Family Affairs was the first television serial broadcast on BBC Television. It was broadcast live on Saturday evenings at 9.30pm from 29th October 1949. I suppose it was the forerunner of the soap opera. For 14 episodes, with a short break for Christmas, the television public was witness to the adventures of the Connover family.
The family comprised of Linda and Henry, the parents; Tony and Marion, the elder children and Bunty and Martin the youngest children. Then there is the cook, Maggie.
The regular cast included:
Heather Thatcher (1896–1987) as Linda. Heather Thatcher had been appearing in films since 1915 including roles in But the Flesh Is Weak (1932); The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) with Douglas Fairbanks and Merle Oberon; Beau Geste (1939) with Gary Cooper.
Michael Shepley (1907–1961) as Henry. Michael Shepley appeared un credited in Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) and played Gower – Captain in the English Army in Olivier’s Henry V.
Denis Gordon (1925–1998) as Tony. Denis Gordon also known as Denis Goacher did not have many credits before this but would later appear in City Beneath the Sea an early science fiction serial from ABC.
Sam A’Deane 1929 as Marion. This appears to be her only credit according to IMDB. She was better known as Sarn A’Deane.
Betty Blackler (1929–2015) as Bunty. Betty was a child actress in the 1940’s. She appears to have left acting in the 1950’s.
David Preston as Martin. David only has a few other credits to his name other than this.
Madoline Thomas (1890–1989) as Maggie. Madoline was the oldest regular cast member and was still working in the 1980s.
The series was written by Eric Maschwitz (1901–1969) from an idea by Betty Farmar and produced by Michael Mills (1919–1988).
Eric Maschwitz started work at the BBC in 1926. He wrote for the radio and was editor of The Radio Times between 1927 and 1933. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1939 film Goodybe Mr Chips. He wrote lyrics for songs such as lyrics to 1940s popular songs such as “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” and “These Foolish Things”. He was later the BBC’s Head of Television Light Entertainment. Later he was assistant to the BBC’s Controller of Programmes, and he requested a survey to examionme ideas for a science fiction drama series, which ultimately lead to the creation of Doctor Who.
Michael Mills went onto produce and direct countless comedy series including All Gas and Gaiters, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Get Some In!.
The episodes were as follows:
Henry Breaks the News 29 October 1949
Linda and the Love Racket 5 November 1949
Tony Buys a Hypnotist 12 November 1949
Marion Digs for Gold 19 November 1949
Bunty Makes a Book 26 November 1949
Linda Lays a Ghost 3 December 1949 21.30
Tony Cultivates some Swedes 10 December 1949
Henry Tries his Hand 16 December 1949
Henry’s Folly 14 January 1950
Ah! The peace of it all 21 January 1950
Tony and the Fatal Dart 4 February 1950
The Laughing Cavalier 11 February 1950
Pigging It 18 February 1950
The show features guest appearances by Daphne Oxenford best known as the voice for BBC radio’s Listen with Mother strand from from 1950 to 1971 and Coronation Street, Joan Hickson Miss Marple herself, Ferdy Mayne star of countless films and the father of Belinda Mayne Delta from Delta and the Bannermen, Wallas Eaton of Take It From Here fame on the radio and latterly Ludicrus Sextus in Up Pompeii, Richard Dimbleby as himself and Sid James of Hancock and Carry On fame.
This show was never recorded and so is lost to posterity but can still be seen as the first of its kind on British television which makes it important to remember or, at least, mention.