I remember this series from the 70s and watched it again recently. The only reason I watched it when I was young was because I watched everything with Simon Gipps- Kent in it. He isn’t the star, we see the story through the eyes of Penelope who is played by Sophie Thompson, but his character is a significant part of the plot so I tuned in each week.
The series from 1978 is about a girl who travels from her home in London to stay with her Aunt and Uncle on their Derbyshire farm. While there, she finds herself travelling back in time to the Tudor times where the resident family are supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots. Elizabeth is the Queen and Penelope knows her history sufficiently well to know that the family’s plans to rescue the Catholic Queen do not end well.
Simon Gipps- Kent played Francis, a loyal supporter of Mary, who develops an interest in Penelope. He is believing of her when she says she comes from the future. Interestingly, he fails to question her about the fate of the Queen he supports.
Looking at the series now, after 37 years, I was struck by how long the director lingered over scenes that added little to the story. In modern productions, the cuts between scenes would be more frequent and the action at a faster pace. This is not always a good thing but there is no doubt that this production would have benefited from a faster pace at times.
Simon Gipps- Kent died at an early age so the promise shown in so many of the television series of the 70s was not realised. He sports a perm in this role which was partly to give a Tudor look but also because the late 70s was the time of the male perm.