Ian Hendry + Gabrielle Drake – ‘The Tycoon’ by Kenneth Jupp – ITV Playhouse [1968]

Picture above: Ian Hendry + Gabrielle Drake – ‘The Tycoon’ by Kenneth Jupp – ITV Playhouse [1968]

The Tycoon [ITV Playhouse 1968]

In 1968, Ian Hendry appeared in the ITV Playhouse production of The Tycoon. Written by Kenneth Jupp, it formed one part of what is known as The Chelsea Trilogy, along with the plays The Photographer and The Explorer which were also produced for ITV Playhouse in the same year.

Gabrielle Drake (born 30 March 1944) is a British actress. She became well known in the 1970s for her appearance in television series, most notably The Brothers and UFO. In the early 1970s she appeared in several erotic roles on screen. She later took parts in soap operas Crossroads and Coronation Street. She has also had a long career on stage.

Her brother was the musician Nick Drake. She has consistently helped to promote his work since his death in 1974.

Synopses – The Chelsea Trilogy:

In The Guardian they mention that it, “in particular captured the spirit of a time of swift change.”

There is very little information available online about these titles, the following is all that I could find to date:

The Photographer “is concerned with the impact of a beautiful model’s suicide upon the emotional life of those close to her, in particular the photographer who made her famous and her younger sister.” [Source: The Playwrights Database]

The Explorer is [editor’s note: still trying to find the synopsis for this title!]

The Tycoon is “a drama about a businessman who becomes involved in the lives of a sculptor and his beautiful wife”. [Source: Ian’s Biography by Gabriel Hershman]

ITV Playhouse

ITV Playhouse is a British television anthology series that ran from 1967 to 1983 with a total of 245 episodes and featured contributions from playwrights such as Dennis PotterRhys Adrian and Alan Sharp. The series began in black and white, but was later shot in colour and was produced by various companies for the ITV network, a format that would inspire Dramarama. The series would mostly include original material from writers, but adaptations of existing works were also produced.

Actors appearing in the series included Leslie Anderson, Gwen Nelson, Ricky Alleyne, Pat HeywoodMichael ElphickIan HendryEdward WoodwardMargaret LockwoodJessie Matthews and Lloyd Peters. It formed part of a long tradition of TV plays and dramas that formed part of an era that many people refer to as the Golden Age of Television.

Other similar anthology series include:

Armchair Theatre which ran from 1956 to 1974 [ produced by Associated British Corporation (ABC TV) from 1956 -1968 and  Thames TV from 1968 -1974]

Play for Today – which ran from 1970 to 1984 [ produced by the BBC]

Theatre 625 – which ran from 1964 to 1968 [ produced by the BBC]

The Wednesday Play – which ran from 1964 to 1970 [ produced by the BBC]

Ian Hendry appeared in four of the productions which formed part of ITV Playhouse Antholdogy:

– The Tycoon (1968) 

– Thursday’s Child (1970) 

– The High Game (1970) 

– A Splinter of Ice (1972) 

The Tycoon – Cast

Major – Rudolph Walker
Guy Taylor – Ian Hendry
Jean – Gabrielle Drake
Jeremy – Michael Elwyn
Sandra – Jocelyne Sbath
Violet – Elizabeth Gordon
Gerald – Christopher Benjamin
Helen Taylor – Elspet Gray
Rachel Bell – Isobel Black
Peter Bell – Michael Pennington
Drunken Businessman – Anthony Roye


Director – John Jacobs
Production Company – Anglia Television
Script – Kenneth Jupp
Editor – Kenneth F. Rowles
Designer – Eileen Diss

Kenneth Jupp – Playwright, Novelist and Screenwriter


Kennth Jupp found success early in his career when, in 1959, his first play, The Buskers, was produced at the Arts Theatre, London, and won the International Theatre award and that year’s premier Arts Council award. Both The Buskers and his second play, The Socialites, were well received critically in New York, the latter being published there in 1961 as one of Three New Plays From England, alongside works by Bernard Kops and Ronald Duncan.

After this brilliant debut came a series of plays for television, on which he worked with the producer Sidney Newman, front-rank directors including John Jacobs, Philip Saville and John Gorrie, and actors of the calibre of Irene Worth, Wilfred Lawson, Robert Stephens, Michael Bryant, Patrick McGee, Michael Pennington, Susannah York and Derek Jacobi. I recall Lawson remarking in a penetrating murmur, “So, we’re working for the Aereated Bread Company,” as we assembled in the ABC television rehearsal room for the first read-through of Kenneth’s play Strangers in the Room (1961), directed by John Moxey. Tensions arose at once between Wilfred, great actor and accomplished tease, trailing a carefully cultivated reputation for unpredictability, and Mary Ellis, immaculate diva, on the lookout for the smallest sign of bad behaviour.


Picture: Kenneth Jupp – writer and author of The Tycoon [1968] – which along with The Photographer and The Explorer, forms part of what is known as The Chelsea Trilogy.

Most of the people in the room betrayed signs of concern: only the author, standing slightly apart, well-dressed but mildly raffish with his silk neckerchief (ties were the order of the day at a first reading) surveyed the potentially hazardous scene wearing an expression of unalloyed enjoyment. Later, when I became a friend of Kenneth’s, I realised it was not in his nature to feel censorious, nor did I ever know him to feel impelled to interfere with the events unfolding around him – no matter how embarrassing or calamitous.

He was a dedicated, accurate observer, and this was the quality that informed his early plays. By the end of the decade he was written about as “the most interesting emergent playwright”. The Chelsea Trilogy, televised in 1968 – The Photographer, The Explorer and The Tycoon – in particular captured the spirit of a time of swift change.

Picture: The Chelsea Trilogy, first edition book cover from November 1969 [Calder + Boyars Publishers Ltd]

Kenneth’s early years were spent in south-west London: he was born in West Hill, Putney, had a middle-class upbringing in Twickenham and was educated at Hounslow College. After a brief spell studying engineering at London University he worked in the coffee business in Brazil and spent time in New York and South America. After returning to London, he worked in the import-export business and began writing short stories. When he began to write a play, he realised that he had discovered his true vocation.

A Sunday Times critic remarked that “his people … have their origins in the irrefutable illogic of real life”. It is part of that illogic that talent, even brilliance and industry, do not always lead to lasting success, and there came a point when, for no apparent reason, Kenneth’s luck gave out. However, he did not for a moment give up the discipline of his chosen profession, and though, occasionally, one might see bewilderment in his face or the expression of an element of black humour, he never succumbed to envy or bitterness.

Screen rights to several of his plays were sold to Hollywood, but all the film projects foundered. In America he worked for a long time alongside Robert Bolt on his screenplay of George Sand, but again, this fell at the last fence. A brilliant dramatisation of the life of Mata Hari, commissioned by the BBC, fell victim to the budget cuts of the time, as did his screenplay on the early life of the French writer Colette.

For the rest of his life he wrote daily, building an increasing volume of plays and screenplays. His novel Echo (1980) was well-received in Britain and the US, and was later published in France and Italy. Dreams Are the Worst (1985), a comedy-drama about the travel and access problems of people with physical disabilities, was shown on Channel 4, and his 1988 adaptation of Clifford Odets’s 1949 play The Big Knife, about the avarice beneath the glitter of Hollywood, was televised in the US.

In the 60s he had married one of the leading models of the decade, Debbie Condon, the daughter of the novelist Richard Condon. When the marriage failed he spent many years living abroad in Europe and America before returning to London. He never remarried, and he and Debbie remained close friends.

In 2006 the Orange Tree theatre, in Richmond, south-west London, presented Tosca’s Kiss, his reworking of the English writer Rebecca West’s attendance at the Nuremberg trials. His friend and frequent tennis partner Harold Pinter had taken part in a reading of the play at the Haymarket theatre the previous year, and the considerable interest created by the full production led to plans to present the play in New York.

During Kenneth’s short final illness, he was sustained by Debbie and their daughter, the Emmy award-winning documentary film-maker Jemma.

 Kenneth Jupp, playwright, novelist and screenwriter, born 5 December 1928; died 18 May 2009


Source: The Guardian



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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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