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Program Information

All Program Information: General Details | Crew

Specific episodes:
1.1: “Man From the South”
1.2: “Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat
1.3: “William and Mary”
1.4: “Lamb to the Slaughter”
1.5: “The Landlady”
1.6: “Neck”
1.7: “Edward the Conquerer”
1.8: “A Dip in the Pool”
1.9: “The Way Up to Heaven”
2.1: “Royal Jelly”
2.2: “Skin”
2.3: “Galloping Foxley”
2.4: “The Hitch–Hiker”
2.5: “Poison”
2.6: “Fat Chance”
2.7: “Taste”
2.8: “My Lady Love, My Dove”
2.9: “Georgy Porgy”
2.10: “Depart in Peace”
2.11: “The Umbrella Man”
2.12: “Genesis and Catastrophe”
2.13: “Mr. Botibol’s First Love”
2.14: “Back for Christmas”
2.15: “The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby”
2.16: “The Man at the Top”
3.1: “The Flypaper”
3.2: “A Picture of a Place”
3.4: “Vengeance Is Mine Inc.”
3.6: “Parson’s Pleasure”
4.3: “The Boy Who Talked With Animals”
4.7: “The Sound Machine”
9.3: “The Surgeon”


General Details

  • First episode: March 24, 1979
  • Runtime: 25 minutes (UK)
  • Production Company: Anglia Television Ltd.
  • Special Effects: Effects Associate Ltd

Crew

  • Produced by: John Rosenberg and John Woolf (executive)
  • Original music by: Ron Grainer (1979)
  • Dancer in opening credits: Karen Standley
  • Film Editing by: Giles Tuffield
  • Casting by: Pat Jarvis and Joe Scully
  • Production Design by: Allan Anson and Spencer Chapman
  • Costume Design by: Reg Samuel
  • Make-up: Jane Atkinson
  • Special Effects: Ricky Farns, Ted Grumbt, Garth Inns

Episode 1.1: “Man From the South”

  • First aired March 24, 1979
  • Based on “Man From the South”
  • Cast:
    • José Ferrer as Carlos
    • Katy Jurado as Woman
    • Cyril Luckham as Rawlsden
    • Angela Malcolm as Maid
    • Michael Ontkean as Tommy
    • Pamela Stephenson as Cathy
  • Directed by Michael Tuchner
  • Dramatised by Kevin Goldstein-Jackson
  • Dahl’s introduction: I ought to warn you, if you haven’t read any of my stories, that you may be a little disturbed by some of the things that happen in them. When I’m writing a short story, I’m haunted by the thought that I’ve got to hold the reader’s attention for literally every second, otherwise I’m dead. The one you’re going to see now is the first of a series based on stories that have taken me thirty-five years to write. I find them difficult to do well, so I work slowly. About two a year. This one was filmed in its real setting: Jamaica. I hope you like it.

Episode 1.2: “Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat”

  • First aired March 31, 1979
  • Based on “Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat”
  • Cast:
    • Vass Anderson as Huntsman
    • Alan Chuntz as Taxi Driver
    • Frederick Farley as Pawnbroker
    • Richard Greene as The Colonel
    • Julie Harris as Mrs. Bixby
    • Richard Hampton as Patient
    • Michael Hordern as Cyril Bixby
    • Will Leighton as Seamus
    • Sandra Payne as Miss Pulteney
  • Directed by Simon Langton
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: This is a play about a very expensive mink coat. The original story’s quite short, but I’m such a ridiculously slow writer that it took me something like five months to get the thing finished, which is more than six hundred working hours. That probably sounds a bit silly to you. But in trying to work the plot out properly I took so many wrong turnings and went up so many blind alleys I nearly went crazy. Don’t forget: a short story writer’s working in miniature, and he can’t afford to splash his paint all over the canvas. He has to be extremely precise. I find it very difficult. Anyway, see what you think of it.

