Dim the lights and roll the film - more treasured memories of shows from the past
Meanwhile, Bugle reader Mr M Cartwright of Gornal Wood asked if Alan could help him out with a couple of characters from the Westerns, and he duly obliged. In a 1966 remake of Stage Coach, the Ringo Kid was played by Alex Cord and the Sheriff by Van Heflin. And talking of famous characters from the Wild West, this time round Alan has come up with a couple of crackers:
"The first significant Western to appear on US TV was Hopalong Cassidy, based on the Clarence E. Mulford character and starring William Boyd, who made the move from the big screen to the small screen to make 'Hoppy' famous. It was basically an initial showing of the 66 movies made between 1935 and 1949 when Hoppy's main sidekicks were 'California' (Andy Clyde) and 'Lucky' (Rand Brooks). But in 1952 the first of fifty-two half-hour shows premiered on the small screen and ran until 1954; this time Hoppy had a single sidekick by the name of 'Red Connors', played by Edgar Buchanan. The show titles were quite diverse and included Frontier Law, Valley Raiders, and Ghost Trails, etc.
"The show, produced by William Boyd's own company, was first shown on Midlands TV in 1956, a permanent 5.30 pm slot on a Monday, and ran for two years. Hopalong Cassidy found favour with the kids in the fifties and playgrounds throughout the Black Country and beyond would have reverberated to the show's popular theme song ... "Here he comes, here he comes, there's the trumpets, there's the drums. Here he comes, Hopalong Cassidy, here he comes."
"Another familiar name to all Western buffs - in fact to everyone - is Wyatt Earp. Perhaps you can remember singing along to the following: "Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, brave, courageous and bold. Long live his fame, and long live his glory, and long may his story be told."
"The theme music was sung and recorded by the Ken Darby Singers for the series that went by the name, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, and the scripts were written to be as near as possible to traditional stories of the famous frontier marshal's exploits.
"The legendary Wyatt Earp was played by Hugh O'Brian, who uncannily resembled early photographs of the real Wyatt Earp, and he played the lead role throughout the run of 266 half-hour black and white shows between 1955 and 1961. His career as a lawman took him from Kansas, Wichita, Dodge City and finally Tombstone, where the famous gunfight at the OK Corral took place. His sidekick was the equally famous Doc Holliday, played by Myron Healey initially and later by Douglas Fowley, and the pair maintained law and order wherever they went. Most ITV regions commenced screening the show from 1958 in what was a Desilu and Wyatt Earp Enterprises co-production.
"Here's a programme from the past which needed a little more research than usual, and for that task I asked my good mate Phil Kendrick to help me out, thus the following is a Keeling & Kendrick co-production.
'We cannot bring you tonight's scheduled programme, so instead here is a case from the files of Stryker of the Yard.' These were the words spoken by ATV Midlands announcer Mike Prince one winter's evening in 1966 during a local technician's dispute. But the audience needn't have been too upset because the early 1950s crime series was a pretty good substitute. It was originally made for cinema showings and distributed throughout the UK by British Lion Films. Even so, it was shown on American TV (NBC) around 1957 and cut down by ten minutes from its original 35 minutes, bearing the legend 'Hollywood Television Service' at the beginning of each episode. Hollywood TV was a division of Republic Pictures who were renowned for producing B-movies, B-movie serials, and early 1950s television series such as Stories of the Century, Dr. Fu-Manchu, and Frontier Doctor, etc.
"Back to the crime busters, and 13 episodes of Stryker were first broadcast on ATV from 2nd November 1961 to 25th January 1962, then occasionally between 1966 and 1972, although Channel TV ran the series in its entirety in 1972. All the programmes had been filmed at Nettlefold Studios, Walton-on-Thames, but by the early '70s the programme had begun to look amusingly dated. However the main players deserve a mention, and they were Clifford Evans as Chief Inspector Robert Stryker, George Woodbridge as Sergeant Hawker, and host-cum-narrator Tom Fallon. Tom Fallon did a comparable job to Edgar Lustgarten in the Scotland Yard series. He introduced each segment and ended with the same remark, 'And it just goes to show that crime does not pay'.
"Turning our attention to the southern hemisphere, who remembers the classic programme The Flying Doctor? The TV version was made as a direct result of a BBC radio programme of the same name which starred James Mackechnie and Bill Kerr. In the half-hour episodes on the small screen, Dr. Greg Graham (the flying doctor) was played by American actor Peter Madden, who seven years later was to star in Hawaii 5-0 as the governor. Other co-stars included Jim Harrison as the blind doctor, Jill Adams as nurse Mary Meredith, Alan White as the pilot Charley Wood, and James Copeland as radio operator Alec Macloud.
"Produced by Associated British Pictures Corporation, the whole series of 39 episodes was filmed in 1959 at Elstree Studios in London (first shown in the Midlands on Saturday evenings in 1960), and on location in Australia to add authenticity to the role of the doctor serving his patients in remote areas of the bush. It was like an airborne Emergency Ward 10 with the team having to deal with snake bites, severed limbs, acute appendicitis, and other equally gory ailments, and many famous actors made guest appearances, generally those who were in need of the flying doctor's help. They included William Franklin, William Hartnell, Nigel Green, Stratford Johns, Ronald Fraser, and even Bill Kerr.
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