Article 104

TV Times Gold 1971
Richard gets his teeth into a tasty Danish

1971 Five years earlier, Richard Chamberlain had hung up his stethoscope and waved goodbye to Dr Kildare. It was one of the biggest worldwide TV hits of the Sixties and had made Richard the George Clooney of his day.

But he yearned to be seen as a 'proper actor'. So in 1969 he'd leapt at the chance when Britain's Birmingham Rep invited him to play Hamlet on stage. It was such a success he'd now decided to repeat the role for TV.

In a lavish production aimed at the American market, ITV's Hamlet co-starred Sir Michael Redgrave, Sir John Gieldgud, Richard Johnson, Margaret Leighton, Ciaran Madden, Alan Bennett and Martin Shaw.

TVTimes visited the set, where Richard told us he'd changed his moody prince for TV. 'I have allowed myself to be much more spoilt, more petulant than I was in Birmingham,' he said.

Not that his fellow actors saw any petulance in the man himself. 'He's so sweet,' cooed Ciaran Madden. 'He reminds me of Tigger, you know, in Winnie the Pooh - bouncy.'

The play was directed by Peter Wood. 'The problem of filming it for America is that they reckon on an audience of 32 million over there, and, unbelievably, almost no one has heard of the play,' he said. 'So I've had to simplify it. I've cut 2,000 lines...'

Star-studded and abbreviated, the production triumphed when it was screened. It got a record 13 Emmy nominations, and won five of them.