First Among Equals (TV series)

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First Among Equals
Genre Political drama
Directed by Brian Mills
Produced by Mervyn Watson
Written by Derek Marlowe
Based on First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer
Starring Jeremy Child
James Faulkner
David Robb
Tom Wilkinson
Music by Richard Harvey
Editing by John Bocking
D. L. Heyes
Production company Granada Television
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Original channel ITV
Original run 30 September 1986 (1986-09-30)  – 2 December 1986 (1986-12-02)
Running time 494 minutes
No. of episodes 10

First Among Equals is a ten-part serial based on Jeffrey Archer's 1984 novel First Among Equals, produced by Granada Television for the ITV network and first shown in 1986.

As in the novel, the series follows the careers and personal lives of four fictional British politicians (Simon Kerslake, MP for Coventry Central and later Pucklebridge; Charles Seymour, MP for Sussex Downs; Raymond Gould, MP for Leeds North; and Andrew Fraser, MP for Edinburgh Carlton) from 1964 to 1991, with each vying to become Prime Minister. Several situations in the novel are drawn from Archer's own early political career in the British House of Commons. While the novel depitcts the fictional characters interacting with actual political figures from the UK and elsewhere (including Winston Churchill, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, Douglas Hurd, Colonel Gaddafi, Gary Hart and Queen Elizabeth II), this adaptation uses different names for the real-life politicians.

The title of both the novel and the serial is a literal translation of the Latin term primus inter pares, a term used to refer to either the most senior member of a group of equals (peers) or to refer to someone who claims to be just one member of a group of equals when in reality he or she completely dominates said group. This phrase is used to describe the official constitutional status of the British Prime Minister within his Cabinet.

The series starred:

Actor Character
James Faulkner Simon Kerslake
Jeremy Child Charles Gurney Seymour
Tom Wilkinson Raymond Gould
David Robb Andrew Fraser

The serial used different names for real-life politicians:

Book TV
Harold Wilson George Bainbridge
Edward Heath Henry Lindsey
Reginald Maudling Christopher Morland
Margaret Thatcher Hilary Turner
James Callaghan Kenneth Hollander
Neil Kinnock Owen Hughes

Sequences set in the fictional Northumbrian constituency of Redfern were actually filmed much closer to Granada studios in Lancashire at Entwistle railway station, and at the Barlow Institute, Edgworth.

Granada constructed a full-scale replica set of the House of Commons chamber for the production, which for many years formed a central part of their Granada Studios Tour attraction, where visitors could see mock debates being performed on the set by actors. The set was also often used by other television productions wanting to set scenes in the Commons chamber, and in 2002 was purchased by the scriptwriter Paul Abbott so that it could be used in his BBC drama serial State of Play. Abbott, himself a former Granada Television staff writer, bought it personally as the set would otherwise have been destroyed and he feared it would take too long to get the necessary money from the BBC. He currently keeps it in storage in Oxford.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abbott, Paul. Audio commentary on the DVD release of State of Play. BBC Worldwide. BBCDVD 1493.

External links[edit]