The Happy Apple

Written by Jack Pulman

Wednesday 28th March to Thursday 31st March 1973

Directed by Peter Corrigan

Nancy, the new secretary at Murray, Maine and Spender has a remarkable talent. An advertisers dream, she is the Miss Average whose opinion is echoed by millions... except that she has cultured interests she wants to pursue.

AuthorJack Pulman

Jack Pulman (1929 - 1979)

Pulman was an award-winning television screenwriter, most famous for the critically-acclaimed 1976 BBC television series, 'I, Claudius', based on the novel of the same name by Robert Graves. Born and raised in London, Pulman was renowned as "adaptor-extraordinary," having written teleplays for such literary works as 'Jane Eyre', 'Crime and Punishment', 'David Copperfield' and 'War and Peace'. He was still writing when Theatre Union's production of his play 'The Happy Apple' was staged. His last screenplay, 'Private Schulz' went into production after his death and his widow collected a posthumous writers award from The Royal Television Society for his work on the show in 1982.

PlayThe Happy Apple

The Happy Apple was originally a play which was later adapted in to a television series after the death of the author, Jack Pulman. Broadcast by Thames Television in 1983, the series ran for 7 episodes and starred Lesley Ash as the 'talented' secretary, Nancy Gray. In the play, Nancy's 'talent' is that she is completely unremarkable. A completely average women, she epitomises the average needs wants and desires of the millions of women at whom the advertising agency Murray, Maine and Spender aim their slogans. The struggling agency soon latches on to the power of her opinion as to whether a product will sell or not, and starts to become a success itself. What happens then when Nancy aspires to more than she is? Studying music and literature soon renders her powers inert and the comic antics of the ad-execs in trying to 're-build' her average-ness are hilarious in their buffonery. Osborne's witty dialogue is also one of the play's strengths.

The Bench Production

The Happy Apple poster image

Bench Theatre's original name was 'Theatre Union' and was later changed to reflect the name of the theatre in West Street where most of their early productions were staged. This play was performed under the original Theatre Union name and staged at The Bench Theatre building in West Street. It was the company's seventh major production at that venue which was their home for nearly 7 years.


Nancy GrayMaureen Smith
George PorterDerek Ream
KenilworthDerek Cusdin
Mr BassingtonDavid Spackman
Charles MurrayRay Osborne
Freddie MaineBrian Montefiore
Arthur SpencerDavid Lings
Miss WheelerNoella Mills


Director Peter Corrigan
Stage Manager Jo Cook
Producer David Lings
Sound and Lighting Peter Orford

Director's Notes

After the production of the modern classic, 'The Entertainer', the company felt like letting their hair down. After all, it is Spring and the March hares are running mad, so with respect to Jack Pulman, we present this play purely for the enjoyment of everybody concerned. We hope that includes you!

Peter Corrigan


Hampshire TelegraphF.W.

Comedy all way makes Havant play a success

No long heart-searching soliloquies, no deep significant messages, just pure comedy and lots of it. Havant's Bench Theatre last week proved yet again how versatile its members are with the modern play, 'The Happy Apple', by Jack Pulman. "We present this play purely for enjoyment", reads the programme and the eight-strong cast were rewarded by bellows of laughter and cheers from the first-night audience for their tremendous characterization.

Master of comedy Ray Osborne was a natural for the part of Charles Murray, the boss of a struggling advertising agency. With witty dialogue, jokes and a superb cast around him Ray Osborne was already set up for the laughs, but by adding his own expressions, mannerisms, and a mimic voice to the part he kept the audience grinning throughout the play.

Murray and his two partners are in trouble. They cannot find a way to sell their products. Left with only three office chairs and one client they discover that Nancy, their blonde but not-so dumb secretary, has a remarkable talent. Nancy beautifully played by Maureen Smith, who cultivated an accent straight from Cockney London for the part, is every manufacturers dream girl. By being a typical Miss Average, she can tell exactly why a product will not sell or what will persuade her counterparts to buy it. But like all dreams, the agency's success is shattered when Nancy starts becoming interested in literature and music and leaves her Miss Average reactions behind.

Dave Lings and Brian Montefiore play Murray's two partners, eager to exploit Nancy's talent and Derek Cusdin plays the intellectual who changes Nancy from "a nobody into an anybody". When the agency boys try to change back Nancy, the actors really score as a team. In complete harmony with one another, they won applause for their comic antics.

The play proves the importance of audience participation. The stage was in the middle of the audience and the actors were visibly encouraged by the warm reactions to their witty interpretations of the individual characters. 'The Happy Apple' directed by Peter Corrigan was staged on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week

Hampshire Telegraph, 5th April 1973 & The News 29th March 1973


Production Photographs