Episode 1.3: “William and Mary”

  • First aired April 7, 1979
  • Based on “William and Mary”
  • Cast:
    • Marius Goring as Doctor Landy
    • Richard Hampton as Baxter
    • Jimmy Mac as William
    • Jane Paton as Nurse
    • Elaine Stritch as Mary
  • Directed by Donald McWhinnie
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: This is basically a very nasty tale, but if I’ve managed to learn one thing in my thirty-five years of story writing it is this: Nastiness and horror must be handled with great circumspection, because if left on their own they will always taste bitter in the end. But if humor is added to the mixture then the tension is relieved by laughter, and the bitterness is banished. In this story we have an actress who knows a tremendous lot about the importance of humor, so I don’t think you need worry.

Episode 1.4: “Lamb to the Slaughter”

  • First aired April 14, 1979
  • Based on “Lamb to the Slaughter”
  • Cast:
    • Brian Blessed as Det. Sergeant Jack Nolan
    • Michael Byrne as Patrick “Marney”
    • Hugh Cross as Police Doctor
    • David English as Plain Clothes Officer
    • Andrew Fell as Uniformed Police Constable
    • Susan George as Mary “Marney”
    • Mark Jones as Det. Sergeant Jameson
    • George Little as Mr. Samuel
  • Directed by John Davies
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: My friend the late Ian Fleming, the James Bond man, was really responsible for the story you’re going to see now. We were staying a weekend at a house in Vermont, and at dinner the roast leg of lamb was so dry and tough that Ian looked across to me and whispered, “This ruddy thing must have been in the deep freeze for ten years. She ought to be shot.” “No,” I said, “Not shot. I think there must be a more interesting punishment than that.” And that’s how the idea for this story began.

Episode 1.5: “The Landlady”

  • First aired April 21, 1979
  • Based on “The Landlady”
  • Cast:
    • John Bryant as Mullholland
    • Jess Davis as Temple
    • Anthony Dawes as Clergyman
    • Siobhan McKenna as The Landlady
    • Leonard Preston as Billy Weaver
  • Directed by Herbert Wise
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: I personally think this story is funny, but if your sense of humor doesn’t happen to be the same as mine, then I’m afraid you’re going to be a bit disturbed by what goes on. And by the way: if any of you are tempted to think it’s all pretty far-fetched, then you should stop and think and ask yourself seriously whether such a thing as this could really happen. The answer is yes, of course it could. Even to you.

Episode 1.6: “Neck”

  • First aired April 28, 1979
  • Based on “Neck”
  • Cast:
    • Michael Aldridge as Sir Basil Turton
    • Peter Bowles as Major Jack Haddock
    • Joan Collins as Lady Natalia Turton
    • John Gielgud as Jelks
    • Paul Herzberg as John Bannister
    • Carmen Silvera as Carmen La Rosa
  • Directed by Christopher Miles
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: If a bucket of paint falls on a man’s head, that’s funny. If the bucket fractures his skull at the same time and kills him, that’s not funny – it’s tragic. And yet, if a man falls into a sausage machine and is sold in the shops at so much a pound, that’s funny. It is also tragic. So why is it funny? I don’t know. But what I do know is that somewhere within this very difficult area lies the secret of all black comedy. The play you’re going to see now is one of those blackish comedies and thanks to the presence of two famous stars, it’s come out a good deal funnier than I was ever able to make it on paper.

Episode 1.7: “Edward the Conquerer”

  • First aired May 5, 1979
  • Based on “Edward the Conqueror”
  • Cast:
    • Joseph Cotten as Edward
    • Wendy Hiller as Louisa
    • Phil Brown as F. Milton Willis
  • Directed by Rodney Bennett
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: A long time ago, when I wrote this story, I never used to start work in the mornings until I had listened to one or another of the Beethoven quartets all the way through. The idea behind this was that if I soaked myself in these very great creative works, then a little of Beethoven’s inspiration might stick to my own skin or my brain or my fingers, and come out in what I wrote. Of course that never happened, but one did sit down to work in a marvelously uplifted state of mind, which made it a little more difficult to write absolute bosh. What you’re going to see now is a musical story that somehow emerged from this peculiar habit of mine.

