Knight Errant – 1959 model

Helping people in trouble: that’s the job of the Knight Errant gang

John Turner
John Turner – “Knight Errant”
TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 11 October 1959

THE enthusiasm is there — it is just that there do not seem enough causes any more. That could well be a wail from the Modern Young Man, and one which may well have prompted Adam Knight, the hero of Granada’s new hour-long series Knight Errant ’59 to take up his job. The first episode will be screened on Tuesday.

Adam Knight, played by John Turner, is a young man who, having tried a variety of jobs, decides that he wants work that will combine interest and excitement. Calling himself Knight Errant, he sets himself up in business. His aim? To help anybody — in any situation. Scope? There is plenty, and Adam, as a 20th century Sir Lancelot, is kept hard at work.

Helping Adam is Liz Parish, a former newspaper columnist, who gave up her job to become his Right Hand Woman. Liz is described by producer Philip Mackie as “chic, charming, witty, wise, sophisticated, warm hearted and cool-tongued. As quick with a helping hand as she is with a well-turned wisecrack. She wears her clothes in the manner of 1959 — sometimes 1960. She is, of course, beautiful.” The part is filled by blonde actress Kay Callard. Her past career will help her with the part too, for, although Kay modestly says her career has been “ordinary,” she has led a more varied life most.

After studying at the Twickenham Arts College, she worked on a Toronto newspaper, so she is well acquainted women like Liz Parish. A year later she went into advertising, and by the time she was 19 had her own agency.

Then an old yearning came back. She remembered her days in pigtails when no one would let her act in the school plays. “Maybe it was because I was a tomboy,” she said. “They just couldn’t see me as Juliet or the Fairy Queen.”

So Kay decided to “take a whirl” of acting. She started as an announcer and writer on a Canadian radio station, then took the plunge and headed for Hollywood. Bit parts followed and “enough work to keep body and soul together” for three years.

Then she returned to England to see the Coronation. Within a week she a part opposite Douglas Fairbanks in a TV play. “So I stayed in Britain,” she explains simply.

A woman and a suit of armour
Kay Callard has a word with a knight in armour

“I’m delighted with the part of Liz Parish,” she said. “She is such an ‘alive’ character. In between trips to the Manchester studios, I busy myself in my Chelsea flat — sculpting.”

Twenty-seven-year-old John Turner a punter. River, not race track type, that is.

He lives with his young wife, a former repertory actress, in a charming old cottage in Stratord-on-Avon. Oak beams, Anne Hathaway’s cottage round the corner and, of course, the winding River Avon, where, on sunny mornings, the Turners take turns at the punt pole.

“Can’t imagine why anyone wants to live anywhere else,” says ex-city dweller “All the actors and people I knew in London or Nottingham, where I worked in repertory, eventually turn up here.”

Tall, dark and blue-eyed, John has the sort of good looks that one often sees in women’s magazine illustrations.

If Adam is the Angry Young Man type, John Turner is not. Slow speaking, he has an easy, relaxed manner. His hobbies — nothing too strenuous — include collecting telescopes and photography.

Of his telescope collection, his wife says “It was all right when the first two or three arrived. They were a manageable size, but now they seem to be getting larger. We’ll have to move to a bigger house soon.”

Three people huddle round a desk
Kay Callard and Adrian Brown chat to John Turner (seated)
Richard Carpenter
Richard Carpenter

Not to let it appear that he is too lethargic, John told me he does weightlifting. “I used to practise a lot in the back garden, but now the weights are getting rusty behind the lawn mower.” John is delighted with the part of Adam. This will be his first TV appearance. He has so far acted mainly in Shakespearean roles, both at the Nottingham Playhouse and the Stratford Memorial Theatre. He played Marcellus in Peter Brook’s production of Hamlet and visited Moscow with the Brook company.

Third “regular” in the Knight Errant set-up is Peter Parker (played by Richard Carpenter), an earnest young author in the throes of writing a magnum opus entitled: “What is Wrong with Britain Today.” He is full of “angry young mannerisms,” but lacks that vital commodity: money.

Peter has had many jobs — Espresso bar attendant, office cleaner and the like. These keep body and soul together, and, as he explains, “leave the mind free for more important things.”

Richard Carpenter, tall, blond and looking younger than his 28 years, has this to say of his role: “I get to know Adam and like the work he does and the types he meets, so I work myself in as a sort of hanger-on cum leg-man. I’m also able to use the office typewriter for my book.”

In real life Richard Carpenter is himself a writer. He has sold short stories to magazines and radio scripts. But this is where type-casting ends.

“I don’t think I’m an Angry Young Man,” he said. “The only thing that angers me is to see or hear of people being pushed around.”

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