Although Priestley is recognised as primarily a stage dramatist he also wrote a number of
plays for television, a medium he embraced with increasing enthusiasm. His first
television play, for the BBC, was The Rose and Crown, which appeared in 1946 and which
is sometimes staged, even today, by amateur theatre companies. But it was not until 1957
that his first play for the ITV network appeared as part of the Armchair Theatre series.
This was Now Let Him Go, which was televised on 15 September, 1957. According to
Society Member Dr Alan Day’s invaluable J B Priestley’s Radio and Television Diary
the setting is an unlovely Northern town, Scroop, where Kendall, an aged and dying artist
who loses his memory…is lodged in a squalid railway hotel. He is fleeing from his family
and taking with him a set of paintings he wishes to save from their greedy clutches. The
family, and the press, descend on Scroop and the action depicts him fighting (for) his
victory over these pygmies.
The cast is headed by Hugh Griffith as Kendall. There is an extended entry on this
production in Dr Day’s book, copies of which are available from The Society.
The play has become the first Priestley television play to be released on DVD, as part of
an inexpensive four-disc set comprising twelve plays (dating from 1957 to 1967) from the
Armchair Theatre series.
1957 was something of a vintage year on television for Priestley. In addition to Now Let
Him Go there were productions of Laburnum Grove (BBC), Dangerous Corner (BBC), The
Glass Cage (Granada), Time and the Conways (BBC), The Stone Faces (another original
television play)(BBC), When We Are Married (BBC), and the first two of four episodes of
an adaptation of Angel Pavement (BBC).
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