Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley, Johnny Goodman
Producer: Jacqueline Davis
Director: Alvin Rakoff
PARADISE POSTPONED/Episode 1/Intro by Alistair Cooke
Good evening, I'm Alistair Cooke.
Tonight we begin a television drama that as a Masterpiece Theatre offering is unique in several ways. First, the adaptation from the novel was done by the novelist himself. Second, it's a modern novel that breaks with the almost compulsory form of the modern novel today, which is usually a diary of the life, loves, and tantrums of the author and his or her friends. This goes back as Trollope and Dickens conceived it--a cluster of many characters caught in the maelstrom of a changing society. And finally, the writer, the novelist, the playwright himself, must be the only top-ranking lawyer in the world who has ever created an immortal television character. The character is Horace Rumpole, of the Bailey. And his creator, John Mortimer, the large, genial, droll, bespectacled, rather rumply character himself. He's now in his sixties and he's left the law forever in order to devote his time entirely to writing. We shall have more to say later about the remarkable career of John Mortimer.
Now for this new series Paradise Postponed. It's about the life, told manly from the late 1950s into 1985, of one of those old English villages, which tourists like to explore and fantasize about the life there, the medieval church, the ancient barn, the Georgian manor house. Well, the shell of such a place still looks the same, but what goes on inside it is centuries away from what it was built for. Today in England there are not many churchgoers. The barn could well be a swimming pool with a sauna and likely as not, a rock star would own the manor house, where the local Bobbies go from time to time searching for drugs.
Now this village is on the Thames and is called Rapstone and the whole story is about a saintly, if left wing, Church of England parson, a rector, the Reverend Simeon Simcox. He's on his deathbed, but he's about to drop a small thunderbolt from the grave, in a will that stuns his family. Now he has two sons, one Henry, a writer, the other Fred, a doctor, and they both get involved with a sultry strawberry-blonde named Agnes, who is the daughter of the Rector's doctor.
From time to time, we flash forward into 1985, to see how the mystery of the Rector's will is being gone into. In fact we begin in 1985 with the Rector on his deathbed indulging the odd illusion that God is probably like his doctor. And very soon, we shall be at the funeral of the Reverend Simeon Simcox. It is what V. S. Pritchett has called, one of those bracing English funerals notable for undercurrents and for what will go wrong.
Paradise Postponed, episode one.
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