Ian Hendry + Britt Ekland – Rare Promotional Picture For Britt’s British TV Debut In ABC’s Armchair Theatre Production Of ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965)

Picture above: Ian Hendry + Britt Ekland. Rare promotional picture for Britt’s forthcoming British TV debut in ABC’s Armchair Theatre production of ‘A Cold Peace’ (1965).

In what was one of my more surreal moments (and there have been many), I found myself chatting this week with Britt Ekland on Twitter. Whilst we were exchanging a few messages, there was a knock on the door from the postman – who had a special delivery for me. And the parcel’s contents? It was this black and white promotional photograph that I had ordered two weeks previously from a vendor in the United States. Some things just cannot be explained.

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Picture: Reverse side – Ian Hendry + Britt Ekland – ABC Armchair Theatre ‘A Cold Peace’ Rare Promotional Picture discovered in the States – but original copyright of from the Daily Mirror. It appears that this photo has also spent time in Buenos Aires with the Inter-Prensa!

When Ian Hendry negotiated his contract for his lead role in the first series of The Avengers, it was agreed with ABC TV that he would also be given two roles in forthcoming productions of Armchair Theatre. The first one was significant as it introduced him for the first time to his future wife to be – Janet Munro. The production was, of course, ‘An Afternoon With A Nymph’ (1962) – also written by Robert Muller.

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Picture: Ian Hendry and Britt Ekland. ABC TV’s Armchair Theatre – A Cold Peace (1965). Ian wore make-up and had his hair greyed to give a more mature appearance. This picture was kindly given to my sister by the wardrobe assistant who worked on this production.

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Picture: Ian Hendry and Britt Ekland by the swimming pool. ABC TV’s Armchair Theatre – A Cold Peace (1965). This picture was also kindly given to my sister by the wardrobe assistant who worked on this production.

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Picture: Stars of ABC TV – 1965. From left to right, Dickie Davies, Philip Harben, Dusty Springfield, Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg, Bruce Forsyth, Britt Eckland, Ian Hendry and David Buck.

A Cold Peace (1965) – ABC’s Armchair Theatre

The second Armchair Theatre production occurred some time later – in 1965 – but was also significant for two other reasons. Firstly, it was to be Britt Ekland’s debut appearance on British TV

Britt Ekland Armchair Theatre A Cold Peace 1965

Secondly, it also marked the beginning of a very good friendship between Britt and Ian. It is well documented that her marriage to Peter Sellers was extremely difficult – perhaps a gross understatement. But during that testing time, though, a very good friendship grew between the two – both of whom were also facing their own challenges of dealing with young families whilst being in the spotlight.

First broadcast: ABC TV at 9.05pm on Saturday, 18th December 1965. 90 minutes – black and white. The BFI hold a copy – but not yet released.

Plot:

A middle-aged writer/ journalist (Ian Hendry) escapes from London, his job and failed marriage – to a villa the South of France. There he discovers romance with Karen (Britt Ekland), who distracts him from the problems of his past. A troubled visiting couple, Donald and Gwen Timwood (played by Roy Dotrice and Isabel Dean) add a stark contrast to the proceedings.

Cast:

Ian Hendry – Richard Bligh
Britt Ekland – Karen
Roy Dotrice – Donald Timwood
Isabel Dean – Gwen Timwood
David Phethean – Kirby
Kathleen Breck – Marina

Director – Don Leaver
Producer – Leonard White
Writer – Robert Muller

 

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Leonard White’s excellent book ‘Armchair Theatre – The Lost Years‘ provides further details on this episode. In particular, he mentions two particular issues – one technical and one to do with the censors!

The technical issue was that this production was supposed to be set at a villa in the South of France and so required an opulent setting which included a large swimming pool! This had to be constructed at Studio One at Teddington and the shear weight and volume of water involved led to leaks!

As Leonard White explained in his book, this had a definite affect on the filming:

The tempo of shooting during that recording was raised considerably!

and:

We got the show in the can, but not all the water!


Picture: Ian Hendry and Britt Ekland – pictured in bed in a scene from the television drama series ‘Armchair Theatre – A Cold Peace’ in 1965. Note the studio assistant pictured just off set – top-left of the photo!

The censorship issue was a little more delicate – at least back then! But as Leonard explained, it was good for both publicity and ratings!

The Press

ITA Censors Britt Ekland Play
– Daily Telegraph

Britt Ekland’s TV Debut Censored
– Daily Mail

TV Censor Cuts Britt’s Love Scene
– Daily Express

In fact, Leonard White states that only a short piece of tape was cut – just 12 inches long – which he kept for years in his own personal scrapbook!

It was reported that the objections were that:

Ian Hendry fondled Miss Ekland a little too fondly

The particular scene in question was of course extremely mild, apparently Ian was laying fully clothed on bed! How time’s have changed.

Of course, videotapes back then were expensive and it was the first time that Leonard White had been involved in having to make such a cut – thus rendering it’s reuse impossible. The cost of the tape had to be set against the production’s costs.

Our very best wishes go to Britt Ekland – wishing you much peace.

Until next time,

Neil Hendry
Editor, Official Tribute To Ian Hendry

Further Reading

A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography:

Read: ‘Send in the Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ by Gabriel Hershman

Send In The Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry

 

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