Episode 1.8: “A Dip in the Pool”

  • First aired May 12, 1979
  • Based on “A Dip in the Pool”
  • Cast:
    • Ken Buckle as Sailor
    • Elaine Ives Cameron as Woman Bidder
    • Don Fellows as Renshaw
    • Davyd Harries as Purser
    • David Healy as Auctioneer
    • Bill Reimbold as Bidder
    • Jana Shelden as Mrs. Renshaw
    • Gladys Spencer as Sylvia
    • Paula Tilbrook as Maggie
    • Michael Troughton as Steward
    • Jack Weston as Botibol
  • Directed by Michael Tuchner
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: There’s all the difference in the world between a real gambler and someone who just has an occasional flutter. The real gambler either doesn’t mind losing his money or he’s able to forget about his losses by the next day. I’m a mad gambler; I’ll bet on anything. I once got 25-to-1 against my wife having twins, and five minutes later I called up the bookie again and said, “Hey, about that bet I just made. I’d like to make another one.” “Certainly,” he said. “I’d like to bet you I’ll lose it,” I told him. He didn’t mind in the least, and we made a second wager. I write stories about betting because I’m fascinated by how people behave when there’s a big bet on. Here’s one of them.

Episode 1.9: “The Way Up to Heaven”

  • First aired May 19, 1979
  • Based on “The Way Up to Heaven”
  • Cast:
    • Anthony Bailey as Arthur
    • Brian Capron as Airport Official
    • Roland Culver as Mr. Foster
    • Julie Harris as Mrs. Foster
    • Dulcie Huston as Airline Hostess
    • Jeremy Longhurst as Car Driver
    • Angus Mackay as Walker
    • Julia Watson as Maid
  • Directed by Simon Langton
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: When writing stories, I cannot seem to rid myself of the unfortunate habit of having one person do nasty things to another person. In this particular story the nasty thing that one person does to the other is far, far nastier than would appear at first sight. I therefore invite you, when it is all over, to sit back and allow your imaginations to explore and to relish all the things that took place when you were not looking.

Episode 2.1: “Royal Jelly”

  • First aired March 1, 1980
  • Based on “Royal Jelly”
  • Cast:
    • Susan George as Mabel
    • Andrew Ray as Percy Hayward
    • Timothy West as Albert
  • Directed by Herbert Wise
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: Back in the winter of 1959, I saw in the shop window in New York a little white jar with a notice on it saying: “Royal Jelly. Two ounces. $350.” I’d never heard of the stuff. The shop told me it had magical properties, and it undoubtedly has. So I wrote a story about it. Years later, Dick Van Dyke – who had read the story – sent me from France a box of small glass phials containing pure royal jelly. I drank them, one by one, but I’m not gonna tell you what they did to me, or I’ll ruin what you’re about to see now.

Episode 2.2: “Skin”

  • First aired March 8, 1980
  • Based on “Skin”
  • Cast:
    • Lucy Gutteridge as Josie
    • Teris Hebrew as Dealer
    • Boris Isarov as Soutine
    • Derek Jacobi as Drioli
    • Donald Pickering as Gallery Owner
  • Directed by Herbert Wise
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: There is a place far up in the north of Russia called Pravdinsk, where in the winter the earth freezes so hard it is impossible to dig a grave when a man dies. So the clever Russians – do you know what they do? They simply sharpen his legs and knock him into the ground with a sledgehammer. This has absolutely nothing to do with what you’re going to see now, except that we also have a Russian in our story. A Russian painter called Soutine who went to live in France, where he died in poverty in 1943. I didn’t invent Soutine; he was real. He was a very great painter, and today his pictures fetch enormous sums all over the world.

