In one of those strange little quirks of fate, having decided a couple of weeks ago that this Friday’s classic clip should feature That Was The Week That Was, it emerged today that one of the satirical show’s writers, the journalist, novelist, playwright and TV and film scriptwriter Keith Waterhouse (below left), had died at the age of 80.
In addition to being a writer for TW3 and it’s satirical successors in the 1960s The Frost Report and BBC-3, he also wrote the 1959 novel Billy Liar (which was subsequently adapted into a play, a 1963 film directed by John Schlesinger, starring Tom Courtenay and a popular 1970s ITV sitcom). His other TV work included creating Budgie, starring Adam Faith and Ian Cuthbertson, and writing kids show Worzel Gummidge, based on the novels by Barbara Euphan Todd and starring Jon Pertwee.
His best -known screenplay was Whistle Down The Wind. The film was based on the novel by Mary Hayley Bell and starred her daughter Hayley Mills as one of a group of children who mistake an injured criminal hiding in a barn for Jesus. Later works included the acclaimed play Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, based on the life of Waterhouse’s fellow hack.
This week’s classic clip has nothing directly to do with Waterhouse but was a landmark moment both for TW3 and live TV in Britain in general. It’s from a 1962 edition, which was being watched by 11million viewers.
Just as he is about to present an item, Bernard Levin (right) – a regular on the show and noted for his scathing, acerbic wit both on TV and in print – was confronted by a member of the audience who turned out to be film-maker, writer and musician Desmond Leslie, who had taken exception to a poor review that Levin had written of a show Leslie’s then wife, Agnes Bernelle was starring in.