The Moment of Truth 1955 and Other Television Dramas

I am drawn to this, not from a memory I have but on reading an old Radio Times from 4 March 1955 what struck me was the cast which included Peter Ustinov – who had written the play – Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance, Janette Sterke, Hugh Griffith, Walter Rilla and a number of others – almost like a Who’s Who of Film and TV actors of the day

Peter Ustinov and Janette Sterke

This Television version starring Peter Ustinov must have been the first one to be done after 1951 – I don’t think that this survives as it would be just before TeleRecording began

First produced in 1951, The Moment of Truth saw Peter Ustinov drawing on recent history, presenting a situation not unlike that of France in 1940 facing imminent defeat by German forces.

In 1939 the French government then recalled Maréchal Pétain from retirement, a hero to the French because of his military leadership in World War One, and brought him into the government, making him Prime Minister just before the signing of an armistice with Germany and the creation of Vichy France.

However, this play is set in an un-named republic and takes a satirical approach to the situation but the comic edge does not blunt the seriousness of Peter Ustinov’s drama which must have been drawn from recent history of the time.

The Cast is impressive

BELOW – and a decade later, Kenneth More and Janet Suzman star in ‘Lord Raingo’

Joss Ackland, Joseph O’Conor and Kenneth More

In this production from Arnold Bennett’s book Kenneth More plays Sam Raingo a typical North Country business tycoon and newspaper owner who has a heart condition. The year is 1918 and the Prime Minister in office is Andy Clyth ( Joseph O’Conor ) a long time enemy of Sam.

Sam is bored with his squire-type life in Essex and his cold wife played by Sarah Churchill – and he is involved elsewhere anyway. His mistress Janet Susman is unhappy with the situation.

Sarah Churchill

Over a decade BBC Television gave us some really big productions. ‘Lord Raingo’ must have been just before ‘Ther Forsyte Saga’ but in the same year.

Kenneth More was in that too.

He later, of course, played Father Brown in a TV series that had just thirteen episodes – that was for ITV in 1974

Kenneth More as Father Brown in ‘The Hammer of God’

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