On this day 16 years ago Foyle’s War premiered.
Journalist Ian Wylie wrote at the time:
You were supposed to see it exactly a year ago – but TV bosses were so impressed with the pilot episode, they decided to make some more.
Foyle’s War is a new drama series starring Michael Kitchen as a wartime detective fighting his own battle against murder, mystery and betrayal.
It’s the result of ITV1’s search for new detective ideas. More than 200 were submitted, but only three made it as far as having pilot episodes filmed.
Executives liked Foyle’s War so much that they cancelled the scheduled screening of the pilot last October and ordered three more two-hour films, set in Hastings and on the south coast.
That pilot – The German Woman – will finally be screened on Sunday amid hopes that Foyle can become as big a hit as Morse and Frost. Having taken his leave of Manchester’s A&E, Michael thinks this new TV detective has great potential.
“I was attached to quite a few projects when Foyle first came to me in its early drafts as The War Detective. Even then, it was very high quality, always going to be a strong contender and no great surprise when it was green lit.”
“I was attached to quite a few projects…” — Sigh. Those were the days, when MK was an “attached” actor.
An exaggerated wink and a heartwarming smile for a grateful little boy, followed by an eye roll for pessimistic Mr. Grimwig in this delightful scene from Oliver Twist. Love how Michael Kitchen approximates his signature knee dip while seated.
Posted on QE is a marvelous behind the scenes interview with Michael Kitchen excerpted from “Oliver Twist: The Official Companion to the ITV Drama Series”. What an absolute treat to read his thoughts on costume drama, wigs, the filming process, and his character, Mr. Brownlow.
Moody continued to perform small comic roles in films and on TV, yet when asked about career highlights, he would mention a serious half-hour program filmed for the BBC in 1970. As the sadistic gym teacher Cracker Carstairs, Moody terrified his pupil Waller, played by the young Michael Kitchen in his onscreen debut, in “Is That Your Body, Boy?”
– Remembering Fagin and Ron Moody, the Man Who Played Him
The role of Waller was certainly a career highlight at the time for Michael Kitchen, who spoke of it in a 1973 interview with TV Times:
“I was fascinated by TV and wanted to know what it was like. Ron Moody was in the first play I did. My parents really liked Ron Moody and so they thought I had made it when I was in a play with him. It finally made them think acting was not such a bad idea after all.”
A testimonial from Michael Kitchen for The Wireless Theatre Company:
A British Vogue piece that’s familiar from the Michael Kitchen site, but this particular copy was curiously included in a 2012 Bulletin of The British European Association of Denmark. Evidently, an old article on MK is relevant to the campaign for the rights of Britons abroad…
I think MK revealed more about himself and his approach to acting in this brief interview than in the entire 40 years since.
Based on his outfit, I’m guessing the photo was taken on the set of Sleepwalker.
Michael Kitchen attended the Kinks Musical, Sunny Afternoon, where he was recognized by a very lucky fan sitting in front of him:
The Harold Pinter Theatre where Sunny Afternoon is playing is described in this fascinating NY Times article, “Lost in the Magic of London’s Theatres”.
From the Coventry Evening Telegraph, April 14, 2007:
The series is shown in America with an eminent historian explaining the setting at the start of each episode.
Michael says: “I think it’s a great shame something similar doesn’t happen when the series is screened in the UK. It undeniably adds another level and depth to the programme.”
He has worked closely with creator Anthony Horowitz to develop the character of the charismatic detective chief superintendent and his investigative style.
“Although Foyle is a policeman, one of the biggest things we worked on was to try to find a way of avoiding the orthodox question-and-answer route and find instead an alternative way of releasing whatever is necessary to the audience.
“Foyle is the result of Anthony’s original scripts and whatever I bring to them by adding, rearranging or taking out – both of us conclude perhaps that less is more.”
My top 20 Michael Kitchen roles:
1. Greg Brentwood in Alibi (2003)
Simply love every minute of this film.
From an interview with Sophie Okonedo:
Okonedo says: “It was really good to work on and I particularly enjoyed working with Michael Kitchen – I’ve always thought he was brilliant.”
They are such an odd couple – I don’t think many people would have thought about casting Michael and I together. “They obviously thought we would be so opposite that it would be interesting and something rather rare on television.”
