TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED

Category: Acting, Television

TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED: BLUE MARIGOLD

Role: Marigold
Director: Giles Foster
Production: British television series by Anglia
Broadcast: April 1982


Toyah starred as the lead role in the 1982 episode of Tales Of The Unexpected titled Blue Marigold.

Blue Marigold starts in ‘London 1969’ where model Marigold (Toyah Willcox) fronts a number of adverts for the Blue Marigold range of perfume, having only appeared in printed media like posters she gets the opportunity to make a TV commercial. Things seemingly go well until Marigold sees the finished advert & is horrified to discover her ungainly cockney accent has been dubbed over by someone else named Sophie (Sharon Duce), in a reversal of fortune Sophie gets loads of work as a voice over artist while Marigold is dropped by the people at Blue Marigold. Jump forward to ‘1981’ where marigold has no money, no career, no boyfriend & has attempted to kill herself, however she meets Sophie again by chance who is now engaged to her old rich boyfriend Paul (the late Ralph Bates) & Marigold senses the opportunity to get some revenge & sort her own problems out…

ITV ARCHIVETales Of The Unexpected was launched in 1979 and subsequently sold to more than 70 countries, topped anything Anglia had ever done before in popular drama. The £1.5 million initial contract to produce a collection of twist-in-the-tail stories by master of the macabre Roald Dahl resulted from a chance meeting between the author and Sir John Woolf, the distinguished British film producer and Anglia’s drama supremo, at a Christmas party in 1976. Film and television producers had been falling over themselves for years to get rights to Dahl’s stories without success.

So Sir John grasped the opportunity to land the production rights after Dahl casually asked him: “How would you like to make a television series of my stories?” The 25 Dahl stories adapted for television were selected from two of the writer’s collections – Kiss, Kiss and Someone Like You – and were a mixture of suspense, horror and black comedy. Originally it was intended to have Peter Ustinov presenting some of the stories, but in the event Dahl himself introduced each episode, sitting in front of a blazing fire in his drawing room… in reality a specially designed set in a studio at Anglia House.

The first post-Dahl series still had a very British feel, however, with Denis Quilley, Simon Cadell, Suzanne Danielle and Sean Barrett cast as an airline crew in “Hijack” and pop star Toyah Willcox starring with Ralph Bates in “Blue Marigold”. It was quite a departure for the then 23-year-old High Priestess of Punk, who played a successful model who ruined her career with drink, greed and jealousy. Toyah declared she was heeding the warning of her character. “I recognise this is a dangerous business and I have no plans to fail in it,” she told the Daily Express. She has remained true to her word.

Notably the episode was written by Aileen Wheeler and not based on an original story or script by Dahl. Instead the story won a competition in UK television listings magazine TV Times which attracted 11,000 entries. The 56-year old from Kent visited the set whilst the episode was being made. The episode was shot in early 1981 before Toyah had secured her run of top 10 singles that year and became a household name. The episode itself which kicked off series 5 of the popular Tales Of The Unexpected television series was not broadcast however until Sunday 25 April 1982.

The perfume bottle used in the episode as the Blue Marigold fragrance which Toyah’s character shoots a television commercial for is actually a real perfume bottle for Charmade by Guerlain. The high-end fragrance is still sold today and as it was obviously on sale at time of the original broadcast a disclaimer was made by a television continuity announcer at the end of the programme as the credits rolled distancing Guerlain from the episode. “Blue Marigold perfume is of course entirely fictitious.  The bottle shown in this film was was originally created by House of Guerlain for its perfume Charmade. Guerlain is totally unconnected to the imaginary events in this film.”