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THE BROTHERS was a compelling TV series about the bedroom and boardroom strife endured by three conflicting brothers at the family trucking business Hammond Transport, running for an impressive 92 episodes between 1972 and 1976. It gave a big break to future household names like Kate O’Mara, Liza Goddard, Gabrielle Drake and of course our own Colin Baker.

The gritty BBC serial, created by Gerard Glaister and writer NJ Crisp, caught the attention of the viewing public to such a large degree that Colin’s loathsome city banker Paul Merroney was voted the ‘Most Hated Man In Britain’ by readers of The Sun newspaper. The theme tune, composed by legendary television scorer Dudley Simpson, heralded the show which became a staple of the Sunday night drama slot.

You can hear the theme playing on this page.

Colin Baker as Paul Merroney in 1976.

The series began in 1972 with a classic scene that has gone down as one of the best in TV history. Old man Hammond has died, but caused mayhem from beyond the grave by leaving his trucking firm to his three sons and his secretary Jennifer Kingsley, played by Jennifer Wilson. It soon turned out that she has a very big secret – Hammond’s love child. Hammond’s wife Mary – played by the late Jean Anderson – spent all 92 episodes fighting her arch rival Jennifer Kingsley, who had slept with her husband 20 years before deciding she wanted to marry their son Edward Hammond (Glyn Owen).

Jennifer Wilson, who played Hammond’s mistress, recalls­ the storylines and their impact on the public:

“I wasn’t sure I should marry Edward," she says. “On the face of it, I had been the mistress of his father.I had his illegitimate daughter, I was now about to think about marrying his eldest son. Amazingly enough, the audience loved it. They were willing it. They were so pleased when it happened.”

(left to right) Richard Easton, Jean Anderson and Robin Chadwick.

Robin Chadwick (David Hammond) remembers: “We got very nicely written letters from vicars all over the country asking if the BBC could possibly put it on a little later because half their congregation was getting up and leaving during their sermons to get home in time to watch The Brothers.”

“A phone call came in from the foreign minister of Israel”, Colin Baker delights in telling, “He said that not only was he devastated not to be able to come and meet us as he was such a fan, but he suggested that had the Six Day War been launched on the Arab nations on the day that The Brothers was being shown instead of Yom Kippur, they would have had more of a chance of taking the nation by surprise because everybody watched The Brothers!"

The show became hugely popular in Scandanavia (where it was re-titled "The Hammonds") as well as Israel, and the cast recorded an album of festive songs for the Philips Record label.

The show might have been cancelled after just 10 episodes when the leading man, the late Glyn Owen, walked out. “Glyn persuaded himself that he was the star,” says his screen brother Richard Easton (Brian Hammond). “He was the eldest son. He thought the BBC couldn’t do it without him – he thought wrong.”

At the end of the first series, Glyn left and Patrick O’Connell took over the role of Edward Hammond for the remaining six series. Patrick eventually left the acting profession to persue a career as a painter.

“A lot of people complained about the fact that there was too much smoking and drinking in The Brothers, but at least we weren’t all getting our kit off and pretending to be having sex,” muses Derek Benfield (Bill Riley).

After 92 episodes, The Brothers was cancelled, but nobody bothered about telling the stars of the show. “It was extraordinary,” says Liza Goddard (April Merroney). “The BBC never said a word. We were just mystified because we kept thinking ‘well, I wonder when they are going to ring up and say we’re going to do another series?’, but they never did. I never know to this day why they stopped it.”

Hammond family matriach Jean Anderson found further fame in the BBC's critically acclaimed Japanese prisoner of war drama Tenko between 1981 - 1983. She died in 2001, aged 93.

After The Brothers, Robin Chadwick struggled to find acting work in Britain. “I took myself off and did jobs on building sites. Just after we finished the first seriesI was scrubbing lavatories at the Wigmore Studios.” Robin set off for America and a new life with his wife Susan. “I’ve had time on Broadway and I’ve worked steadily over there so my wife and I bought a place just just on the edge of New York, and we also have a little farm in Pensylvania.”

Shortly after the show, Richard Easton, a Canadian by birth, went to America too. He has worked as an actor and part-time teacher ever since. By his own admission he’s never really been a big star, until 2001 when at the age of 69, he was voted Best Actor on Broadway at the prestigious Tony Awards. “The Tony was an extraordinary thing,” says Richard. “I’m not an award winner. I’ve never been an award winner.” Now he is one of the biggest names in New York and plays to sell out audiences.

After Glyn Owen left The Brothers, he went on to star in another Gerard Glaister produced series – Howards’ Way playing Jack Rolfe, owner of the Mermaid Boat Yard for the entire run between 1985 - 1990. Howards’ Way was The Brothers on water really.” he said shortly before his death in 2004, aged 75.

Meanwhile Jennifer Wilson, and her husband actor Brian Peck, gave up their life in the UK and moved to France, staying there for nearly 10 years. Now they are grand-parents and they have returned to the UK to act again.

Hilary Tindall sadly passed away in 1992, aged 54, after a long battle with cancer.

Derek Benfield has continued to pop up in various British drama series over the last 30 years or so, most memorably as Patricia Routledge's husband Robert in Hetty Wainthropp Investigates... He is also a playwright of note, his comedy "Bedside Manners" became a hugely successful stage vehicle for John Inman. He passed away in 2009.

Julia Goodman alias Barbara Kingsley / Trent faced the difficulty of a storyline which involved illigitimacy, still a sensitive subject in the early 1970's. Although Barbara's mother Jennifer was despised my matriach Mary Hammond for having had a long affair with her husband, Mary was careful not to place any blame on Barbara. Much to her mother's fury, Barbara befriended the wife of her father, and the relationship was a reversal in role, for now Jennifer Kingsley was very much against Barbara having contact with Mary. Julia left the show after three series, and now runs her own successful company.

Kate O’Mara’s profile grew and grew following the demise of the Hammond saga in which she played Jane Maxwell. In addition to a starring role in Howards' Way with Glyn Owen, Kate became a big star in America playing Joan Collins’ little sister Caress in Dynasty. Kate formed her own theatre company with her son Dickson performing the classics to audiences throughout the UK. She became famous to a whole new generation having appeared as Joanna Lumley's sister 'Jackie' in cult comedy Absolutely Fabulous. Kate passed away in 2014, two years after the tragic death of her son Dickon.

Colin Baker married his screen co-star Liza Goddard whilst filming The Brothers. He says of the divorce: “I don’t think that being a high profile couple necessarily puts strain on the relationship unless the relationship isn’t right in the first place. We clearly discovered our relationship wasn’t right, that we weren’t right for each other.” Colin is now married to actress Marion Wyatt and they have four daughters.

Liza Goddard continues to be a busy actress on stage and TV. She married and divorced pop star Alvin Stardust in the 1980’s and has had several battles against cancer in the past few years. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 and I had several operations. I had six weeks of radiotherapy and continued working at weekends. I thought it was all over and done with and then in 2000 it returned so then I had to have a mastectomy and reconstruction, and was really quite poorly for a while. I really feel fit again but it is a frightening experience to go through.” Liza was reunited with Colin Baker in a stage tour of She Stoops To Conquer in 2007.

"Regrets, I've had a few...." Doing it their way back in 1976.

Although The Brothers faded from our screens many years ago, it is recognised as one of the BBC's most successful drama series of the 1970's.

Thanks go to the Potteries Prydonians - Steve Worman and Paul Wood - for their help, Ron Brunwin for supplying artwork and Garry Jones for being a regular stalwart of the news section.
Extra special thanks go to the mighty Colin Baker himself for casting his mind back and helping catalogue his career.

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