Created by Upstairs Downstairs’ Alfred Shaugnessy The Cedar Tree is a period drama set in the 1930s during the ‘Great Depression’, which is often referred to as “between the wars’.
The series, produced by ATV for the ITV network, was just one of the company’s many period themed dramas – although most were usually big budget prime time affairs. This daytime version tried to recreate the success however of another ITV company’s production – LWT’s Upstairs Downstairs. Indeed several of the behind-the-scenes creatives on The Cedar Tree had worked on ‘Up-Down’ (including Shaghnessy who also acted as script editor and producer for show.)
The series was set in Larkfield Manor and followed the lives of a middle-class family, the Bournes. The storylines focused mainly on daughters Elizabeth (21), Anne (18), and Victoria (16). Dependent on their parents for income and bound by the remnants of the previous century’s code of social behaviour, they represent a small backwater of Thirties’ life. The girls’ great hope is to find a suitable husband, and their expectations are high; but who is to know that what awaits all women at the end of the ‘Devil’s Decade’ is war?
It was a huge success for ITV between 1976 and 1979, despite the fact it had a relatively small budget making location filming very expensive and infrequent. As such the actual Cedar Tree wasn’t featured in the drama except for an animated version in the opening titles. Planned sequences featuring the tree in a storyline, to be recorded in 1979, were apparently aborted when the series was axed.
“According to some viewers one plotline featured the Cedar Tree being struck by lightening but due to the small budget this had to take place off-screen and all that was seen was the actors reactions to the event. The Cedar Tree has not been repeated or released on DVD but despite ATV’s wiping policy of the time surprisingly all the episodes are believed to exist in the archives.” NetworkDVD note.
Details of the exact release date for the programme are yet to be revealed, one episode of the production was previously released on the 2011 Soap Box DVD. As announced last month Network are also continuing with their release of other 1970s ATV daytime saga, General Hospital.