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Twist in the Tale (1988)

4 episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater, re-titled for their UK network TV premiere; all scripted by Bradbury and based on his stories.

Why The Twist? Return to Ray Bradbury Theater Page

Title sequence for Twist in the Tale.

Why The Twist?

Four episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater were co-produced by British company Granada Television, part of the ITV Network. Bizarrely, having commissioned the co-production of dramatisations of works by a famous author, Granada re-titled the episodes as Twist in the Tale, and removed Bradbury's presence. Steve Hawes, executive producer for Granada offered this explanation:

 

 

[I] persuaded Granada to become involved with the French and Canadian co-producers in Ray Bradbury Theater. [I am disappointed] in the fact that British television has not responded positively to a series which has been successful elsewhere, notably in North America.

But that is the fact of the matter. Granada would happily have continued in the co-production partnership throughout several more series had we been able to persuade our colleagues on ITV that audiences would respond favourably. We didn't, and I have to admit that the audiences didn't either. However the point is that initially, Granada invested very heavily in the series, money, people, time and talent. Some things work, others don't: in retrospect, it has to be admitted that it was not successfully invested.

In the end we are in the hands of people who have to make a judgement about such things [as promotion and scheduling]. ITV are limited in the amount of promotion they can give. Peak-time schedules are extremely competitive and, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, I did not do well in the competition.

But the case is that the ITV committee gave a lot of time and attention to the decision: I know, because I was there. I did not share their views, but I was witness to the fact that these views were very carefully reached.

I don't agree [that production values were disappointing]. The scripts were all written by Bradbury himself, they were shot on location and on film with a cast including Donald Pleasance, Denholm Elliot, Susan Wooldridge, Roy Kinnear and Mary Morris. You don't often do better than that. But the final judgement remains with the viewer.

As for the re-titling [as Twist in the Tale], we wanted to establish that this series was not just another North American import, which the Canadian title sequence and Bradbury's own introduction implied. It was simply a matter of tactics. For all Bradbury's renown among the reading public, he is not known to the majority of British viewers, so we chose a title which gave a flavour of the series rather than the name of the man who wrote it. Obviously we did this in consultation with Bradbury himself and we took care to credit him in other ways.

The theme of this… is that I tried and lost. But having been very closely involved in the project from the very beginning I cannot complain about the support I had from Granada.

 

Tom Cotter produced the four UK-produced episodes for Granada, and directed two of them. He subsequently stuck with Ray Bradbury Theater after Granada left the co-production, and continued to produce the series through to its end in 1992. He explained the co-production arrangement and the involvement of the ITV network:

 

 

Granada were involved in a co-production with Atlantis of Toronto and Ellipse Programme of Paris in the production of twelve Bradbury stories. Each production company made four.

Atlantis had previously made six Bradbury stories.

The ITV network declined to take all the new twelve stories, and I was given to understand that slots on the ITV network would only be found for the four Granada productions.

I was also instructed to change the title to Twist in the Tale. It is on record that I did not think much of this idea... It may be that the earlier six Bradbury films did not have good ratings. As they went out in the watches of the night with no promotion I would not be surprised.

Granada decided that they would not enter into another co-production on Bradbury. Atlantis, however, wanted to do more and asked me to join them as Producer.

 

 

When the broadcast rights to the Ray Bradbury Theater were bought by BSkyB in the early 1990s, several other episodes were shown with the Twist in the Tale title sequence on their Sky One channel.

 

Information sources:
Steve Hawes - private correspondence, 8 September 1989
Tom Cotter - private correspondence, 30 August 1989

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Page updated 8 March, 2019