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The Beaux' Stratagem (1978)

The Beaux' Stratagem

The Beaux' Stratagem, adapted from the play of the same name by George Farquhar, is a one-off comedy.  It was produced by the BBC and first broadcast on Sunday 2 April 1978 (BBC1, 8:05-10:10pm), as part of the Play of the Month strand of programmes.

Although I do not have an image of ZoŽ in the programme, included here is one of her publicity photos from the year after it was broadcast.  With special thanks to ZoŽ for the photo.


The Beaux' Stratagem is a characteristically witty, complicated Restoration comedy.  Shortly before it was broadcast, the play was described by the Radio Times as 'the liveliest and most down-to-earth' example of its genre.  Farquhar's comedy of 1707 explores with humour and intrigue the relationship between marriage and money among the well-to-do.

ZoŽ plays Dorinda, the eccentric Lady Bountiful's attractive, wealthy daughter.  Dorinda is pursued by young Thomas Aimwell, a crafty gentleman from London.  Aimwell and his friend, Francis Archer, have frittered away their money and travelled to sleepy Lichfield with the aim of improving their fortunes by tricking a rich country heiress, such as Dorinda, into marriage.

Events take an unexpected turn when Aimwell falls deeply in love with Dorinda and, as a result, feels compelled to admit to the young woman that he is not all he seems.  As he and Archer discover, the lively, provincial men and women they encounter during their schemes are more than a match for the duo's urbane sophistication and charm.


Thomas Aimwell ... Ian Ogilvy
Francis Archer ... Tom Conti
Lady Bountiful ... Brenda Bruce
Dorinda ... ZoŽ Wanamaker
Squire Sullen ... Malcolm Terris
Mrs Sullen ... Estelle Kohler
Boniface ... David Waller
Foigard ... Norman Rodway
Cherry ... Julie Peasgood
Tapster ... Jay Neill
Scrub ... Tony Haygarth
Gibbet ... Freddie Jones
Hounslow ... Ray Callaghan


Director: David Jones
Producer: James Cellan Jones
Script Editor: Stuart Griffiths
Set Designer: Tony Abbott
Sound Designer: Chick Anthony
Lighting Designer: John Treays
Costume Designer: Janet Tharby


Recalling The Beaux' Stratagem, ZoŽ emphasises that portraying Dorinda gave her the opportunity to work with a number of great actors.

A few years before this programme was broadcast, Zoe appeared in another television adaptation of a Restoration comedy, 'The Confederacy of Wives' (1975).

ZoŽ was seen twice on TV during April 1978, as The Beaux' Stratagem was broadcast a few weeks before an adaptation of a very different play, the drama Danton's Death.

Press coverage

'Zoe Wanamaker's Dorinda was delightful as the lady who wants to be wooed but tries hard not to show it,' commented the Daily Express.


Unfortunately, The Beaux' Stratagem is not available on DVD or in any other format.

Related links

BFI Film & TV Database: The Beaux' Stratagem programme details

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