Kaleidoscope Publishing are to release the autobiography of one of TV’s unsung pioneers, Rex Firkin, which promises to reveal the highs, lows, triumphs and tragedies of making some of Britain’s most brilliant and popular classic drama series.
Firkin was an “ITV man” the whole of his working life, first with ATV and then as head of drama at London Weekend Television (LWT), and was responsible for some of independent television’s biggest hits of the 1960s and ’70s — from Emergency Ward 10, The Plane Makers, and The Power Game to Upstairs, Downstairs, Manhunt, Budgie and Bouquet of Barbed Wire.
In High Drama – My Life In Television, Firkin offers an intimate and fascinating memoir covering his trailblazing 35-year career from the 1950s to mid ’80s, presenting a vivid picture of ITV during its heyday.
He takes readers behind the scenes on all his famous programmes and vividly recalling the high points — and occasional disasters — encountered along the way.
Fellow TV director and producer David Reid (Catweazle, Sapphire & Steel) says, “Rex had an unerring and abiding instinct for popular drama from Deadline Midnight to C.A.T.S. Eyes and, quite possibly, for that reason alone, he has never truly achieved the recognition he deserves.
“Because, back in the fifties and sixties, television drama was barely out of its infancy he was not only a very considerable influence on the way it developed in this country but also, through his work, went a long way to educating audiences how to enjoy and appreciate drama on television.
“He was a genuine pioneer, well worth remembering; well worth celebrating!”
Emergency Ward 10, An ATV Elstree production for ITV.
The 156-page book, released in paperback and digital format by classic TV publisher Kaleidoscope Publishing, has been complied and edited by writer and TV producer Richard Marson, whose recent output includes nostalgic BBC documentary Tales of Television Centre.
Firkin, now in his late 80s, adds, “I was present in the engine room of commercial television at an interesting period — the very beginning.
“Because we started it all and knew absolutely nothing, the blind led the blind. In many ways, that was the reason for writing this book — to let the future know what it was like then.”
High Drama has received praise from the likes of former BBC chairman and ITV vice-chairman Michael Grade, who started his broadcasting career with LWT back in 1973, for bringing Firkin the long-overdue recognition he deserves.
Grade said: “The name of Rex Firkin is unlikely to appear on anyone’s list of the most successful television drama practitioners of the last fifty years. These memoirs ought to redress that serious omission.
“There are very few practitioners who managed to combine high quality and mass popularity in drama the way Rex could.”
Upstairs Downstairs, LWT for ITV.
High Drama – My Life In Television is out now through Kaleidoscope Publishing, priced £13. 99. Visit www.kaleidoscopepublishing.co.uk.