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Shadows of Fear on DVD

Tuesday, 19 April 2011 00:00

Anthology shows are, in retrospect, remembered entirely because of their plots.  Only having the one story to get familiar with the characters involved, it is the situation they find themselves in that is the key to any lasting memory. This is the reason that many such shows are never recalled – we might have vivid memories of what happened, but it’s another matter entirely trying to recall which series that plot nestled within.

And so it is with Shadows of Fear.  A Thames TV production from the early 1970s, it only ran for 11 episodes. These are all more like stage plays being televised rather than anything developed away from the confines of standing sets. There are some excellent stories here, with fine performances.  However, it has to be said that an overall assessment would have to file this show as ‘patchy’.

Shadows of Fear - out on DVD from NetworkThe news release us informs us that fear can visit us in many forms - most disturbingly when it stalks us in familiar or cherished surroundings; a suburban house, an idyllic country retreat, or a sunlit Mediterranean holiday villa. Equally, it can haunt us in the shape of a menacing stranger, or gather in the shadows of our own imagination. And so it is that Shadows of Fear lives up to its name, with many of the leading characters having their own baggage which leads to their feelings of terror.

The cast list has some notable names to make it worth your investigation - Sheila Hancock, Edward Fox, George Cole, George Sewell, Annette Crosbie, Michael Craig, Jennie Linden, Ray Smith, Peter Barkworth, Suzanne Neve, John Neville, Gemma Jones and even a cameo for a very young Mark McManus are the faces that will jump out at you. There’s even Geoffrey ‘Eddie Yeats’ Hughes in a pre-Coronation Street performance.

The scripts are courtesy of the likes of Roger Marshall (Public Eye, The Sweeney), Richard Harris (Man in a Suitcase, The Avengers), Jeremy Paul (Upstairs Downstairs, Lovejoy), and Hugh Leonard (Armchair Theatre, Father Brown).

The producer of four of the episode, John Kershaw, by the way, contributes a script under his own name, and also one under his pseudonym Hugh d’Allenger. Kershaw’s CV certainly has much of note within it – he had various writing duties on The Bill in the 1980s, was script editor for a spell on Bergerac, wrote for Public Eye, Special Branch, and Spy Trap, and was producer and occasional writer of seasons of Armchair Theatre and Callan.

The last episode of the series, “The Party’s Over” was screened in 1973, a couple of years after the rest, and was a half hour format rather than an hour.  It appears that this might well have been an attempt to pilot a second season of stories, and a certain George Markstein, he of early episodes of The Prisoner, is listed as Story Editor – his only credit on the entire series.

Lloyd Shirley is listed as Executive Producer on this one tale, and there’s no actual Producer credit, so this does suggest an attempted series reboot. Lloyd was an extremely prolifice Executive Producer – getting that credit on the likes of Callan, Public Eye, The Mind of JG Reeder, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Man at the Top, Special Branch, Armchair Theatre, The Sweeney, Minder, Lytton’s Diary, The Bill, King & Castle, Hannay, Van der Valk, and Rumpole of the Bailey. He also played this role on the two 1970s movies of The Sweeney.

It should also be noted that the episode “Come into my Parlour” was recorded in Black and White, due to a technicians’ strike of the time (many other ITV shows were also struck by this, including Timeslip, Upstairs Downstairs and so on).

So, highlights to definitely make time for are “Did You Lock Up?”, “At Occupier’s Risk”, “The Death Watcher” and “Repent at Leisure”.

Shadows of Fear – The Complete Series is out now as a three DVD set from Network.  It has a ‘12’ certificate, a running time of 525 minutes approx, and a RRP of £30.62, or less, exclusively available from the Network Online Store.



Producer: Kim Mills (1, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10), John Kershaw (2, 3, 4, 8), No Producer credit on 11

Theme: Roger Webb


01. Did You Lock Up?

Returning from a holiday to find he and his wife have been burgled, one man decided to take matters in his own hands as he anticipates a return by the thieves.

Guest Starring: Michael Craig (Peter Astle), Gwen Watford (Moira Astle), Ray Smith (Newman), Mark McManus (Cox), Malcolm Kaye (Pierce), Charles Leno (Jeweller)

Writer: Roger Marshall

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 17 June 1970


02. Sugar and Spice

A couple’s tested marriage come under extra strain when the wife becomes concerned over their son’s whereabouts.

