kirek, Alister Williamson, Robert MacLeod, Reg Pritchard, Aimée Delamain, Bill Horsley18 January 1975 (1975-01-18)
274"Killer with Two Faces"Donna Mills, Ian Hendry, Roddy McMillan, David Lodge, Robin Parkinson, Susan Dury, Jonathan Dennis, Hazel McBride, Seretta Wilson, Christine Shaw, Susannah MacMillan, James Greene, Ralph Ball, John Saunders25 January 1975 (1975-01-25)
285"A Killer in Every Corner"Patrick Magee, Joanna Pettet, Max Wall, Eric Flynn, Don Henderson, Petra Markham, Peter Settelen1 February 1975 (1975-02-01)
296"Where the Action Is"
"The Killing Game"
Edd Byrnes, James Berwick, Ingrid Pitt, Trevor Baxter, George Innes, Frank Coda, Oliver McGreevy, Larry Cross, Suzannah Williams, Ray Marioni8 February 1975 (1975-02-08)

Series 5 (1975) edit

No. in
TitleCastOriginal air date
301"If It's a Man, Hang Up"[18]Carol Lynley, Gerald Harper, David Gwillim, Tom Conti, Michael Byrne, Paul Angelis, John Cater, Colin Etherington, Susan Holderness, Jo Beadle, Michael Cronin, Martin Chamberlain, Beatrice Shaw12 April 1975 (1975-04-12)
312"The Double Kill"Gary Collins, James Villiers, Peter Bowles, Stuart Wilson, Penelope Horner, John Flanagan, Hilda Fenemore, Griffith Davies, Michael Stainton, Gordon Salkilld, Norman Mitchell, Paul Nicholson19 April 1975 (1975-04-19)
323"Won't Write Home Mom - I'm Dead"
"Terror from Within"
Ian Bannen, Pamela Franklin, Suzanne Neve, Oliver Tobias, Dallas Adams, Lesley North, Norman Scace, Christopher Malcolm, Anabel Littledale, Diana Patrick, Sarah Porter26 April 1975 (1975-04-26)
334"The Crazy Kill"
"Fear is Spreading"
Denholm Elliott, Anthony Valentine, Tandy Cronyn, Alan Browning, Claire Nielson, Juan Moreno, David Horovitch, Ken Parry, Dennis Chinnery, Brian Haines, Mark Wing-Davey3 May 1975 (1975-05-03)
345"Good Salary - Prospects - Free Coffin"
"Mirror of Deception"
James Maxwell, Kim Darby, Keith Barron, Julian Glover, Susan Dury, Gillian Hawser, John Abineri, Bruce Boa, Janina Faye, Martin Read, Reg Lye, Peter Hill, Julie Crosthwaite, Karl Held, Annette Woollett, Norman Chancer, Christina Palmer, James Greene10 May 1975 (1975-05-10)
356"The Next Voice You See"
"Look Back in Darkness"
Bradford Dillman, Catherine Schell, Geoffrey Chater, Terence Sewards, Nigel Havers, Rachel Davies, Neil Hallett, John Oxley, Annette Lynton, Ian Redford, Roger Mutton, Peter Geddis, Holly Palance, John Forbes-Robertson, Robert Lankesheer, Stan Tracey, Celia Foxe, Anthea Holloway, Paddy Glynn, Hedger Wallace, William Wilde, Eilian Wyn17 May 1975 (1975-05-17)
367"Murder Motel"Robyn Millan, Ralph Bates, Edward Judd, Derek Francis, Allan McClelland, John Hallam, Anne Rutter, June Watson, Gillian McCutcheon, Patrick Jordan, Paul Humpoletz, Patrick Tull, Keith Anderson, Lynne Miller, Adrian Shergold, Peter Mackriel24 May 1975 (1975-05-24)

