Q & A: Strange Paradise; A Very British Coup

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to dig through my inbox and pull out a few choice e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to read. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

On ABC, c.1968, there was a short lived Gothic soap opera which came on immediately after “Dark Shadows”. I and co-worker both remember having seen it, but I’m unable to remember the name. How might I find out the name?

Strange Paradise, a Canadian-produced daily soap opera, aired in syndication in the United States from September of 1969 to May of 1970. A total of 195 episodes were produced. On June 16th, 1969 The New York Times called Strange Paradise “the first [dramatic series] to be produced for television syndication” and reported that it would be a joint production of four different companies: Krantz Films, Metromedia Television, Kaiser Broadcasting and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [1]. At the time, some 51 stations in the United States and Canada had agreed to broadcast the series [2].

Advertisement for Strange Paradise
Advertisement for Strange Paradise – September 9th, 1969
Copyright © The New York Times, 1969 [1]

Strange Paradise was initially set on the island of Maljardin in the Caribbean. Colin Fox starred as Jean Paul Desmond, the central character in the series, as well as his evil ancestor Jacques Eloi des Mondes, who occasionally possesses Desmond. As the series opened, Desmond was trying to bring his deceased wife back to life using voodoo and black magic. After the first 13 weeks, the action moved to Canada, where it stayed for the remainder of the show’s 39-week run.

In its review of Strange Paradise, The New York Times wrote that “after a couple of samplings a viewer comes away only with a new appreciation of the confusion of metaphysical gobblydegook and unlimited sympathy for an entrapped cast. ‘Strange Paradise’ has been advertised as a chilling enigma, not a bad innovation in hinting at cultural refrigeration” [3]. The series premiered on Monday, September 8th, 1969. If it ran five new episodes a week for the following 39 weeks, the final new episode would have aired on Friday, May 29th, 1970. In Canada, it premiered on Monday, October 20th, 1969; the series final aired on Wednesday, July 22nd, 1970

There was a 1980s (??) TV show featuring the British PM and the last Episode was Titled “Russian Gold”, when the PM secures a loan from the Soviets to solve his Government’s financial problems. The last scene in the Episode shows a blacked out helicopter in flight, suggesting the Military was about to overthrow the British Government.

Trying to remember / find the name of the series is driving me crazy!

Ray McAnally starred in A Very British Coup, based on the 1982 Chris Mullin novel of the same name. The three-part miniseries was broadcast by Channel 4 over the course of three weeks during the summer of 1988 (from June 19th through July 3rd). McAnally played Harry Perkins, the British Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party, an avid proponent of nuclear disarmament who kicks the United States military out of the United Kingdom and turns to the Soviet Union to solve his economic problems. But elements within his own government are working behind the scenes to overthrow him, with the help of the United States. The final installment ended with the suggestion that a military coup was in the works.

A Very British Coup was broadcast in two installments in the United States as part of Masterpiece Theatre in January of 1989. It won an International Emmy Award in 1988 for Best Drama. TIME called it a “crackling, contemporary political thriller” and a “political drama for adults” [4].

Works Cited:

1 “Chains to Sponsor Film TV Series.” New York Times. 16 Jun. 1969: 95.
2 Ibid.
3 Gould, Jack. “TV: Lena Horne, Young in Spirit, on N.B.C. Special.” New York Times. 11 Sep. 1969: 95.
4Zoglin, Richard. “Video: Red Harry’s Revolution.” TIME. 16 Jan. 1989 (Read Online at TIME.com).

Image Credits:

1 From The New York Times, September 9th, 1969, Page 94.

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