A Suitable Case For Treatment (1962) | Stills : Gallery
BBC Sunday-Night Play” A Suitable Case for Treatment (1962)
Episode Cast (in credits order)
Ian Hendry … Morgan Delt
Moira Redmond … Leonie Delt
Jack May … Charles Napier
Anna Wing … Mrs. Delt
Norman Pitt … Mr. Henderson
Helen Goss … Mrs. Henderson
Jane Merrow … Jean Skelton
Harry Brunning … Mr. Delt
David Grahame … Ticket Collector
John Bennett … Policeman
Hugh Evans … Analyst
David Mercer Writer
Don Taylor …. Director
Morgan Delt is a failed irresponsible leftist artist and son of communist parents who own a fish and chips shop in downmarket London. The film starts off when his terribly upper-class wife Leonie has given up on him and has just secured a divorce in order to marry Charles Napier, an art gallery owner of her own social standing. Given the innately rich and personal world of fantasy he has locked himself into, Morgan goes off the deep end, enacting a series of bizarre stunts in a campaign to win back Leonie, including putting a skeleton in her bed and crashing her wedding dressed as a gorilla, for which scene Reisz borrows clips from the original King Kong film to illustrate Morgan’s fantasy world.
Still failing to win her back, Morgan now secures the help of his mother’s wrestler friend Wally “The Gorilla” (Arthur Mullard) to kidnap Leonie, who still nurtures residual feelings of love tinged with pity for Morgan, but in the end, Morgan is arrested and committed to an insane asylum. Here, Leonie visits him looking visibly pregnant. With a wink, Leonie tells him he is the child’s father. Morgan’s eyes and smile light up his sedated face with a malicious twinkle before he returns to tending a flowerbed as the camera pulls out to a longshot of the entire circular flowerbed—with the enclosed flowers arranged into a hammer and sickle.
Taylor, Donald Victor [Don] (1936–2003)
Television director and playwright, was born on 30 June 1936 at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, Hammersmith, London, the only child of George Alfred Taylor (1911–1985), engineer’s turner and later works manager, and his wife, Ivy Jessie, née Donkin (1911–1999). They lived in Chiswick, London, where young Don (as he was always known) attended the local grammar school and in due course won an exhibition to Pembroke College, Oxford. There he read English and nurtured a passion for the theatre. In his second year he contrived to direct a student company in John Osborne’s and Anthony Creighton’s Epitaph for George Dillon ahead of the official première a year later.
On graduating with a second-class degree in 1958 Taylor was invited to assist the director of the Oxford Playhouse, while also trying his hand at writing for the theatre, initially without success. There was, however, an alternative and, in the end, stronger lure. As early as 1951 his father had painfully assembled a TV set from a do-it-yourself kit, and Taylor had become an ardent viewer. He applied now for a BBC training course and was accepted in 1960. On 30 July the same year he married his Oxford sweetheart, the 21-year-old Ellen Dryden, daughter of Robert Dryden, a local government clerk. She was later herself a noted dramatist. They had a son and a daughter.
After one or two obligatory chores for popular crime series Taylor soon directed the first television play of his own choosing. For the next thirty years he would be a force of towering purpose in what, for him, was the most beautiful and versatile of all the scenic arts. Television was ‘capable of anything and everything the human imagination can conceive. It can be whatever we want it to be’ (Days of Vision, 267). In particular he loved the ‘buzz’ (as he termed it) of live production, the danger, the spontaneity, the extemporization. Of a number of writers he favoured, the one with whom his name became most closely linked was David Mercer. Both came from working-class backgrounds, though Taylor’s father had by then moved to suburban Wallington. Both were ardent, if troubled, socialists. Between 1961 and 1963 Taylor directed three Mercer scripts, Where the Difference Begins, A Climate of Fear, and Birth of a Private Man, which eventually constituted a powerful trilogy exploring the failure of socialism to live up to its ideals, either at home or abroad.
Another preoccupation of Mercer’s stemmed from a nervous breakdown he had suffered. A strand of baffling comedies of madness began with A Suitable Case for Treatment (1962), in which Taylor cast Ian Hendry, Jack May, the beautiful Moira Redmond, and the real-life Guy the gorilla, whose scenes he pre-filmed—for once—at London Zoo. Then in 1963 BBC television acquired a new drama supervisor, the Canadian Sydney Newman, and after one or two rebuffs Taylor convinced himself that he was being blacklisted. In fact he continued to direct for the BBC. The difference was that he now began to work for ITV as well, and also to set his sights once more on the theatre. He directed in the West End (a Mercer play, of course) in 1965. His own début as a playwright followed with Grounds for Marriage at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in 1967.
Taylor was fascinated by the seventeenth century, its poets and puritans and rebels. For a spooky BBC anthology series called Dead of Night he wrote and directed The Exorcism (1972), in which a dinner party in a smartened-up country cottage is invaded by the ghostly relict of a martyred Leveller. This was subsequently adapted for the stage. Round the other way, The Roses of Eyam, enshrining the plague-stricken Derbyshire villagers who sealed themselves off rather than risk passing it on, was performed first in the theatre (in 1970), then on television. When neither outlet seemed available, he would smuggle plays about Milton or Andrew Marvell or the nature of acting into the BBC arts programme Omnibus. A remaining enthusiasm, to do the Greek classics on the small screen, got off to a rousing start with the Theban trilogy of Sophocles, which Taylor translated anew and directed for the BBC in 1986. But four years later a like trio from Euripides was cancelled after the first instalment, and Taylor turned his back on television for good.
Taylor’s memoir of his television career, Days of Vision, was published in 1990. His work in the theatre continued, along with that of his wife, Ellen. They moved to Norfolk and set up an independent production outfit, First Writes, aimed at radio as well as the theatre. Taylor found time to translate Ovid and write a novel about the civil war as well as more plays. His last years were perhaps his happiest. For all the rigour of his professional creed he was, his wife said, a man of enormous joyfulness. He died of cancer on 11 November 2003 at his home, Lime Kiln Cottage, High Starlings, Banham, Norfolk, and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Banham. He was survived by his wife and their two children.