When the Bradys first pitched the idea of a comedy series concerning a man torn between wife and mistress producers and agents alike all expressed the opinion that it had been done before ~ which made the writers believe they were on to a hit, because as a sitcom such an idea had never been explored before. In typical fashion the BBC turned it down as 'too racy' (have you seen what's on?) and various other production companies were off the same voice, all except LWT who now knew the Bradys style of old and who as soon as the idea was presented to them commissioned a first run of seven episodes.
Terence Brady as Barty Wade in LWT's
Pig In The Middle
The original cast was led by Liza Goddard, Joanna Van Gyseghem and John Quayle with Dinsdale Landen in the leading role of Barty Wade. In spite of opening to excellent reviews and viewing figures of 14 million for reasons mentioned elsewhere on this site the show nosedived and Landen left the show at the end of the first season of only seven shows, leaving the Pig with a rather large hole in its Middle. With the next seven scripts already written and ready to shoot the search was on for a
Liza Goddard who played Nellie Bligh
in LWT's Pig In The Middle
replacement actor but no suitable actor could be found, the ones most wanted generally being already booked or unwilling to step into the departed actor’s shoes. Bingham finally called in her writing partner from Long Stop and suggested that he should take over, a notion that did not appeal to producer Humphrey Barclay who had an odd aversion to working with actor-writers. When all else failed, Bingham then persuaded Goddard, Van Gyseghem and Quayle to help her make a home video with Brady as Barty which she then took hot foot to show to Barclay and Michael Grade, then LWT’s Head of Entertainment. Grade took one look at it and in spite of Barclay’s continued resistance insisted he booked Brady.
With Brady aboard the show then ran for another full two seasons, with ratings raised from four million at take over point to over 12.5 million. Buddy Bregman, the great American musical arranger and musician turned television producer bought an option on the show and sold it on to Carsey-Werner who then sold it on to ABCTV America. Brady and Bingham were flown out to Hollywood to help to write the series and apparently for Brady also to star in it since they were having the greatest difficulty finding the right home grown actor.
Terence as Barty in LWT's Pig In The Middle
They even flew Liza Goddard out to test for the role she had played so successfully in Britain but the producers were not impressed since Bregman insisted on reading against her at the audition instead of letting her British co-star do his job. Finally, with the pilot script finished, Brady was offered a four year contract to stay on in L.A. not only as the founder writer but now officially as one of the stars. The offer was refused, not only because the actor didn’t wish to spend the next four years of his life in a place where he was not happy but because Bingham and he had seen the changes that were being imposed on their show. Tentatively re-titled On The Side for the American market it soon became apparent that the parent company was more than a little nervous of going with a show they thought to have debatable content since they saw it as dealing with an extra marital affair. And so the standard sanitisation process was applied and by the time the offer was made to Brady to stay on and star the show was 100% unrecognisable from the show he and Bingham had invented and written. The producers even took the American star Brady and Bingham had suggested for the Jo Van Gyseghem role, Madeleine Kahn, and made her the star, finally launching the show as Oh Madeleine!, a kind of modern day I Love Lucy. To this day Brady still maintains he had a lucky escape, even though the show opened to good notices and was rated regularly in the top twenty shows. It was only finally taken off because ABC TV the parent company panicked when that year’s Olympic Games which were being held in L.A. looked like being cancelled and in a knee jerk reaction ABC as the Games' television host cancelled every show it then had in the studios! The Games of course went ahead but the shows were never re-commissioned, the irony being that in order for a series to go into what is known as syndication ~ when your show is shown on the loop on every television station in America practically for evermore ~ the magic figure to qualify for this is a minimum of 28 shows. Oh Madeleine! had been cancelled after precisely 27.
On their return to England Brady and Bingham moved to the country and barely slept at all for the next year due to regular telephone calls from the Coast at 2.00 a.m. for script conferences with their American producers. When the show finally went off air the writers then continued to write for various American television and film companies without ever returning to the States. In Britain they scripted two films, Love with a Perfect Stranger starring Taxi! star Marilu Henner and Daniel Massey and
Terence Brady and Barty and Joanna Van
Gyseghem as Susan in LWT's
Pig In The Middle
then Magic Moments starring Jenny Seagrove, John Shea and Paul Freeman.
Next came Father Matthew’s Daughter a new television series for James Bolam, Gabrielle Lloyd and the young Ray Winstone. It concerned a Roman Catholic priest who inherits his late sister’s child, was described by the writers as comedy drama as opposed to traditional situation comedy and was shown on BBC2 with ratings of 8.5 million. But even though it proved popular with the viewers it did not fit in with the new scheme of things as envisaged by the new brooms at the BBC and the incoming Alan Yentob swept it away.
Brady and Bingham’s move to the country, however, introduced them to a new way of life and inspired their final series for LWT, Forever Green. Based almost entirely on their own personal experiences they found themselves working once more with the Aldertons although this time not as happily as before. The first series was written as six films shot entirely on location and proved to be a runaway success but the writers thought the integrity of their scripts was called into question by a series of unauthorised changes they found being made after the final drafts of their films had been accepted for production. Failing to win assurances from both LWT and the independent production company making
The Aldertons in LWT's Forever Green
the series that this practice would stop with great regret the writers had to disassociate themselves from what had been one of their most favourite and exciting projects to date. The show went to a second series but without the original writers on board it very soon lost its way and what had been a big hit became instead a bit of a big miss.
After that Brady and Bingham stopped looking for work in television, not only because of what happened to Forever Green but because like so many of their contemporaries they realised the nature of television was changing and doing so both dramatically and rapidly. When they had started writing for the medium it was the time of the single play and the umbrella drama series, an era that attracted regular contributions from the very best writers in the country. Now they saw that world changing into one of endless soap operas, crass comedies and the birth of reality TV. They had always determined to write plays and comedies of only their own invention and other than accepting the invitation to write a couple of episodes for Robin’s Nest because Brady had worked so happily as an actor for the writers Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer on Cribbins and doing the television adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s all but un-adaptable novel Riders, they had stuck to their last. So after a couple of major disappointments when films and series were cancelled as the last moment, notably Lorna Doone which Brady had been commissioned independently to write for LWT and which was inexplicably pulled at the 11 hour only for the BBC to pick up the idea and film it with another writer, the partnership turned away from television, Bingham to return to the writing of novels which she then proceeded to do with international best selling results ~ see www.charlottebingham.com ~ and Brady to concentrate on theatre and films.