Episode 2.3: “Galloping Foxley”

  • First aired March 15, 1980
  • Based on “Galloping Foxley”
  • Cast:
    • Guy Humphries as Stamford
    • John Mills as William Perkins
    • Paul Spurrier as Young William
    • Anthony Steel as The Stranger
    • Jonathan Scott Taylor as Young Foxley
    • Colin Thomas as City Gent
    • Anthony Woodruff as Housemaster
    • Clifford Abrahams, Adrian Breeze, Timothy Breeze, and Wayne Brooks as Schoolboys
  • Directed by Claude Whatham
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: In 1929, when I was thirteen, I was sent to a famous English boarding school for boys. In those days life was pretty brutal at schools like these. And you won’t believe this but even now, fifty years later, if I sit for too long on a hard chair, I begin to feel my heart beating along the old wounds along my bottom where I was flogged. “Do you want six with your dressing gown on or four with it off?” the prefects used to say to us down there in the changing room late at night. This is a story about those school days of mine, and for once, I have not made anything up. It’s all true.

Episode 2.4: “The Hitch–Hiker”

  • First aired March 22, 1980
  • Based on “The Hitch-Hiker”
  • Cast:
    • Cyril Cusack as Michael Fish
    • John Forgeham as Police Officer
    • Rod Taylor as Paul Duveen
  • Directed by Alastair Reid
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: All my life, I have made it an absolute rule never to pass a hitch-hiker at any time of day or night without giving him or her a lift. Then, on a pouring wet evening in September just outside Oxford, I picked up two unhappy-looking young men who were soaked to the skin. Both had hair down to their shoulders and bushy beards. One of them said as they climbed into the back, “What a relief! Thank you so much.” Suddenly, I felt the point of a knife pressing into my neck. “Hey!” I said. “Steady on.” “Get out,” the knife man said, “And hurry.” I got out. They drove off and left me standing in the rain. Since then I have never given a lift to any man with long hair or with a bushy beard. The hitch-hiker in this story has neither.

Episode 2.5: “Poison”

  • First aired March 29, 1980
  • Based on “Poison”
  • Cast:
    • Judy Geeson as Sandra
    • Saeed Jaffrey as Doctor Kunzru
    • Andrew Ray as Harry
    • Anthony Steel as ‘Timber’
  • Directed by Graham Evans
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: A very long time when I was twenty, I was working for a large company out in East Africa in Dar es Salaam. And one morning, while I was shaving in the bathroom, I happened to glance out of the window at the gardener who was raking the gravel on the driveway down below. Behind him, right at that moment, I saw a black mamba, six feet long, moving over the gravel toward him. “Look out Modisho,” I yelled. “Behind you, a snake!” He swung round. Too late. The mamba bit him on the ankle. I got him to hospital in ten minutes but he died that day. The krait – k-r-a-i-t – is another of the killer snakes. And this one is almost more frightening than the mamba because he is so tiny, he looks like a twig on the ground. This story is about a krait.

Episode 2.6: “Fat Chance”

  • First aired April 5, 1980
  • Story by Robert Bloch (NOT Roald Dahl)
  • Cast:
    • Geoffrey Bayldon as Dr. Applegate
    • Nigel Caliburn as Stage Manager
    • John Castle as John Burge
    • Katie Flower as Annie
    • Sheila Gish as Frances
    • Jean Kitson as Mavis
    • Miriam Margolyes as Mary Burge
    • Anthony Roye as James
    • Peter Van Dissel as Derek
    • Michael Quinto and Carol Thornton as People in Dressing Room
  • Directed by John Gorrie
  • Dramatised by Denis Cannan
  • Dahl’s introduction: In the bad old days, when India was full of millionaire maharajas, these fellows used to bump off their wives with astonishing frequency. Oddly, they all used the same method – and very royal and maharaja-ish it was. Not for them a coarse bash on the head or a bloody running-through with a sword or a slashing of the throat. They used tigers’ whiskers. A maharaja intent upon disposing of his wife would first go out and shoot a tiger. He would then cut off its whiskers. These whiskers, which are as sharp and spiky as slivers of glass, would be chopped up into small pieces and sprinkled on the maharani’s curry at dinner. When eaten, they would perforate the lining of her intestine and kill her off within two days. In other countries, tigers’ whiskers are rather hard to come by, so we husbands have to use other, less refined methods… as you will see in a moment.

