Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill

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Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill
Ready When You Are, Mr McGill 1976 DVD.jpg
The DVD cover of the 1976 version
Directed by Mike Newell
Produced by Michael Dunlop
Written by Jack Rosenthal
Starring Joe Black
Jack Shepherd
Mark Wing-Davey
Stanley Lebor
Fred Feast
Cinematography David Wood
Edited by Tony Ham
Distributed by Granada Television
Release date
Running time
52 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill is a feature length TV drama, written by Jack Rosenthal. ITV produced two versions, in 1976 and 2003. The 1976 version was the first in a series of six single television plays called "Red Letter Days" each of which showed the events in a single, special day in someone's life. The 2003 version was a remake which was partly rewritten by Rosenthal.[1]


The Ready When You Are, Mr McGill story is centered on the filming of a movie. A television actor-extra (Joe McGill) is finally given a line to say to camera. While filming, a collection of comical mishaps occur to create chaos on-set.

1976 version[edit]

In the 1976 adaptation Joe Black takes the lead role of Joe McGill. It aired on ITV on 11 January 1976. The story revolves around a British soldier and his relationship with a suspicious School Mistress, set in 1940. McGill's line is "I've never seen that young Lady in my life before, and I've lived here fifty years". Jack Shepherd plays the stressed director, and Mark Wing-Davey is his assistant.

This version has been released on Region2 DVD by Network DVD, both as part of the compilation Jack Rosenthal at ITV, and as part of Red Letter Day.

2003 version[edit]

Ready When You Are, Mr McGill
Directed by Paul Seed
Produced by Lynn Horsford
Analisa Barreto
Written by Jack Rosenthal
Starring Amanda Holden
Bill Nighy
Tom Courtenay
Sally Phillips
Music by Martin Phipps
Cinematography John Kenway
Edited by Dave King
Distributed by ITV
Release date
Running time
95 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

In the 2003 adaptation Tom Courtenay takes the lead role of Joe McGill. The story is centered on the filming of a movie starring Amanda Holden as a police officer and Bill Nighy as an increasingly frustrated director. McGill's line was, "I've never seen the young man in my life before, and I've worked here forty years."

Television industry[edit]

Rosenthal said his rewrite had turned the drama into a criticism of Television executives, and argued that "the industry has gone crazy and it needs a new generation to change it into something better". He also criticised television schedulers. Although completed early in 2003 the resulting film was held back[2] and had not been screened by the time Rosenthal died in May 2004; it turned out to be his last work. It was first screened, not on ITV but on Sky Movies 1, in September 2004.[3]

Rosenthal's widow Maureen Lipman claimed that TV executives were reluctant to screen the film which was "maybe too acerbic".[4] In April 2005 she challenged the management of ITV to show the film as a tribute to Rosenthal, threatening to kill them if it was put in a slot outside primetime.[5] It was eventually shown on Boxing Day 2005, beginning at 11:05 PM.[6]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Maureen Paton, "Back to the write stuff", The Times, 13 January 2003, p. 15.
  2. ^ Steve Pratt, "In the Picture - Left on the shelf", Northern Echo, 24 April 2004, p. 11.
  3. ^ Matthew Sweet, "The last word", The Independent, 9 September 2004, p. 6-7.
  4. ^ Guy Adams, "Pandora", The Independent, 30 November 2004, p. 10.
  5. ^ Kathryn Spencer, Julie Carpenter and Kate Bohdanowicz, "Day & Night", The Express, 25 April 2005.
  6. ^ Terry Ramsey, "Pick of the day", Evening Standard, 23 December 2005.