A Private Matter (1974)

A Cambridge historian wants to write the biography of a distinguished deceased general. However, he finds the general's widow and two sons are cagey and conflicted about a secret scandal that led to the General's leaving the army.


Roger Tucker


Ronald Mavor


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Credited cast:
Ian Charleson ... Anthony Black-Mathieson
Barry Justice ... Christopher Black-Mathieson
Rachel Kempson ... Lady Anne Black-Mathieson
Stephen Murray ... Mervyn Dakyns


Mervyn, an academic, wants to write the biography of General Black-Matheson and has come to talk to his widow and two sons. However, apparently there was some scandal in the War and the General was temporarily sent to a mental institution and the family have quietly lived with the disgrace ever since. The scandal is never spoken of -- but it seems that they all know some of what happened. Christopher, the oldest son, is against the biography being written and Anne, the wife, is now also against the book being done. Mervyn reveals that he knows the secret and Anthony, the younger son, discusses his father's faux pas: Towards the end of the Second World War the General was ordered to appear in a parade in honor of the founding of the battalion, but after all the fighting and deaths of troops on both sides he apparently felt that it was totally wrong to have a parade. On the day of the parade he tried to go to the parade ground naked. Anne tells how she has tried to live with the ... Written by William Brighenti and angelofvic

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Official Sites:

ITN Source [United Kingdom]





Release Date:

25 August 1974 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Granada Television See more »
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User Reviews

A young Ian Charleson and three screen veterans in a drawing-room drama.
31 August 2010 | by angelofvicSee all my reviews

Ian Charleson tackles his first major screen/television role in this intriguing drama set in the home of a deceased general's family.

A Cambridge don (Stephen Murray) decides that the subject of his third biography volume will be the deceased General Black-Mathieson. This raises the suspicions of the old guard -- namely, the general's widow (Rachel Kempson, matriarch of the Redgrave dynasty) and eldest son (Barry Justice) -- and they try to close ranks against him. However, the young and liberated son Anthony (Ian Charleson) has a different take on the matter, and sees the prospective interviews and biography as a way of airing out old and fossilized secrets and lies.

Bucking the system in true 1970s anti-establishment fashion, Anthony's crude but honest approach brings matters to a head, and brings to light things which even he had not anticipated.

This 60-minute drama is a pleasure to watch -- well-filmed, well-written, and well-acted -- with characters that epitomize old systems and new, and family dynamics and secrets, in a timeless fashion.

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