Episode 2.7: “Taste”

  • First aired April 12, 1980
  • Based on “Taste”
  • Cast:
    • Graham Bell as TV Presenter
    • Joanna Bligh as Beth Porter
    • Gabrielle Blunt as Mrs. Adams
    • Anthony Carrick as Mike Schofield
    • Debbie Farrington as Louise Schofield
    • Mercia Glossop as Sybil Schofield
    • William Hootkins as Peter Bligh
    • Ron Moody as Richard Pratt
  • Directed by Alastair Reid
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: I think one has more fun being a wine lover in England than in any other country. And that’s because London’s where nearly all the great wine auctions take place. There’s one almost every week of the year. And for decades I have haunted these auctions and the tastings that go before them. As a result, the old cellar below our house contains at this moment over five thousand bottles of wine. Some of it is superb. Most of it’s pretty good. We drink a bottle or two every night. It doesn’t seem to do us much damage. Here’s a wine story I wrote when I first became fascinated by the subject.

Episode 2.8: “My Lady Love, My Dove”

  • First aired April 19, 1980
  • Based on “My Lady Love, My Dove”
  • Cast:
    • Lisa Eichhorn as Sally
    • Douglas Lambert as Henry
    • Shane Rimmer as Arthur
    • Elaine Stritch as Pamela
  • Directed by Herbert Wise
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: I’m told that in the United States women own about 80% of all the wealth of the country. Most of them, I suppose, have managed to bump their husbands off in one splendid way or another, and good luck to them. But what do they do with all that money, these women? What they do not do is to remarry penniless young men; they’re too smart for that. And yet very rich men, who for some reason are all incredibly lecherous, are forever marrying penniless, beautiful young ladies. These husbands don’t live very long. But here is a story about a rich woman who did the opposite and married a man without money. And look what happened to them…

Episode 2.9: “Georgy Porgy”

  • First aired April 26, 1980
  • Based on “Georgy Porgy”
  • Cast:
    • John Alderton as Rev. George Duckworth
    • Grant Barsley as George as a child
    • Ann Beach as Miss Unwin
    • John Biggerstaff as Mr. Pollard
    • Lally Bowers as Miss Elphinstone
    • Joan Collins as Clare Duckworth and Julia Roach
    • Peter Godfrey as Doctor
    • Margaretta Scott as Lady Birdwell
    • Jacob Witkin as Boris Duckworth
  • Directed by Graham Evans
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: The possibility that a large woman might one day swallow a small clergyman is one that has always appealed to me. My mind first started wandering in this direction one day in the zoo, while I stood watching a huge snake swallowing a live rat. The rat didn’t wish to be swallowed; he was against it. But the snake had hypnotised him so he had no chance, and down he went. The keeper told me it would take the snake five days to digest the rat. And that’s when I got to wondering how long a large woman would take to digest a clergyman with all his clothes on if he were not too big. That, of course, would depend on the woman. But I know one or two who could have him for breakfast and still feel hungry at the end of it!

Episode 2.10: “Depart in Peace”

  • First aired May 3, 1980
  • Based on “Nunc Dimittis”
  • Cast:
    • John Bennett as Royden
    • Peter Cellier as Wilkins
    • Joseph Cotten as Lionel
    • Gloria Grahame as Gladys
    • Maureen O’Brien as Janet
  • Directed by Alan Gibson
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: Years ago, when I started buying old paintings at country house auctions all over England, I decided I’d better learn to clean and restore them myself. So I did. One day, I bought a small painting for twenty-five pence from a junk shop in Brighton. It didn’t even have a stretcher; it was just a loose canvas, and it had almost certainly been cut out of its frame by a thief. When I cleaned off the top layer of paint, there underneath it was a beautiful little Renoir landscape. The idea for the story you’re going to see now actually came to me while I was working on this picture.