“It is not a comedy and it is not a straightforward thriller. I suppose it is an idiosyncratic take on a thriller about two very odd people who would not normally meet or have anything to do with each other.” Michael Kitchen describes Alibi as “perhaps a thriller”, but admits to enjoying the comic aspects of the story. He adds: “Paul Abbott is up there with the very best screen writers around, of which there are precious few.”
Where has kitchen traveled in the last years?
No idea. I’ve always wondered if he has visited the US since he appeared on Broadway in No Man’s Land.
pdx144 said: He mentioned going to Corfu in Greece in an interview.
In this 2003 publicity release:
He says: “The first part of the year was very heavy for me; it involved making Alibi before starting this last Foyle’s War series, so after a trip to Corfu I’ve taken on as little as possible to catch up with everything that’s accumulated while my back has been turned. Voiceover stuff, including more Faking It, is as much as I’ve done and I’ve managed to say no to everything else.”
Add sailing to Michael Kitchen’s hobbies. His yacht is moored in Poole Marina. A member of this football forum actually saw MK “at the self-service checkout of B&Q in Poole”. Thank you to dancesabove for sharing this splendid interview from 2008 with accompanying photo of MK and his son, Jack.
Michael Kitchen actually submitted to an interview!!!
In an email exchange, Kitchen discussed breaking a vow, his career and the symbol of respect for war’s casualties that he keeps close.
One of the “long-term offers” MK turned down was the TV series Shoestring which aired in 1979-80. The screenwriter, Robert Banks Stewart, approached him about playing the lead, but he declined saying he wanted to stick to single plays and films.
Barrister and soon-to-be judge Steven Vey is too charming for his own good.
My initial response to this gifset was a sharp intake of breath at the utter gorgeousness of Michael. But as I kept looking I could see the subtle signs of menace, by the last frame as MK looks Caroline Catz up and down I was quite discomfited. I went from desire to repulsion (if I use that word WRT to MK I remind myself he is acting) in a matter of seconds. That is a reflection on MK’s broad spectrum of acting skills.
I know – that last gif has distinct echoes of Roman in Chancer, a role he did so well that the writers of The Guilty wrote the part of Steven Vey just for him, according to this article. But at this point in the story, I wonder if he had seduction in mind. When he arrives at her flat later, he does, after all, initially decline her invitation to join her for coffee inside.
I can’t help but think that if only our dear DCS Foyle had been around, that nasty Mr. Vey would certainly have gotten what he deserved.
The MK fan in me is kind of glad his character got away with it.
How old are MK’s sons?
According to this TV Times article, MK’s older son, Jack, was born in October 1988, so he is 24 now. His other son, Jamie, was born in November 1995, making him 17. Both are mentioned in the following quote reflecting MK’s dry wit:
“Fitted is now in his GCSE year, and Farmhouse is currently in second-year prep.” – Radio Times, Oct. 2004
For the longest time I didn’t get the fitted kitchen joke. I live in Wisconsin, where farms that have been around for 100 years get a plack from the governor. When houses always come with “fitted” kitchens we don’t need a special word for them.
You’re not the only one. I didn’t get it until I saw the quote referenced on the tv.com site. (Incidentally, your state rep and former VP nominee was sitting a few rows in front of me on the plane earlier this week. Unfortunately, not the brush with fame I dream of… )
According to this Sunday Mail (Mar. 6, 2005) article on Falling, Michael Kitchen joked about his role:
It’s probably goodbye to the fan base – I can’t see either of them approving of this.
Writing this as a member of his considerably greater than two person fan base, I not only approve, but tidbits like these really make me wish we had access to more of MK’s witty, self-deprecating sense of humor.
For The Brontës of Haworth (1973), Michael Kitchen took on the difficult portrayal of Branwell Brontë, the only brother of the famous literary sisters. Tormented by weakness, guilt, the pressure to succeed, and an ill-fated love affair, Branwell battled substance addiction and died a broken man at only age 31. (Playing this role, MK may have felt tormented by having to wear too many layers on a hot set, as there are beads of sweat on his upper lip in several scenes.) The Oct. 21, 1973 issue of Radio Times featured a fantastic rare and insightful interview with MK when the Brontës mini-series first aired: