When the Boat Comes In TV Series Overview (1976)


Introduction

When the Boat Comes In is a British television period drama produced by the BBC between 1976 and 1981.

Set in Gallowshields on Tyneside between the two World Wars, this story follows the life of ex-sergeant Jack Ford and the Seaton family as they deal with the aftermath of the Great War, the Great 1920s Depression and trade union activists.

Outline

The series stars James Bolam as Jack Ford, a First World War veteran who returns to his poverty-stricken (fictional) town of Gallowshield in the North East of England. The series dramatises the interwar political struggles of the 1920s and 1930s and explores the impact of national and international politics upon Ford and the people around him.

Cast

  • Main:
    • James Bolam as Jack Ford (1976–77,81 / Series 1-4 / 48 episodes).
    • James Garbutt as Bill Seaton (1976–77 / Series 1-3 / 39 episodes).
    • Jean Heywood as Bella Seaton (1976–77 / Series 1-3 / 39 episodes).
    • John Nightingale as Tom Seaton (1976–77 / Series 1-3 / 39 episodes).
    • Edward Wilson as Billy Seaton (1976–77, 81 / Series 1-4 / 35 episodes).
    • Malcolm Terris as Matt Headley (1976–77 / Series 1-3 / 34 episodes).
    • Susan Jameson as Jessie Ashton née Seaton (1976–77, 81 / Series 1-4 / 30 episodes).
    • Madelaine Newton as Dolly (1976–77 / Series 1-3 / 30 episodes).
    • Basil Henson as Sir Horatio Manners (1976–77 / Series 1-3 / 25 episodes).
    • Geoffrey Rose as Arthur Ashton (1976–77 / Series 1-3 / 18 episodes).
    • Rosalind Bailey as Sarah Headley née Lytton (1977, 81 / Series 2-4 / 23 episodes).
    • William Fox as the Duke of Bedlington (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 13 episodes).
    • Lois Baxter as Lady Caroline No. 2 (1977, 81 / Series 3-4 / 15 episodes).
  • Recurring and Guests:
    • Michelle Newell as Mary Seaton née Routledge (1976 / Series 1 / 6 episodes).
    • Noel O’Connell as Young Tommy (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 6 episodes).
    • Catherine Terris as Miss Laidlaw (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 7 episodes).
    • Vernon Drake as Hotel Porter (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 7 episodes).
    • Isla Blair as Lady Caroline No. 1 (1976–77 / Series 2 / 5 episodes).
    • Roger Avon as Stan Liddell (1977, 81 / Series 2-4 / 5 episodes).
    • Ian Cullen as Geordie Watson (1977, 81 / Series 2-4 / 4 episodes).
    • Bobby Pattinson as Eddy Morton (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 4 episodes).
    • John Gabriel as Dr Stoker (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 3 episodes).
    • Ralph Michael as Father Courtnay (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 3 episodes).
    • Sheri Shepstone as Nellie (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 3 episodes).
    • John Malcolm as Poskett (1976–77 / Series 2-3 / 3 episodes).
    • Martin Duncan as Roddy (1977 / Series 2-3 / 3 episodes).
    • David Lawton as Tovey No. 1 (1976–77 / Series 2 / 3 episodes).
    • John Kidd as Tovey No. 2 (1977 / Series 3/ 5 episodes).
    • Christopher Benjamin as Channing (1977 / Series 3/ 3 episodes).
    • Colin Douglas as John Ryder (1977 / Series 3/ 3 episodes).
    • Murray Hayne as Norman Hodges (1977 / Series 3/ 3 episodes).
    • Peter McGowan as Len Laidlaw (1977 / Series 3/ 3 episodes).
    • Christine Anderson as Rosie Mason (1977 / Series 3/ 3 episodes).
    • W. Morgan Sheppard as Robert Joseph Dixon (1977 / Series 3/ 3 episodes).
    • Mary Larkin as Isobel Murcheson (1977 / Series 3/ 3 episodes).
    • Joby Blanshard as Milburn (1977 / Series 3 / 3 episodes).
    • Judy Loe as Tania Corley (1981 / Series 4 / 3 episodes).

Production

The majority of episodes were written by creator James Mitchell, but in Series 1 north-eastern writers Tom Hadaway, Sid Chaplin and Alex Glasgow contributed episodes, and in Series 3 Jeremy Burnham and Colin Morris shared writing duties with Mitchell. Mitchell also wrote three tie-in books to the T.V. show: When the Boat Comes In, When the Boat Comes In: The Hungry Years and When the Boat Comes In: Upwards and Onwards. The final book brings the reader up to date with the end of the second series of the TV show.

The traditional tune “When The Boat Comes In” was adapted by David Fanshawe and sung by Alex Glasgow for the title theme of the series. Fanshawe also composed the incidental music. The BBC revived the series in 1981, with the fourth series telling the story of Jack Ford as he returns to Britain penniless, after six years spent bootlegging in the US, and follows him as he sets up in London.

DVD Releases

All four series have been available on DVD in the UK.

Trivia

  • James Bolam, who played Jack Ford, and Susan Jameson, who plays Jessie Seaton, are married in real life.
    • They have performed together in several TV productions and plays.
  • Jack Ford, when he first appears, is wearing the uniform of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, an infantry regiment that was based in the north east of England.

When the Boat Comes In Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Michael Hayes … (10 episodes, 1976-1977).
    • Terence Williams … (10 episodes, 1976-1977).
    • Gilchrist Calder … (8 episodes, 1976-1977).
    • Paul Ciappessoni … (4 episodes, 1976).
    • Bill Hays … (4 episodes, 1976).
    • Vere Lorrimer … (3 episodes, 1977-1981).
    • David Reynolds … (3 episodes, 1981).
    • David Askey … (3 episodes, 1981).
    • Leonard Lewis … (2 episodes, 1976).
    • Ronald Wilson … (2 episodes, 1976).
    • Jonathan Alwyn … (2 episodes, 1981).
  • Producer(s):
    • Andrew Osborn … producer (28 episodes, 1976-1977).
    • Leonard Lewis … producer (13 episodes, 1976).
    • David Maloney … producer (10 episodes, 1981).
  • Writer(s):
    • James Mitchell … (writer and creator) (51 episodes, 1976-1981).
    • Alex Glasgow … (writer) (3 episodes, 1976).
    • Jeremy Burnham … (writer) (3 episodes, 1977).
    • Colin Morris … (writer) (3 episodes, 1977).
    • Sid Chaplin … (writer) (2 episodes, 1976).
    • Tom Hadaway … (writer) (1 episode, 1976).
  • Music:
    • David Fanshawe … (51 episodes, 1976-1981).
  • Cinematography:
  • Editor(s):
    • Bill Symon … (10 episodes, 1976-1977).
    • Sheila S. Tomlinson … (10 episodes, 1981).
    • Bryan Day … (8 episodes, 1976-1977).
    • Peter Evans … (6 episodes, 1976).
    • Dick Allen … (5 episodes, 1977).
    • Ian McKendrick … (5 episodes, 1977).
    • Dan Rae … (3 episodes, 1977).
    • Steve Murray … (3 episodes, 1981).
    • Malcolm Banthorpe … (2 episodes, 1981).
    • Julian Stenhouse … (1 episode, 1976).
    • Graham Walker … (1 episode, 1976).
    • Colin Rae … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Derek Rae … (1 episode, 1977).
    • Sam Upton … (1 episode, 1981).
  • Production:
    • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
  • Distributor(s):
    • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (1976-1981) (UK) (TV).
  • Release Date:
    • Series 01: 08 January 1976 to 01 April 1976.
    • Series 02: 29 October 1976 to 04 February 1977.
    • Series 03: 08 September 1977 to 15 December 1977.
    • Series 04: 17 February 1981 to 21 April 1981.
  • Rating: 12.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes (per episode).
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

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