Episode 2.11: “The Umbrella Man”

  • First aired May 10, 1980
  • Based on “The Umbrella Man”
  • Cast:
    • John Carson as Arthur
    • Michael Gambon as Andrew
    • Jennifer Hilary as Wendy
    • John Mills as The Man
    • John Rees as Clerk
    • Michael Sheard as Inspector
  • Directed by Claude Whatham
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: It is very seldom that a short story writer is able to make anything worthwhile out of an incident that actually happened. But this story is one of the rare exceptions. I myself met the Umbrella Man on a street in New York City. And I followed him, just as in this story, and I was delighted and amazed by what I found. I must confess to you that I tried the same experiment myself a few days later to see if it really worked. And it did. I only hope that on the next rainy day that comes along we won’t have thousands of you going out and doing the same thing. It would cause chaos in the land.

Episode 2.12: “Genesis and Catastrophe”

  • First aired May 17, 1980
  • Based on “Genesis and Catastrophe”
  • Cast:
    • Helmut Griem as Alois
    • Alastair Llewellyn as Doctor
    • Hana Maria Pravda as Frau Lemner
    • Zhivila Roche as Klara
    • Graham Seed as Josef
    • Toby Waldock as Young Alois
  • Directed by Herbert Wise
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: Unlike most of the other stories I’ve written, the one you’re about to see happens to be true. I’m not going to say much more than that about it or I’ll give the game away and spoil it for everyone. But it is a true story. And before I wrote it I researched the facts very thoroughly because I wanted everything to be as accurate as possible. The dialogue is obviously invented, but the details are correct. And by the way, let’s get one thing clear: All the names that I use for persons or places were authentic at the time of the happening.

Episode 2.13: “Mr. Botibol’s First Love”

  • First aired May 24, 1980
  • Based on “Mr. Botibol”
  • Cast:
    • Paul Bacon as Mason
    • Allan Corduner as Store Assistant
    • Paul Greenhalgh as Simpson
    • Anna Massey as Irene Wrzaszcyzk
    • Alan Rowe as Mr. Clements
    • Jack Weston as William Botibol
  • Directed by John Gorrie
  • Dramatised by Kevin Goldstein-Jackson
  • Dahl’s introduction: I don’t know about you, but I myself am an absolute “dreams of glory” addict. Sometimes I cause chaos at the Olympics by high jumping thirty feet, or I stagger the whole musical world with my great symphonies. I have literally hundreds of these lovely little glory dreams to choose from. The best time to use them is in bed at night, when reality is suspended. Because then, if you get a good one, you go drifting off to sleep in a state of supreme ecstasy.

Episode 2.14: “Back for Christmas”

  • First aired May 31, 1980
  • Story by John Collier (NOT Roald Dahl)
  • Cast:
    • Avril Elgar as Nancy
    • Richard Johnson as James
    • Mark Kenyon as Sebastian
    • Andrew Lebas as Waiter
    • Cyril Luckham as Gavin
    • Artro Morris as Tom
    • Sian Phillips as Hermione
    • Lynne Ross as Samantha
    • Margaret Ainley, Annette Collins, Christine Cracknell, Angela Evans, Ronald Fairbrother, Jack Gilvey, Bryan Mattheson, Henry Palmer, and Mary Tovey as Party Guests
  • Directed by Giles Foster
  • Dramatised by Denis Cannan
  • Dahl’s introduction: John Collier, who wrote this story, is surely one of the wittiest and most subtle writers of our time. He’s produced a multitude of short stories, three novels, and many fine film scripts. When Collier writes fiction he is totally outrageous. Consider, for example, a novel called “His Monkey Wife,” which is all about a female chimpanzee who falls in love with and eventually marries an undistinguished colonial schoolmaster. If that isn’t outrageous, I don’t know what is. Here, then, is another equally outrageous Collier story.

