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Corrigan Blake
BBC 1962 - 1963
"The Adventures Of A Bird Fancier"
PILOT EPISODE
You Can't Win 'Em All
TX : 2nd February 1962
Director : James MacTaggart
Script : Alun Owen

Cast : Jack Hedley (Corrigan Blake), James Culliford (Feliz), Michael Mellinger (Selasco), Tommy Eytle (The Barman), Jan Holden (The Girl), Andreas Marcos (The Man), Waris Hussein (Cholo), leo Carera (Julio), Dani Seper (Anna Maria), Sosimo Hernandez (The Guard) and Don Levy (The Sergeant).

Synopsis :
Corrigan Blake has been offered one thousand dollars by a group of Latin American rebels to fix up their radio. When he arrives at their headquarters in the jungle he finds that events conspire to involve him more deeply in the rebellion than he expected


Publicity : Jack Hedley and Dani Seper is You Can't Win 'Em All: No one who has seen Alun Owen's previous television work - which includes The Tough And Ready Lot and The Ruffians - needs reminding that he is one of the most forceful and engaging playwrights at work in the medium today. For his work he was named by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors as scriptwriter of 1960. His latest play, written specially for television, You Can't Win 'Em All, returns to a setting - Latin America - which obviously fascinates him. With reports of mercenaries and revolutions ever in the news, the play is extremely topical. "You can't win 'em all" is the easy-going philosophy of Corrigan Blake, a cockney seaman beached in the Caribbean. A radio officer, he is offered one thousand dollars by a rebel group in a Latin American country to fix up a radio for them. But when he arrives at the rebel headquarters in the jungle his own personality involves him more deeply than he had expected. "Corrigan Blake is one of the most realistic characters I have come across in any play," says producer John Jacobs. And who better to play the part than Jack Hedley - the actor who became famous as Tim Frazer, although tonight he plays a very different kind of character. Feliz, the leader of the rebels, is played by James Culliford, and his sister Arina Maria by Dani Seper. Michael Mellinger takes on the role of Manuel Selasco, the local security officer of the Government forces. Maybe Blake thinks "you can't win 'em all", but Alun Owen's play will be, without doubt, a winnder. (Radio Times, January 25, 1962).

Notes :
James MacTaggart. Music for the pilot episode was provided by Dennis Wilson. This episodes was originally transmitted 9:25pm to 10:35pm.

SEASON ONE
Let's Go Home
TX : 1st May 1963
Director : James MacTaggart
Script : Alun Owen

Cast : Robert Mill (Second Lieutenant Wilson), Roger Avon (Sergeant Davies), K A Medas (Major Smith), Geraldine Newman (Miss Roberts) and Tutte Lemkow (El Sheik).

Publicity : Corrigan Blake - John Turner as Corrigan and Paul Daneman as Wally: This roving layabout with an eye for a "bird" and the main chance first turned up on BBC Television last year in Alun Owen's play You Can't Win 'em All. Then, he was a seaman mixed up with a group of rebels somewhere in the Caribbean. Now he returns in a series of six adventures in which, says his creator, "I've just pushed him the way I thought he would go … each story concerns his relationship with a different kind of girl, from the ladybird (of impeccable breeding) to the thumping bird (which is a bird who thumps fellows)". Tonight, in Let's Go Home, Corrigan Blake finds himself in a Middle-East jail after poaching on an oil potentate's preserves. The charge: breaking and entering a harem. As his aristocratic sidekick and cell-mate, Wallace St John Smith, puts it: "I'm afraid these Moslem chaps don't take kindly to bird snatching". In the production by James MacTaggart, Corrigan is played by John Turner, last seen on BBC Television in Seagulls Over Sorrento, while in the part of Wally is Paul Daneman, who will be remembered for his performance as Richard III in An Age Of Kings. Alun Owen, named television playwright of the year in 1960 by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors, is one of the most successful writers now working for the small screen. His plays on BBC Television include The Ruffians, The Rough And Ready Lot and, recently, The Stag. Currently he is working on the book of a new Lionel Bart musical set in Liverpool - Maggie May - which will be staged next year. "Corrigan Blake," says Owen, talking about his new series, "is a Cockney hipster and a travelling man. As he describes himself: `Occupation? You name it, I've done it. I've no past, no future, but plenty of the old here and now. I've just got natural what it takes most people all their lives to never have. I'm free…". (Radio Times, April 25, 1963).

Notes : The series was originally transmitted 9:45pm to 10:15pm.

The Removal Men
TX : 8th May 1963
Director : James MacTaggart
Script : Alun Owen

Cast : Bryan Pringle (Big George), Tom Clegg (Fred), Yootha Joyce (Abigail), Tutte Lemkow (George's Man) and Anne Lloyd (Shirley Quirter).

