Saturday, 28 April 2012

Take Three Girls

Yes! After quite a bit of searching I've finally manage to get hold of four episodes of the BBC's first ever colour drama; Take Three Girls, which commenced in 1969 and ended in 1971.

I know I've blogged about it briefly before (Here) but now I've actually managed to get a hold of it, I feel the need to blog again!

The series was somewhat pioneering, showing as it did the up and downs of three young girls sharing a house in late 60s London and using these protagonists to cover the topics and issues of the day - and what very interesting days 1969 were in a London that was swinging, albeit perhaps a little slowly than previously as the new decade looms on the horizon and the girls realise independence isn't all rosy.

The three girls in question were Kate (Susan Jameson) Victoria (Liza Goddard) and Avril (Angela Down). Avril is a typist and aspiring artist. Victoria is a musician studying the cello and Kate is a single parent and struggling actress.

Each episode in the series would specifically follow one of the girls, allowing each actor the limelight one week, with the other leads on the periphery. 

With much anticipation I settled down to watch the opening episode, penned by Hugh Charteris, entitled 'Kate: Stop Acting' As you can tell this was an episode to highlight Susan Jameson (the future Mrs James Bolam) and she takes the opportunity and seizes it beautifully. 

Kate is a well to do young woman and divorcee bringing up a baby (the delightfully named Aeneis) alone. She decides to rent the two spare rooms for extra income and offers them to her school friend Victoria, and the seemingly less well to do, Avril. We meet them at Aeneis's christening which is being performed by Kate's father, a Reverend and broadcaster in the Malcolm Muggeridge vein (indeed he's mentioned as a friend of Muggeridge) Where the series hasn't dated is the bold strokes of social issues; it's true to say single parenthood now is much more common than it was then ("I'm one of the 7% of London's single mothers" Kate says at one point) but divorce, caring for a child single handed and treading the boards as your chosen career is something I imagine would still rankle if your father were a man of the cloth! That said, Kate's father does seem to take it in his stride, but perhaps that may be because his own private life is a little complicated; he seems to still live with her mother, who is ailing from some condition that isn't specifically stated, but he's actually having a relationship with the woman who was employed as his wife's nurse.

Kate's somewhat delightfully scatty, prone to 'acting' in any given situation with grand gestures and rolling eyes. She's also beautiful - Susan Jameson was a real stunner in her day - and elegantly dressed throughout (a check ensemble with matching beret and ruff neck at the christening) As she shows Victoria around the house she gaily explains how she's due to audition for a part at the BBC later and that the producer is kinky for PVC Mackintosh's, so her ensemble is neatly calculated to include such a vivid yellow item over an equally yellow short dress. 

Needless to say it appeals to the lecherous sleaze, played by Ronald Radd (Callan's Hunter) "That's very nice stuff" he says as he paws at her sleeve when they shake hands....

However, Kate's not as calculating as she may want to be, and she's certainly not as easy as the producer hopes; she struggles and stalls at his grubby casting couch advances , unsure whether it's 'acting' or not. Disappointed, he harshly rebuffs her and she loses the part to an icy cool little number with a headband and a seemingly constant fag on the go. She's all too happy to play "the method".

Thankfully, Kate's got her friends; not just her soon to be flat mates, but her rather considerate and caring downstairs neighbour, the blind middle aged Simon and colleague of her father, religious magazine editor Jeremy Mandl-Fry, outrageously played by the Zapata moustached Peter Bowles as a cliched toffee nosed Hooray Henry type complete with Bertie Wooster style stammer and a propensity to get worked up into a rather embarrassing vocal frenzy over anything that excites him, including of course, our Kate, whom he offers a job of 'aid' to at the magazine's HQ.

The opening episode ends with Kate tearing off the pages of a religious icon calendar as she awaits her flatmates. The symbolism in this scene is telling; there's a near mirror image of Kate and her baby son in her arms and the iconic imagery of a mother and child on the calendar, also the sweeping away of previous dates suggests a new day and a new start lies ahead for her. 

As I say I've only watched one episode, and I've only three more to go (the BBC wiped all but 10 episodes I believe, cheers Auntie) but I'm looking forward to watching just what lies ahead for the girls.

PS Did someone say Liza Goddard?

Perfect excuse to show (again) her bum from the film Ooh ... You Are Awful


  1. That's good to hear.I am reading Liza Goddard's biography at the moment and she claims that all the tapes were wiped.

    1. Yes its a relief to here some were saved from the mass wiping, but there's no luck yet in getting any official release on BBC DVD, which is a great shame.

      I've read Liza's autobiog and did recall that misconception. She later makes an error believing her 1980s Doctor Who serial Terminus pre-empted the film Alien. But the mind plays tricks I guess.

      Be sure to check my other posts regarding Take Three Girls, including a review for each of the four eps.

    2. Hi Mark
      Lovely to find a fan of Take Three Girls. I wrote to BBC more than once and never got a satisfactory reply about releasing this series. Interestingly Kirsty Wark was just on TV on The TV That Made Me. Take Three Girls was one of her favourites. Brian Conley offered her a boxed set - very misleading. She is going to be disappointed!

    3. Hi, oh really? I missed that today! I love this series and it's such a shame so little exists and what there is is only available as bootlegs of varying quality. Thanks for stopping by, please feel free to check all posts tagged Take Three Girls as I've blogged rather a lot about it over the years

  2. Only heard about this today for the first time and your blog was one of the first results to show up in Google. Looking forward to watching a few of these!