Theatre 625 Ep. ‘Miss Julie’ – Ian Hendry + Gunnel Lindblom. Review and Original Promotional Still [1965]

Picture above: Ian Hendry (as Jean) and Gunnel Lindblom (as Miss Julie)

Theatre 625 – BBC Production

Theatre 625 is a British television drama anthology series, produced by the BBC and transmitted on BBC2 from 1964 to 1968. It was one of the first regular programmes in the line-up of the channel, and the title referred to its production and transmission being in the higher-definition 625-line format, which only BBC2 used at the time.

Overall, about 110 plays were produced with a duration of usually between 75 and 90 minutes during the series’ four-year run, and for its final year from 1967 the series was produced in colour, BBC2 being the first channel in Europe to convert from black and white. Some of the best-known productions made for the series include a new version of Nigel Kneale’s 1954 adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1965); the four-part Talking to a Stranger by John Hopkins (1966) which told the same story from four different viewpoints, and features Judi Dench; and 1968’s science-fiction allegory The Year of the Sex Olympics, again by Kneale.

In a 2000 poll of industry experts conducted by the British Film Institute to find the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of the 20th century, Talking to a Stranger was placed seventy-eighth.

As with much British television output of the 1960s, many editions of Theatre 625 no longer exist, see Wiping. Some episodes, previously thought lost, were discovered in Washington D.C. in 2010. These recoveries included the remake of 1984.

Theatre 625 – Episode ‘Miss Julie’ [BBC Production – 1965]

Plot

Miss Julie has a torrid, strange relationship with her servant, Jean.

Cast

Jean – Ian Hendry

Miss Julie – Gunnel Lindblom

Christine – Stephanie Bidmead

Credits

Director – Alan Bridges [and writing credit]

Writer – August Strindberg

Translation – Elizabeth Spriggs

Producer – Cedric Messina

Production Design – Fanny Taylor

 

Theatre 625 – ‘Miss Julie’ Review By Louise Penn

The following review of Miss Julie is taken from the excellent LouReviews website created by Louise Penn. Before this website had even begun, Louise had already written a very thoughtful piece on Ian Hendry. At a time when there were scant resources online about his life and work, it was refreshing to find such a well written and balanced piece. The many comments beneath that article are also well worth a read:

Ian Hendry – The Original Avenger [LouReviews]

Louise went to see a special screening of the Miss Julie, Theatre 625 TV play at the BFI in 2014 and later wrote this piece based on her impressions:

This entry in the Theatre 625 series was adapted and directed by Alan Bridges, from the play by August Strindberg.  ‘Miss Julie’ is a heady and melodramatic mix of class rivalry, sexual lust, and psychological breakdown which is all the more intense from happening within the space of one night and day (or as in the running time here, 70 minutes).

Jean (Ian Hendry) is a valet who has ambitions to rise in the world and open a hotel, but lacks the capital (and probably the initiative) to live out his dreams.  He freely helps himself to wine from his employer’s cellar, but admits that the sight of the Count’s boots makes him feel ‘servile’.  Into this frustrating setting steps his mistress, Miss Julie (Gunnel Lindblom) who is bored with her privileged existence and physically drawn to Jean, despite the class differences between them.  She orders him to dance with her, and then teases and taunts him until eventually things progress to a head and their relationship clearly crosses a line which will eventually be fatal to one of them.

My initial feeling was that Lindblom (a Swedish actress) was too over the top in her role, and Hendry too reticent and modern, but as the play developed their styles began to gel, and in Jean’s character we saw that combination of vulnerability, arrogance, cruelty (the killing of the greenfinch) and sensitivity which characterised many of Hendry’s early roles.  Remember at this point it was still possible to imagine him succeeding in major leading film roles, even romantic ones, before fate placed him into the realms of character playing.  There’s a moment where Jean jokes about drinking being something you do to keep your partner company which may have echoes of the actor’s real life situation at the time, and I found this a rather sad moment of coincidence; still, this was a good role for Hendry – who looks great, speaks the dialogue well, and is eventually convincing in all the nuances of this complex role.

Bridges’ direction does not hold back on bringing the audience into the heart of the play, with extreme close-ups (sometimes of just eyes or mouths), odd flashbacks in vision and sound, and heightened dramatic performances especially as Julie realises a moment of madness has cost her far more than a fleeting moment of pleasure away from her position of privilege.  Her fall is ultimately tragic, the more so as you feel it will have no real consequences for Jean and his cook fiancée, Christine (a small role for Stephanie Bidmead, but she’s good, and you feel she really is the driving force in their relationship).  He is a weak man who will probably again rise to the bait if he is tempted, but he is destined to be answering the ring of bells in the servants’ hall for life.

Thanks to Louise for this review and don’t forget to visit her excellent website by clicking on the link below:

LouReviews Website 

 

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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