Publicity : Corrigan Blake - 9:45pm: When Big George Wigg, a crooked bookie in the north of England, decides to turn his money-making talents to local politics, he becomes engaged to Shirley, daughter of Alderman Quirter. But Abigail, George's "little friend" and manager of his finances, is not so easily brushed aside. George, she decides, is due to be removed from the scene. Listed in his little book under "Villains", and underlined in red, she finds the name of a likely candidate for the job of removal man: Corrigan Blake. So Abigail (played by Yootha Joyce) comes south to The Smoke in search of Corrigan (John Turner) - who, as is well known to one and all, cannot resist the blandishments of a "bird". (Radio Times, May 2, 1963).

Notes : The series was designed by Roy Oxley and Malcolm Middleton.

The Scientific Approach
TX : 15th May 1963
Director : James MacTaggart
Script : Alun Owen
Cast : Nyree Dawn Porter (Francesca), Laura Thurlow (The Buxom Girl), Robert Mill (Jeremy), John Rogers (The Second Young Man), Derrick Slater (The Third Young Man), Yvonne Howard and Valerie Stanton (The Two Girls) and Tutte Lemkow (The Ambassador).

Publicity : Corrigan Blake - 9:40pm: "We've got a bottle, and come Saturday night that's a gilt-edged invitation-card in the Fulham Road" - and so Corrigan Blake and Wally gatecrash an arty party. Looking for a likely bird, Corrigan (played by John Turner) picks on the gorgeous Francesca (Nyree Dawn Porter), an intellectual who thinks she has found him in the perfect subject for a thesis she is writing. Her interest in him, she says, is purely scientific, but then Corrigan himself favours the scientific approach…to a bird. (Radio Times, May 9, 1963).


The Liberty Takers
TX : 22nd May 1963
Director : James MacTaggart
Script : Alun Owen

Cast : Angela Douglas (Elsie Biggs), Brian Hayes (The Barman) and Tutte Lemkow (Micky).

Publicity : Corrigan Blake - 9:45pm: Ever since Adam, "bird-fanciers" like Corrigan Blake have rightly regarded the combination of a woman and an apple as dodgy. Tonight's fourth story in the series by Alun Owen finds Corrigan and his mate, Wal, turning a reasonably honest quid by looking after Kosher Kitty Kelly's handbag-stall in Petticoat Lane. But a sudden encounter with an apple hurled by another stall-holder, the muscular but attractive Elsie Biggs (played by Angela Douglas), leads to a situation in which it is a bird who does the fancying of Corrigan. Since Elsie is highly-respected in the neighbourhood as a clouting merchant, Corrigan is well and truly lumbered; for as is well known there is an element of risk in brushing off a bird who has a fist like a carthorse's hoof. "When our Elsie thumps them they stay thumped. She can mark you for life …". (Radio Times, May 16, 1963).

Lady Bird
TX : 29th May 1963
Director : James MacTaggart
Script : Alun Owen

Cast : Moira Redmond (Lady Elizabeth Ainley), Meg Ritchie (Felicity), Robert Mill (Peter Willis), Jane Downs (Jane Stewart), Yvonne Howard (The Maid) and Joan Ingram (The Lady In The Lift).

Love Bird
TX : 5th June 1963
Director : James MacTaggart
Script : Alun Owen

Cast : Jane Merrow (Mary) and Steven Berkoff (The Barman).



Corrigan Blake
was first introduced to the BBC viewing public in a seventy-minute isolated play entitled You Can't Win 'Em All by Alun Owen, with Jack Hedley as an opportunist Cockney seaman who would do anything to make fast money - in this instance a thousand dollars, paid by Latin American rebels, to repair a radio at their headquarters deep in the jungle. However, a simple request proves to be anything but when he discovers that he has become firmly involved in a local rebellion.


The pilot episode was an entertaining isolated story that seemed to achieved some sort of closure, thus seemingly preventing a series from being commissioned, yet three months later six episodes appeared which radically changed the nature of the central character and the drive of the series itself. Subtitled "The Adventures Of A Bird Fancier", Corrigan Blake (now portrayed by John Turner) appeared in a comedy drama series revolving around the two greatest pursuits of his life: the acquisition of wealth and a "bird".



Over the course of six episodes, accompanied by his upper-crut ex-prison colleague Wallace St John Smith (Paul Daneman), Corrigan encountered six women of different social backgrounds and was enchanted with each one of them - yet ultimately it was the women who outsmarted, outfoxed, outwitted and used Corrigan for their own ends. The programme became more comedic in its approach to scenarios, varying strongly from a potentially interesting pilot whereby Corrigan could have been manipulated through plots as a sort of international troubleshooter (a Cockney version of John Drake).



This by no means detracted from the highly-enjoyable light entertainment aspect of the series, and was virtually BBC Television's first attempt at comedy-drama (a relatively new genre which emerged in the late 1960s and became commonplace throughout the 1970s across all the British networks). The series featured attractive performances from the likes of Bryan Pringle, Yootha Joyce and Nyree Dawn Porter, and was directed by BBC stalwart James MacTaggart. Regrettably, the programme was not retained in the network's archives and was never commercially exploited.




Text © Matthew Lee, 2004.


Regular Characters
Portrayed By
Corrigan Blake (series only)
John Turner
Wallace St John Smith (series only)
Paul Daneman

The series was produced by Elwyn Jones.