28 January 1964

"Miss Geraldine". Writer John Gray. Director John Cooper.

The extension of the Scott Furlong premises is threatened by the refusal of one of the neighbouring land-owners to be bought off. Miss Geraldine Pettifur (Marie Lohr)is 69 and intends to see out her days in her family home. After Nigel Carr (Jeremy Burnham from 'The Old Boy Network') fails to charm her out of her home, John Wilder takes personal charge.

Legend has it that Patrick Wymark was generally cast in comic roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company, far-removed from the hard-nosed persona of John Wilder*. Perhaps this episode was commissioned to give Patrick Wymark a chance to play the lead in a modern-day version of 'Much Ado About Nothing.'

Certainly there are classic Shakespearean/Chaucerian overtones to this very slight episode in which unstoppable force meets immovable object. Even using Rex Firkin's pioneering outside broadcast technique, there is a very stagey feel to the imagery of Wymark and Lohr playing croquet in her garden with a jet aircraft looming in the background behind the garden fence.

Jeremy Burnham reprises his role as executive Nigel Carr, who can reputedly charm the birds from the trees. He is dispatched by Wilder to hustle Miss Geraldine into signing away her Tudor home, but fails spectacularly, next appearing in an eyepatch and sling, relating a tale of an almost metaphorical outcome to his mission. Whereas Carr had some credibility in 'The Old Boy Network', he is consigned to classic 'silly ass' comic relief in this episode.

Miss Geraldine is immune to the temptation offered by Scott Furlong. She is immensely rich, and part of that generation of women whose lives were blighted by the loss of men in World War One. Her many complaints and battles with the neighbouring airfield are her sole amusement.

Wilder realises that he must be open and honest with Miss Geraldine. There appears to be an in-joke relating to the effects of Wymark’s success as he declines milk for his tea, telling Miss Geraldine that he has recently realised he has to watch his weight. After laying out the consequences of living next to the expanded airfield, Wilder seeks to win her round by exposing her to the White Heat of Technology. Wilder gives her a tour of the airfield and her first flight on a plane. As he tells pilot Henry Forbes (Robert Urquhart), they must 'woo her'.

The episode invokes the reversal of classic drama when Miss Geraldine pauses on the airfield to take tea from a primus stove with a gang of manual labourers (the 'rustics', one of whom Wymark had been playing in 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' when he was first cast as Wilder).

The episode ends with the clear implication that Wilder has touched Miss Geraldine's heart and her head, as she negotiates a hard deal to sell her property and then phones her broker to put all her capital into Scott Furlong.

Australian-born Marie Lohr had a long stage career but had also starred in films such as 'The Winslow Boy', 'Went The Day Well', 'South Riding' (playing the forthright town councillor Mrs Beddowes, based on Winifred Holtby's mother) and 'A Town Like Alice'. Her godmother was Dame Madge Kendal, who had been the most successful actor to come out of Grimsby before Patrick Wymark.

* Although as our Theatre
section shows, Wymark had progressed to lead roles for other theatre companies such as Bosola in The Duchess of Malfi and Danton in Danton's Death.

Once again, you can read a review with photos of this episode as part of a review of that evening's TV at TV Minus 50

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