Armchair Thriller

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Armchair Thriller
Armchair Thriller.png
Genre Horror, Thriller
Theme music composer Andy MacKay
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 55
Executive producer(s) Andrew Brown
Producer(s) Andrew Brown,
Jacqueline Davis,
Brenda Ennisp
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time c. 23–26 minutes per episode
Original network ITV
Picture format PAL 4:3
Audio format Mono
Original release 21 February 1978 – 30 December 1981

Armchair Thriller is a British television programme, broadcast on ITV in two series in 1978 and 1980. Owing something to some of the offshoots of the earlier Armchair Theatre, the new series used scripts adapted from published novels and stories. Although not properly a horror series, it included several supernatural elements. Armchair Thriller was produced by Thames Television, but it included serials made by Southern Television. The format was of 25-minute episodes broadcast twice-weekly, usually screened on a Tuesday or Thursday between 8 pm and 9 pm.


The opening titles consisted of a shadow-figure walking to an armchair and then sitting down, accompanied by music composed by Andy MacKay of pop group Roxy Music. Some equally memorable trailers for the series showed an armchair soaked in blood and a screaming, maniacal face; these received criticism from those who considered them too horrific for pre-watershed viewing. For Armchair Thriller broadcasts Thames Television changed the station ident it used; normally it showed a London landscape in daytime, but here it was the same view as though seen at night.

The first series included an adaptation of Antonia Fraser's novel Quiet as a Nun. This introduced to television the character of Jemima Shore—who was later spun off into her own ITV series—and starred Maria Aitken. "Quiet as a Nun" proved to be particularly memorable, famous for the cliffhanger sequence where the 'Black Nun' appeared. Ratings increased, reaching a high of 17 million viewers during the broadcast of the first episode of "The Limbo Connection".[1] Other actors to appear included Ian McKellen and Denis Lawson.[2]


Series 1[edit]

# Title No. of episodes Directed by Written by Cast Production company Original air dates (UK)
1 "Rachel in Danger" 4 Waris Hussein John Bowen Della Low (Rachel), Stephen Greif (Juan), Eiko Nakamura (Aiyako) Thames 21 February–2 March 1978 (21 February–2 March 1978)
2 "A Dog's Ransom" 6 Donald McWhinnie John Bowen Benjamin Whitrow (Edward Reynolds), Zena Walker (Gina Reynolds) Thames 9–23 March 1978 (9–23 March 1978)
3 "The Girl Who Walked Quickly" 4 Brian Farnham Ray Jenkins Denis Lawson (David Cooper), Phyllida Nash (Liz), Clive Merrison (Godolt) Thames 28 March–6 April 1978 (28 March–6 April 1978)
4 "Quiet as a Nun" 6 Moira Armstrong Julia Jones Maria Aitken (Jemima Shore), Renee Asherson (Mother Ancilla), Brenda Bruce (Sister Elizabeth), David Burke (Tom Amyas) Thames 18–27 April 1978 (18–27 April 1978)
5 "The Limbo Connection" 6 Robert Tronson Philip Mackie James Bolam (Mark Omney), Rosalind Ayres (Annabella Fraser), Michael Culver (Dr. Walcott Brown), Beatrix Lehmann (Blanche Terraine) Thames 2–18 May 1978 (2–18 May 1978)

Series 2[edit]

# Title No. of episodes Directed by Written by Cast Production company Original air dates (UK)
6 "The Victim" 6 Gareth Davies Michael Ashe David Beckett (Frankie Martin), Lorna Yabsley (Sue Craig), Steve Morley (Len Trace), John Shrapnel (Vincent Craig), Paul Jerricho (Harry Turner) Thames 8–24 January 1980 (8–24 January 1980)
7 "Dead Man's Kit" 4 Colin Bucksey Tom Clenaghan Larry Lamb (CPO Chalkey White), Philip Locke (Cmdr. Lloyd), Maurice Colbourne (Lt. Cmdr. Kobahl) Southern 29 January–7 February 1980 (29 January–7 February 1980)
8 "Dying Day" 4 Robert Tronson John Bowen Ian McKellen (Anthony Skipling), Maurice Kaufmann (1st Interrogator), Prentis Hancock (2nd Interrogator) Thames 12–21 February 1980 (12–21 February 1980)
9 "Fear of God" 4 Robert Tronson Troy Kennedy Martin Bryan Marshall (Paul Marriot), Peter Cellier (Maitland), Michael Sheard (Colonel Morgan) Thames 26 February–6 March 1980 (26 February–6 March 1980)
10 "High Tide" 4 Colin Bucksey Andrew Brown Ian McShane (Peter Curtis), Wendy Morgan (Celia), Terence Rigby (Matthews), John Bird (Cyril) Southern 11–20 March 1980 (11–20 March 1980)
11 "The Circe Complex" 6 Robert D. Cardona David Hopkins Beth Morris (Val Foreman), Trevor Martin (Tom Foreman), Alan David (Ollie Milton), James Hazeldine (Dave) Thames 25 March–10 April 1980 (25 March–10 April 1980)
12 "The Chelsea Murders" 1* Derek Bennett Jonathan Hales Michael Feast (Steve), Guy Gregory (Artie) Thames 30 December 1981 (1981-12-30)
  • Originally made as a 6-episode story, but unscreened in this form; eventually broadcast edited into a single feature-length (104 mins.) standalone programme (i.e. not under the Armchair Thriller umbrella title).

DVD releases[edit]

The ten Thames-produced serials were released by Network DVD in 2008, both as separate stories and as a collected box set. The Southern-produced "Dead Man's Kit" and "High Tide" were released separately by Simply Home Entertainment, in 2009 and 2010 respectively.


External links[edit]