Ten years in the life of A London family. Together they must deal with arguments, the ups and downs of romance, an infestation of raccoons and the approach of WW2.
Did You Know?
Upon completion (January, 1956) of Noël Coward's second CBS TV Ford Star Jubilee appearance in "Blithe Spirit". Noël narrowed down prospective plays considered for his third CBS special. In Jamaica, Noël sprang at his play "Present Laughter" cutting the script down for TV, planning for camera shots, angles and close-ups from the very beginning. Bill Paley was anxious for Noël not to do "Present Laughter", instead proposing Coward's 1942 London success "This Happy Breed". The play, written in 1939 but, because of the outbreak of World War II, it was not staged until 1942, when it was performed on alternating nights with Coward's play, "Present Laughter." The two plays later alternated with Coward's "Blithe Spirit." The title, a reference to the English people, is a phrase from John of Gaunt's monologue in Act II, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's Richard II. "This Happy Breed" had been made into a very successful 1944 British feature film directed by David Lean. In early March, Ford Motor Company announced in the press without warning that Noel's third television appearance was canceled because the ratings on "Together with Music" and "Blithe Spirit" had not been high enough. Noel flew to New York on Tuesday (13 March 1956) arriving at 9:45 p.m. in snow. Meeting Bill Paley Wednesday morning (14 March) at eleven o'clock, Noël's only policy was stately reticence and outraged dignity. Bill Paley received Noël, and his agents "Russel and Ham" with twitching apprehension! A CBS TV press release announcing Noël Coward's next CBS TV appearance had been postponed until October, when Noël would launch the new "CBS Playhouse 90" series with Noël starring in his play "This Happy Breed". Ford Motor and J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency had made their announcement to the press without consulting CBS obviously to humiliate Noël as publicly as possibly. Unfortunately, they had not taken into account the fact that Noël Coward's previous CBS TV appearances had been triumphant successes, ratings or no ratings. The reason for Ford's rage was the result of Noël ridiculing them in the Hollywood Press interviews for trying to censor some of his risqué lyrics in "Together with Music" and also certain specific risqué dialogue lines in "Blithe Spirit; TV audiences in the Mid-West were considered eminently shock-able and likely to alleviate their outrage by refusing to buy Ford cars. Bill Paley declared Ford's press release about ratings for Noël Coward's television special ratings being inadequate was false and untrue. By the end of March, all was changed around again from Ford's high eminence - Noël was now to do "This Happy Breed" on Saturday, 5 May, per the original network contract. Added to their discomfiture, Ford Motor realized that they had nothing prepared for the 5 May broadcast schedule and that they were up shit creek without a paddle. Noël's first instinct was to refuse haughtily. Bill Paley urged Noël with pulsating sincerity to do the damned thing on 5 May. See more
Version of This Happy Breed