Episode 2.15: “The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby”

  • First aired June 7, 1980
  • Story by Stanley Elin (NOT Roald Dahl)
  • Cast:
    • Christopher Bramwell as Dominic
    • Nigel Caliburn as Signwriter
    • Robert Lang as Arthur
    • Cyril Luckham as Mr. Gainsborough
    • Elizabeth Spriggs as Martha
  • Directed by John Gorrie
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: I wonder how many wives there are in the world who would actually murder their husbands if it was positively guaranteed they would get away with it. Quite a few. Here is one way that is worth considering: Go out and buy 13 oysters in the shell. Bury one of them in the soil of a potted plant for 48 hours. Then dig it up and squeeze just one drop of its juice onto each of the six oysters you are serving to your beloved spouse for supper that evening. Your own six you leave alone. Later on, I promise you, the wretched man will be smitten with shellfish poisoning so virulent that he will succumb before dawn breaks. And not one finger of blame will be pointed at you. The poor fellow ate a bad oyster and that’s all they’ll ever be able to say about it. Now watch this story.

Episode 2.16: “The Man at the Top”

  • First aired June 14, 1980
  • Story by Edward D. Hoch (NOT Roald Dahl)
  • Cast:
    • Dallas Cavell as Sam Madrid
    • Rachel Davies as Diane
    • Brian Dooley as Lawyer
    • Mimi De Braie as Maria
    • Peter Firth as Hardy
    • Terry Gurry as Bodyguard
    • Betty Hardy as Motherly Woman
    • Paul McDowell as Schaeffer
    • Cassie McFarlane as Estelle
    • John Rees as Barman
    • Michael Ripper as Taxi Driver
    • Johnny Shannon as Gambler
    • Rex Taylor as Doorman
  • Directed by Claude Whatham
  • Dramatised by Denis Cannan
  • Dahl’s introduction: I am opposed to the killing of seals when it is done to make fur coats for women. I am even more violently opposed to the killing of whales, which is a monstrous and a cruel business. The fact that the killer whale will swallow more than thirty seals for breakfast does not alter my feelings about these noble creatures. The whale eats the seals from necessity; not because it wants a fur coat. I am also, incidentally, opposed to the killing of people. But if you must commit murder, then the best way to do it is with a pencil and paper. We writers probably kill more people than all the gangsters in the kingdom put together. Here is a nice example of this kind of homicide.

Episode 3.1: “The Flypaper”

  • First aired August 9, 1980
  • Story by Elizabeth Taylor (NOT Roald Dahl)
  • Cast:
    • Stephanie Cole as Miss Harrison
    • Alfred Burke as Herbert
    • Pat Keen as Vera
    • Giles Phibbs as Bus Conductor
    • Anthony Smee as Vicar
    • Peggy Thorpe-Bates as Mrs. Wilkinson
    • Bernadette Windsor as Louise
    • Lorna Yabsley as Sylvia
  • Directed by Graham Evans
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • Dahl’s introduction: The late Elizabeth Taylor was an English writer who lived not more than six miles from me, and a fine short story writer she was too. This one of hers that you’re going to see in a moment is so neat and nice and spooky, I only wish I’d thought of it myself. A plot like this – though it looks so simple – is very hard to come by, and harder still to set down in precisely the right manner, giving nothing away until the very end. Watch it carefully.

Episode 3.2: “A Picture of a Place”

  • First aired August 16, 1980
  • Story by Doug Morgan (NOT Roald Dahl)
  • Cast:
    • Jessie Matthews as Hazel
    • Bill Maynard as Merv
    • Judy Riley as Lucy
    • Peter Sallis as Solicitor
    • Michael Troughton as Andrew
  • Directed by Giles Foster
  • Dramatised by Denis Cannan
  • Dahl’s introduction: Early nineteenth century, along came an English painter called John Constable, who painted in a manner that had not been seen before. Above all, he was not frightened of his paint. And in many of his landscapes, he would lay it onto the canvas with a freedom and radiance that had an enormous influence upon the Impressionists who followed after him. In order properly to savor the story you’re going to see now, you should be aware of the fact that the discovery of a hitherto unknown painting by Constable is a great event. His work fetches huge sums on the market.

Episode 3.4: “Vengeance Is Mine Inc.”

