series The Good Companions, adapted
by Alan Plater from J B Priestleys
classic 1929 novel, makes its welcome
debut to home entertainment in 2011...
A MAINSTAY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE since its initial publication in 1926, The
Good Companions is the defining work of J B Priestley and is the book that
established the author as a national figure.
In 1980 Beiderbecke writer Alan Plater's definitive adaptation of J B Priestley's
acclaimed novel about a struggling concert party between the wars was brought
to the screen by Yorkshire Television with a pool of acting talent gifted enough
to carry off the comedy and song-and-dance routines and sensitive enough to
handle the more serious issues that beset The Good Companions.
Dominated by his wife (Barbara Young), disappointed by his football team and
made redundant by the company to which he had devoted much of his life, gifted
joiner Jess Oakroyd (John Stratton) burns his national insurance card and disappears
from the Yorkshire town of Bruddersford into the night.
Having lost the war of words with his wife over son Leonard (Ian Sharp), who
wants his friend Albert Tuggridge (Denis Lawson) to move in as a lodger, he
tells neighbour Sam Oglethorpe (Colin Douglas) that he "wants to see what he
wants to see" before he gets too old maybe even Canada, where his daughter
Lily lives. When Sam tells Jess that his nephew makes regular trips to Nuneaton,
Jess decides that it is as good a place as any to start his journey.
With a few pounds in his pocket, courtesy of a drunken George Jobley (Paul Luty),
Jess jumps on board the lorry he believes belongs to Sam's nephew. But he is
surprised to find he is in the company of the villainous Fred and Nobby, who
rob him of his money.
Broke but unwavering, on his travels Jess meets Joby Jackson (Alfred Lynch),
who sells goods at fairs and markets. Joby takes him on to the next part of
his journey, where fate takes a hand.
As luck would have it, while making his way down a country lane Jess happens
upon a damsel in distress. Miss Elizabeth Trant (Judy Cornwell) is on her way
to deliver a box of props to a touring company, The Dinky Doos, but her car
has broken down and Jess is able to lend a hand. It is a fortuitous meeting
that soon sees Jess at the ragged edge of show business working with a concert
The Dinky Doos has the good fortune to have three exceptionally talented performers
among the band of entertainers former teacher and songwriter extraordinaire,
Cambridge-educated Inigo Jolliphant (Jeremy Nicholas); singer and extraordinary
dancer Jerry Jerningham (Simon Green) and beautiful, gifted singer Susie Dean
(Jan Francis). But the troupe has fallen on hard times as their manager has
run off with pianist Marjorie Maidstone and the takings.
However, a happy event awaits them. Not only is Jess able to offer his services
but the wealthy Miss Trant has a trick or two up her sleeve and the newly-named
The Good Companions sets out to conquer seaside towns, industrial cities and
rural backwaters in a search for stardom and success.
Not everything is plain sailing as the past has a habit of catching up with
those who thought they had left it well behind, including Jess. And someone
is out to sabotage the show at one of the venues, with serious consequences.
Can The Good Companions overcome these difficulties and come out on top? Will
Susie and Jerry find the fame they dream of and Inigo who with Jimmy
Nunn (Frank Mills) learns the finer points of creative composition the
success he deserves? Miss Trant has found fulfilment with the troupe, but will
she ever find her lost love?
First filmed in 1933, this series is a fun, frivolous, amusing and thoroughly
enjoyable adaptation of J B Priestley's classic novel The Good Companions.
The Good Companions also features: Bryan Pringle as Morton Mitchell;
Vivienne Martin as Elsie Longstaff; John Blythe as Joe Brundit; Jo Kendal as
'Mrs Joe' Courtney Brundit; Patricia Brake as Millie Mason; Patrick Durkin as
Nobby; John Savidant (Coronation Street) as Pobbleby; Bill Dean as Ridvers;
Nanet Mahoney as Mamie Potter; Roy Kinnear as Alfred Nott; Anne Stallybrass
as Hilda; Ann Way as Miss Thong; Harold Innocent as Lawrence Memsworth; Margaret
Courtney as Lady Partlit; Meg Johnson as Effie; John Comer as Herbert Dulver;
Bill Simpson as Dr Hugh McFarlane; and a guest appearance by Nigel Hawthorne.
The Narrator is Leslie Sands; Costumes by Brian Castle; Stunts Arranged by Peter
Diamond, who also played Tulley; Original Music is by David Fanshawe; Executive
Producer is David Cunliffe; Produced by Leonard Lewis; and Directed by Bill
Hays and Leonard Lewis.
Television's brilliant The Good Companions: The Complete Series, adapted
by Alan Plater from J B Priestley's novel, is released on DVD, courtesy of Network
Releasing, on 29 August 2011. Total Running Time: 450 Minutes Approximately
| Discs: 3 | RRP: £24.99 | Catalogue Number: 7953583.
"…a fun, frivolous, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable adaptation of J B Priestley's
classic novel The Good Companions"
Maggie Woods, MotorBar