Bringing Charles Endell, Esquire back

Charles Endell

I wrote on this blog, about a month ago, about a project I’ve been working on with Scottish broadcaster STV to bring their television archive to a new audience on YouTube. The last fortnight has seen my first major piece of work come to fruition with the release of 1979’s Charles Endell, Esquire.

Now a footnote in TV history, there’s very little information out there about the creation of the programme or the reasons for its demise, something I wanted to remedy when I joined the team at STV. We knew that the series had only lasted six episodes, but it wasn’t clear whether all episodes were actually screened on UK television – a 1979 ITV union strike took Endell off the air after only two episodes had aired and rumours suggested they remaining four had never been transmitted.

In 1979, Endell was something of a prestige programme for STV, winning a Saturday night slot and a TV Times front cover, so we wanted to treat it with the respect it deserved. I began looking around for members of the cast and crew who might be willing to discuss it, using online discussion forums, Spotlight and personal contacts for information.

In the end I managed to track down series creator, Robert Banks Stewart, actors Tony Osoba and Rohan McCullough and director David Andrews. As Andrews lived locally to the STV studios, we invited him in to be filmed for an hour or so, and he kindly gave us enough material for three new videos, the first of which is now online:

We also decided to create some other new videos to promote the series, with a one minute trailer added to YouTube in October, and a longer compilation, The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Endell, Esquire, joining it shortly after (if you think these are good, you should hear some of the stuff I had to leave out):

Using material gathered from the interviews and other sources, I’ve written a pretty comprehensive overview of the series for the STV website, which touches on the rise and fall of Endell, and, with help from fellow blogger Frank Collins, we’ve also added coverage from the TV Times from 1979.

In fact, Frank has been a huge help in the promotion of the series, not only supplying some details hidden away in old copies of the TV Times, but agreeing to write a comprehensive review of the series for his excellent site, Cathode Ray Tube. Knowing that it’s not enough to simply add six episodes of a series to YouTube and hope for the best, by approaching Frank I hoped he’d be able to add some perspective to the show, the only stipulation being that he didn’t feel pressurised into writing a positive review – he was free to say what he wanted.

Another blogger who accepted the challenge to write something new about an ageing series was Walter Dunlop (who also provided some archive clippings from The Times), owner of the superb Lady Don’t Fall Backwards, while writer and one-time podcaster, William Gallagher, kindly alluded to the release of the series on his now ex-podcast, UK DVD Review. We’ve also been engaging with TV fans on forums such as The Mausoleum Club and Roobarb’s Forum, where we’re getting some great suggestions for other series which could be released from the vaults.

Finally, we were also lucky to have some interest from a Scottish newspaper, The Sunday Mail, journalist Maggie Barry coming into the STV offices a few weeks ago to find out more about this obscure series, before writing about it in last Sunday’s paper.

As of today, we’ve had just over 4,500 views of Endell-related video content, 1,177 for the first episode alone, which went online one week ago today: not bad for a programme forgotten about by most.

It’s been a challenging and exciting few months: being involved in editing videos, interviewing cast and crew, writing the articles and promoting the series has been hugely rewarding. Speaking to Tony Osoba recently, he noted how sad he was in 1980 when he learned the programme wouldn’t be recommissioned: I hope we’ve done him and his colleagues justice with how we’ve treated his show 30 years on.

Watch more Charles Endell, Esquire on YouTube or visit the Charles Endell section of the STV website for more background to the series.

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