Ian Hendry + Britt Ekland – ABC TV Armchair Theatre ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965)
Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland and Her First British TV Performance
In the film, Sellers plays Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the French Sûreté – an adaptation of a French play, L’Idiote by Marcel Achard.
Towards the end of filming – in early February 1964 – Peter Sellers saw a photograph in a newspaper of Britt Ekland, a Swedish actress, who had just arrived in London to film Guns at Batasi. Peter immediately began to figure out a way of meeting her. One possible reason for his immediate obsession is explained in the film The Life and Death Of Peter Sellers (2004), in which Maurice Woodruff is portrayed as playing an important part in Peter’s pursuit of Britt Ekland.
Maurice Woodruff (2 April 1916 – 28 January 1973) was an English clairvoyant and astrologer, born and raised in London. He achieved considerable fame both in his native England and internationally due to the perceived accuracy of his predictions. He presented his predictions to the public via newspapers and also via stage, cabaret and television appearances. His mother was the clairvoyant Vera “Woody” Woodruff.
He had a considerable number of private clients including several well-known celebrities. One of his most famous clients was the actor Peter Sellers, who was apparently reluctant to make any major career or life decisions without a consultation.
In one scene in the film, Maurice is seen suggesting that the initials B.E. will be very important in Peter’s life. It was meant as a prompt for Peter to pursue his career further with director Blake Edwards – but Peter mistook the initials as meaning Britt Ekland when he saw her photograph in the newspaper! Whether this is true or not is uncertain, but it is not difficult to imagine Sellers taking such advice and making it fit his own narrative!
On 19 February 1964, just ten days after their first meeting, the couple married and Ekland became famous ‘overnight’.
Picture: Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland – Wedding Day 1964
A Cold Peace – Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland and Peter Sellers
Sellers soon showed signs of insecurity and paranoia; he would become highly anxious and jealous, for example, when Ekland starred opposite attractive men. A classic example of this was during the filming of A Cold Peace, which was Ekland’s first performance on British TV. In some scenes with Ian Hendry, Britt was required to wear bikinis and also appear in bed with him (see picture below) – something which proved too much at times for the jealous and possessive Sellers watching in the wings! Gabriel Hershman paints a vivid and humorous picture of the filming in his biography.
A Cold Peace
Ian Hendry plays Richard Bligh, a middle-aged journalist who escapes his problems in London for some debauchery in the South of France. There he meets Karen (played by Britt Ekland) and an affair begins.
The play is written by Robert Muller, who also wrote An Afternoon Of A Nymph – Ian’s first ABC TV Armchair Theatre play.
Picture: Britt Ekland – portrait for ABC TV’s Armchair Theatre ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965)
Picture: Ian Hendry and Britt Ekland – In bed on set for for ABC TV’s Armchair Theatre ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965)
Picture: Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland and Roy Dotrice – on set for for ABC TV’s Armchair Theatre ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965)
Picture: Ian Hendry – portrait for for ABC TV’s Armchair Theatre ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965)
The two black and white stills below used to belong to wardrobe/ costume designer who worked for ABC TV. Years later she met my sister whilst they both were working for BBC Televison, and when she found out that she was Ian’s niece she kindly gave them to her as a present.
Pictures: Ian Hendry and Britt Ekland- stills for for ABC TV’s Armchair Theatre ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965).
Picture: Britt Ekland – TV Times Cover 18th December 1965
Ian Hendry … Richard Bligh
Britt Ekland … Karen
Roy Dotrice … Donald Timwood
Isabel Dean … Gwen Timwood
David Phethean … Kirby
Kathleen Breck … Marina
Robert Muller writer
Leonard White …. producer
Production Design by
Robert Farnon …. composer: theme music “Proscenium” (uncredited)
Norman Bogner …. script editor
Editor, Official Website of Ian Hendry
A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography: