Gentlemen and Players (TV series)

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Gentlemen and Players
GentlemenPlayersTS.jpg
Series 1 title screen
Genre Drama
Created by Dram Associates
Written by Chris Roose
Dennis Abey
Guy Meredith
David Wilks
Edmund Ward
Starring Brian Protheroe
Nicholas Clay
Claire Oberman
Edita Brychta
Faith Brook
Ending theme "Life's A Game" performed by Petula Clark
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 13
Production
Producer(s) Raymond Menmuir
Graham Benson (exec)
Running time 1 hour (including ads)
Production company(s) TVS
Release
Original network ITV
Original release 10 April 1988 – 9 June 1989

Gentlemen and Players is a British television series produced by TVS Television for the ITV network. An aspirational late 1980s drama series, Gentlemen and Players dealt with the struggles and intrigues involving two business rivals, Bo Beaufort and Mike Savage, set against a backdrop of high finance, opulent country homes and cricket.

Premise[edit]

Miles "Bo" Beaufort (Brian Protheroe) is a rich "blue blood" financier who comes from a wealthy upper-class family. Mike Savage (Nicholas Clay) is a self-made businessman from a more modest family background, who likes adventure. The two are old enemies, and when Savage returns from a stay in Africa (fleeing from a coup with a fortune in bonds), he chooses to settle with his wife Sandy (Claire Oberman) and daughters in the affluent Hampshire village of Hunton Magna, in a Georgian mansion that is next door to Beaufort's home. Unhappy about his new neighbour, especially when he joins his local cricket club, Beaufort schemes and uses the old boy network to hamper Savage's plans whenever possible. Rivalry between the two escalates as "old money" clashes with "new money".

Cast[edit]

Starring

Recurring cast

  • Paula Savage - Debra Beaumont
  • Kimberley Savage - Claudia Gambold
  • Liz Beaufort - Sara Griffiths
  • Kate Beaufort - Sadie Frost (Series 1 only)
  • Alex Castle - Osmund Bullock
  • Tom Fletcher - Leslie Schofield
  • Freddie Hall - Robert Ashby (Series 1 only)
  • Charles Neville - Terence Harvey
  • Sir Geoffrey Hinchcliffe - Nicholas Selby
  • PC Perkins - Lewis George
  • Jenny - Steffanie Pitt

Production & Broadcast[edit]

Two series were made between 1988 and 1989, comprising 13 episodes in total, mostly filmed on location in London and Hampshire. The first series, comprising seven episodes, was screened on ITV on Sunday nights at 7.45pm from 10 April - 22 May 1988. The second series, comprising six episodes, moved to Friday nights at 9pm, and ran from 28 April - 9 June 1989.

The press release for the series by TVS Television described Gentlemen and Players as "A story of money, class and rivalry set in the world of finance and gracious country homes.", with The Guardian newspaper describing it as "a kind of Dallas in Hampshire".[1][2]

Reception[edit]

Writing in The Guardian in 1989 (at the end of the second series), critic Nancy Banks-Smith mocked the "yards and yards and yards" of blue and white striped shirt material (a typical garment for 1980s banking and business culture) that many of the characters wear. "Everybody in Gentlemen and Players wore blue striped shirts to show they are something substantial in the city. It is as if the noble blood in their veins were showing through the clear white caucasian of their skins." Commenting on the casting of the series' array of unscrupulous businessmen, she noted "...Every untrustworthy face in Equity was on parade. Some of whom had eyes that operated independently. One [character] had a deeply unreliable moustache."[3]

Episode list[edit]

Series 1 (1988)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1 "Last Man In" Chris Roose & Dennis Abey Dennis Abey 10 April 1988 (1988-04-10)
2 "White Knights" Guy Meredith William Brayne 17 April 1988 (1988-04-17)
3 "Box Clever" Guy Meredith Dennis Abey 24 April 1988 (1988-04-24)
4 "One for Sorrow Two for Joy" David Wilks William Brayne 1 May 1988 (1988-05-01)
5 "According to the Rules" Chris Roose Dennis Abey 8 May 1988 (1988-05-08)
6 "It's All Who You Know" Guy Meredith William Brayne 15 May 1988 (1988-05-15)
7 "Stags at Bay" Neil Richards, story by Guy Meredith William Brayne 22 May 1988 (1988-05-22)

Series 2 (1989)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1 "Inside Track" Edmund Ward Stuart Urban 28 April 1989 (1989-04-28)
2 "Three Can Play" Edmund Ward Stuart Urban 5 May 1989 (1989-05-05)
3 "Hard Hat Zone" Ben Rostul Stuart Urban 12 May 1989 (1989-05-12)
4 "Loyalties" Edmund Ward, story by Robin Estridge William Brayne 19 May 1989 (1989-05-19)
5 "Black Gold" Liam McCaw William Brayne 2 June 1989 (1989-06-02)
6 "Another Square Mile" Edmund Ward William Brayne 9 June 1989 (1989-06-09)

Theme song[edit]

PetulaClarkLAG.jpg

The theme song played over the end credits, "Life's A Game", was written by David Lindup and performed by Petula Clark. Produced by Tony Britten, who also composed the incidental music for the series, the song was released as a single in 1988 by Fly Records.

Availability[edit]

There has been no domestic commercial release of Gentlemen and Players on any format in the UK. This is possibly due to ongoing rights issues after the production company, TVS, dropped out of the ITV network in 1992 and subsequently went through a number of take-overs. This problem affects the majority of the TVS programme archive as much of the original production paperwork and sales documentation has been lost during the intervening years.

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Sandy Smithies (9 April 1988). "Watching Brief". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ Mediagems (Gentlemen and Players)
  3. ^ Nancy Banks-Smith (10 June 1989). "Red Blood and Blue Stripes: Television". The Guardian.