Monday, April 23, 2007


On this date in 1616, William Shakespeare died in Stratford on Avon. So in tribute, I held off on this last note regarding "The Shakespeare Code", the second episode of 'Doctor Who' this season until today....

It's possible that a copy of Shakespeare's "lost" play, "Love's Labors Won", might have survived the maelstrom that swept the rest of the copies into the vortex which sent the Carrionites back to their distant home dimension. I find it hard to believe that every scrap of paper from that play disappeared. Why not all the rest of the papers that must have been in the Globe theatre at the time? Couldn't one of the actors have left his copy in a trunk or even at home?

In the real world there have been several mentions of this lost play, most notably in a reference by Francis Meres. This may have been found in "Palladis Tamia" which apparently was published later in the same year as when "The Shakespeare Code" took place (1599).

"Witness his Loves Labours Lost, his Loves Labours Wonne."

One reason the Doctor shouldn't have stated so categorically that every copy was lost is because there's always the chance, slim though it may be, that a volume might be uncovered in some bookseller's or somebody's attic which contains the play. And then the Doctor would be shown to be wrong.

Of course, he may already know that it has/will be found, and stated this anyway because he's a known liar.....

Originally when I was going to write this up, I was going to make the claim that it was this play which was discovered in Virginia back in 1970, as seen in an episode of 'The Name Of The Game'. My memory of the episode was vague, with only that one viewing (and I was just a teenager at the time), but it always stuck with me for its connection to real world history.

From what I remembered, a reclusive millionaire in Virginia owned the only copy of a lost play by Shakespeare and didn't want to share it with the world. Apparently he inherited it down through his family tree from a soldier who accompanied "Bonnie Prince Charlie" in his exile to the Virginia colony during the Cromwell years.

Henry "Harry" Worthington Rayner wanted more than anything to see his precious heirloom performed. So he hired a troupe of travelling actors to come to his estate in the mountains and had them act it out for his video cameras to record. But then he fixed their brakes so that their bus crashed on the treacherous mountain roads when they left - leaving no survivors and no witnesses to his possession.

'The Name Of The Game' was the umbrella title for an anthology series that centered around three men in the Howard Publishing empire - the publisher himself (played by Gene Barry), the editor of Crime magazine (Robert Stack), and a reporter for the Toobworld version of People (Tony Franciosa).

But helping them all out was a Gal Friday named Peggy Maxwell, played by Susan St. James. And this episode focused on her for a change, as it was a friend of hers who had perished on that bus with the others.

I would have loved for the chance to declare that the actual play was never named nor described, so that I could then claim that it was the same play from the 'Doctor Who' episode. Unfortunately, there was this little fragment of memory stuck in the back of my noggin that said it was an early, quite different, draft of "Hamlet" which Rayner owned. (I suppose the writer of the episode wanted a recognizable name for the TV audience of the time.)

Doing a little research, it turns out that this may indeed be the case. After all, the name of the episode is "King Of Denmark".

And a Patricia Gallagher posted to a Shakespeare list group back in 1995 about the episode:

Date: Wednesday, 1 Mar 1995 12:23:37 -0600
Subject: "Lost Play" on TV
I believe I know the TV detective show you seek. It was an old (late '60s early '70s) show called 'The Name of the Game'. It was about three men who worked for the same magazine company; two as reporters (each for a different magazine put out by the company), the third was the owner/editor.

The episode in question, I believe featured Joseph Cotton as the discoverer of the lost play. I clearly remember the play being destroyed in the end by the mad housekeeper. However, I believe the play was an early version of "Hamlet".

Other than that, my only recollection was that Susan St. James (a regular on the show) figured heavily in the action. I cannot remember which of the three other regulars was featured.

This pretty much jibes with my memory - especially of the housekeeper destroying all the copies of the play and the videotape in a fire. (And I do remember vividly that Louise Latham, a very good character actress of the time, played the housekeeper. Joseph Cotton played Rayner, as Ms. Gallagher stated.)

So sadly, I can't link "The Shakespeare Code" to "King Of Denmark" for Toobworld except in the most general of terms. Nevertheless, I think it does make for a nice expansion of information regarding the works of Shakespeare as seen on TV.

Sir Toby

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