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First Night

Season 1 Episode 4

Guilty

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Aired Sunday 12:00 AM Oct 13, 1963 on BBC
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Guilty
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Does even a guilty man deserve the death penalty?

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      • This BBC play was apparently demolished in the ratings by the live variety show starring the Beatles which was broadcast at the same time on ITV. (There were only these two channels in Britain in 1963). Author Terence Frisby claimed that his parents bought their first-ever television set purely in order to watch their son's first TV play - but he himself preferred to watch the Beatles.

      • This hard-hitting drama about capital punishment (not yet abolished at that time in Britain) was the first television play by Terence Frisby, a small-part actor whose first stage play had yet to be be produced in London. "Guilty" was a ratings failure, but BBC drama chief Sidney Newman was so impressed that he immediately commissioned a new play from Frisby. This, however, was turned down by Newman's successor, who complained that it was a light comedy when he'd wanted another tough drama. Frisby rewrote his new play for the stage - it became "There's A Girl In My Soup", which ran for many years in the West End, was produced on Broadway and filmed and also made him a millionaire.

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