Series 6 (1976) edit

No. in
TitleCastOriginal air date
371"Sleepwalker"[19]Darleen Carr, Robert Beatty, Michael Kitchen, Ian Redford, Basil Lord, Elaine Donnelly, Eileen Peel, Harry Webster, John Challis, Desmond Jordan, Jane Williams, George Herbert10 April 1976 (1976-04-10)
382"The Next Victim"Carroll Baker, T. P. McKenna, Ronald Lacey, Maurice Kaufmann, Max Mason, Ian Gelder, Brenda Cavendish, Martin Benson, Margo Reid, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Paul Haley, Andrea Allan, Martin Fisk, Dorothea Phillips, Harold Bennett, Alan Gerrard, Felicity Harrison, Patsy Dermott17 April 1976 (1976-04-17)
393"Nightmare for a Nightingale"
"Melody of Hate"
Susan Flannery, Keith Baxter, Sydney Tafler, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Stuart Damon, Gita Denise, Stephen Greif, Peter Hill, Anthony Dawes, Edwin Brown, Michael Dickinson, Mike Kinsey, Charles Cork, Teresa Cahill (singing), Richard Lewis (singing)24 April 1976 (1976-04-24)
404"Dial a Deadly Number"Gary Collins, Gemma Jones, Beth Morris, Linda Liles, Cavan Kendall, Peter Schofield, Richard Warner, Charles Lamb (actor), Dennis Blanch1 May 1976 (1976-05-01)
415"Kill Two Birds"
"Cry Terror!"
Susan Hampshire, Gabrielle Drake, David Daker, Dudley Sutton, Bob Hoskins, Rita Giovannini, Stephen Yardley, Bunny May, John Flanagan, Donald Morley, John Bailey, Granville Saxton, William Hoyland, Christopher Ellison, Dawn Perllman8 May 1976 (1976-05-08)
426"A Midsummer Nightmare"
"Appointment with a Killer"
Joanna Pettet, Brian Blessed, Freddie Jones, Norman Rodway, Anthony Pedley, Elsie Randolph, Tony Anholt, John Ruddock, Alison Glennie, Thom Delaney15 May 1976 (1976-05-15)
437"Death in Deep Water"Bradford Dillman, Suzan Farmer, Ian Bannen, Philip Stone, Diana Weston, Lawrence James, Anna Marshal, John Gatrell22 May 1976 (1976-05-22)

Trivia edit

Dinsdale Landen is the only actor who plays the same named role – that of private investigator Matthew Earp – in two episodes, "An Echo of Theresa" and "The Next Scream You Hear", although Reg Lye plays an unnamed 'Caretaker' in both "Spell of Evil" and "Good Salary - Prospects - Free Coffin" who could conceivably be the same character.

References edit

  1. ^ "Thriller | Nostalgia Central".
  2. ^ a b c "BFI Screenonline: Thriller (1973-76)".
  3. ^ "THRILLER - The Complete Series A 16-disc Box Set From Network". Archived from the original on 29 August 2014.
  4. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Thriller (1973-76) Credits".
  5. ^ "Five things to watch this weekend – 11–13 October". British Film Institute.
  6. ^ "See No Evil (1971) - Richard Fleischer | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" – via
  7. ^ "Laurie Johnson". BFI. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b Marcus, Laurence. "Thriller". Television Heaven.
  9. ^ a b "Someone at the Top of the Stairs (1973) - John Sichel | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" – via
  10. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Clemens, Brian (1931-) Biography".
  11. ^ "Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are (1974) - | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" – via
  12. ^ a b "Screamer (1974) - Shaun O'Riordan | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" – via
  13. ^ "The Double Kill (1975) - | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" – via
  14. ^ "I'm the Girl He Wants to Kill (1974) - | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" – via
  15. ^ a b "A Coffin for the Bride (1974)". BFI. Archived from the original on 13 November 2020.
  16. ^ "» A British TV Review: THRILLER "Lady Killer" (1973)".
  17. ^ "Only a Scream Away (1974)". BFI. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020.
  18. ^ "If It's a Man - Hang Up! (1975)". BFI. Archived from the original on 17 January 2017.
  19. ^ "MUBI".

External links edit