Guest Starring: Sheila Hancock (Anne Brand), Ronald Hines (Victor Brand), Ivor Salter (Doctor), Suzanne Togni (Judy Brand), Janet Hannington (Mary)

Writer: John Kershaw

Director: Patrick Dromgoole

Original ITV Transmission: 12 January 1971


03. At Occupier's Risk

A run-down hotel does not seem very welcoming to a traveller forced to stop over, but what is the Landlord’s real motivation?

Guest Starring: Anthony Bate (Darbon), Annette Crosbie (Mrs Darbon), Gemma Jones (Judith), Tom Chadbon (Hitch-hiker), John Swindells (Postman)

Writer: Richard Harris

Director: Peter Duguid

Harpsichord: Michael Reeves

Original ITV Transmission: 19 January 1971


04.  The Death Watcher

A journalist finds herself embroiled in one man’s experiments to crack the secret of communicating with the afterlife.

Guest Starring: John Neville (Pickering), Judy Parfitt (Emmy Erikson), Victor Maddern (Dawson), George Hagan (Police Inspector), Michael Hawkins (Robert Erikson), Daphne Oxenford (Mrs Tindall), Ann Way (Miss Wills)

Writer: Jacques Gillies

Director: Peter Duguid

Original ITV Transmission: 26 January 1971


05.  Repent at Leisure

A wealthy lady finds the suspicions of her relatives, in the motivations of her new husband, rubbing off on her.

Guest Starring: George Sewell (Harry), Alethea Charlton (Jenny), Elizabeth Sellars (Isobel), Peter Cellier (Peter)

Writer: Roger Marshall

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 2 February 1971


06. Return of Favours

A young couple test the mettle of their reluctant landlord, which could lead to tragedy on all sides.

Guest Starring: George Cole (Gordon), Robin Ellis (Roger), Jennie Linden (Judith), Caroline Blakiston (Maureen)

Writer: Jeremy Paul

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 9 February 1971


07. The Lesser of Two

A man who has served a prison sentence finds not only that his wife and son are reluctant for him to return home, but also the entire local community.

Guest Starring: Godfrey Quigley (Harry), Margery Mason (Margaret), Geoffrey Hughes (Terry), Elizabeth Burger (Betty), Dorothea Phillips (Mrs Baxter), John Rolfe (Man)

Writer: Hugh d’Allenger

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 16 February 1971


08.  White Walls and Olive Green Carpets

Thoughts of a dream home are behind one man’s desire to please his one-time mistress, but who has the biggest secret out of the two of them?

Guest Starring: Ian Bannen (Robert), Natasha Parry (Lena), Geoffrey Brighty (Actor), Rosemary Croom-Johnson (Marian)

Writer: Hugh Leonard

Director: James Gatward

Incidental Music: Harry South

Original ITV Transmission: 23 February 1971


09. Sour Grapes

A foreign holiday, a remote villa, and a man on the run is not the best recipe for a couple wanting to get away from it all.

Guest Starring: Daniel Massey (Michael), Ray Smith (German), Isabel Dean (Gwen), Simon Gough (Civil Guard)

Writer: Roger Marshall

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 2 March 1971


10.  Come Into My Parlour

A cosmetics sales lady tries to pitch to a bachelor, but soon the call takes on a more sinister disposition.

Guest Starring: Peter Barkworth (John Dolby), Beth Harris (Deanna Ward), Gabrielle Blunt (Neighbour), Peggy Bullock (Mrs B)

Writer: Roger Marshall

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 9 March 1971 (Note: Recorded in B&W)


11. The Party's Over

In this story set in the past, a married couple seem to be fooling each other about their friends and their loyalties, especially over the wife’s heart condition.

Guest Starring: Suzanne Neve (Ethel Parker), Edward Fox (John Parker), Philip Brack (Dr Carmichael), Penelope Lee (Barbara), Susan Tebbs (Julie)

Writer: Roy Harley Lewis (Story Editor: George Markstein)

Director: Kim Mills

Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley

Original ITV Transmission: 31 January 1973 (Half hour episode)


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37