  • First aired August 30, 1980
  • Based on “Vengeance Is Mine Inc.”
  • Cast:
    • Morris Barry as Mr. Wilbur
    • Betsy Blair as Mrs. Wilbur
    • Stephen Boswell as Doorman
    • Virginia Clay as Landlady
    • Mary Cornford as Theresa
    • Julian Fellowes as George
    • James Greene as Garage Attendant
    • Bosco Hogan as Tom
    • Fiesta Mei Ling as Suky
    • Robert Mill as Lionel Brewster
    • Terry Walsh as Bouncer
  • Directed by Alan Gibson
  • Dahl’s introduction: A gossip columnist is an odd sort of a bird. He inhabits the land of expensive restaurants and nightclubs, and there he feeds upon tidbits as are dropped to him from a host of amateur leg-men and leg-women. He pays them small sums for juicy morsels. The juiciest morsels of all are those that concern either the international set, the very rich, dukes and duchesses, or best of all, royalty. All this is perfectly harmless so long as the gossip remains benign and good-humored. But when it becomes malicious, as it so often does, then it can literally ruin somebody’s life. Let the story you’re going to see now serve as a warning to all malicious gossip columnists.

Episode 3.6: “Parson’s Pleasure”

  • First aired 1980
  • Based on “Parson’s Pleasure”
  • Cast:
    • Virginia Clay as Housekeeper
    • John Gielgud as Cyril Boggis
    • Irlin Hall as County Lady
    • Godfrey James as Claud
    • Harry Jones as Bert Rummins
    • Bernard Miles as Mr. Rummins
    • Roger Milner as Mr. Hawkins
    • Lee Montague as Mr. Storker
  • Directed by John Bruce
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • Dahl’s introduction: This story is about a knocker and a commode. You’ll find out what a knocker is as the story goes along. But a commode, in the meantime, is an old English word for a chest of drawers. Now an absolutely top quality Chippendale commode is an immense rarity. Only three of these beauties have turned up at auction in this century, and all of them came out of big English country houses. They fetched astronomical prices. And ever since then, it has been the ambition of every dealer and collector to find yet another of these great Chippendale commodes. Now watch the story.

Episode 4.3: “The Boy Who Talked With Animals”

  • First aired April 19, 1981
  • Based on “The Boy Who Talked with Animals”
  • Cast:
    • Robert Arden as Berners
    • David Buck as Father
    • Alison Coleridge as Mildred
    • Astley Harvey as John
    • Vivien Heilbron as Mother
    • William Hootkins as Harry Chester
    • Oscar James as Fisherman
    • John Nettleton as Hotel Manager
    • Tony Osoba as Police Officer
    • Paul Spurrier as David
    • Stuart Whitman as Sam Jenner
    • Mel Taylor and David Rhule as Fishermen
    • Geoffrey Cousins, Jeffrey Gardiner, Amanda Kemp, Mary Laine, and John Wyman as Guests
  • Directed by Alan Gibson
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • No introduction from Dahl!

Episode 4.7: “The Sound Machine”

  • First aired May 17, 1981
  • Based on “The Sound Machine”
  • Cast:
    • Harry Andrews as Klausner
    • Margery Mason as Mrs. Saunders
    • James Warwick as Dr. Scott
  • Directed by John Gorrie
  • Dramatised by Ronald Harwood
  • No introduction from Dahl!

Episode 9.3: “The Surgeon”

  • First aired January 15, 1988
  • Based on “The Surgeon”
  • Cast:
    • John Alderton as Robert Sandy
    • David Belcher as Julius Goff
    • Shirley Cain as Sister Wyman
    • Jonathan Coy as William Haddock
    • Alison Fiske as Betty Sandy
    • Geoffrey Greenhill as Det. Ins. Watkins
    • Raad Rawi as Crown Prince Zawi
    • Devon Scott as Jane Chenies
    • John Skitt as James Wishart
    • Thorley Walters as Harry Gold
  • Directed by Graham Evans
  • Dramatised by Robin Chapman
  • No introduction from Dahl!

For more detailed information, visit the Internet Movie Database.