First Among Equals (TV series)
|First Among Equals|
|Directed by||Brian Mills|
|Produced by||Mervyn Watson|
|Written by||Derek Marlowe|
|Based on||First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer|
|Music by||Richard Harvey|
|Editing by||John Bocking
D. L. Heyes
|Production company||Granada Television|
|Original run||30 September 1986– 2 December 1986|
|Running time||494 minutes|
|No. of episodes||10|
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:
|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:
|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.