The second of Robert Muller's seven plays for Armchair Theatre, 'Afternoon of a Nymph' (ITV, tx. 30/9/1962) is, for its time, an unusually sharp exposé of the sleazy underbelly of the entertainment industry, where would-be starlets are forced to prostitute themselves for the slim chance of a minor role.
Elaine is an anxious, naïve young actress, with a fragile sense of self. To further her career, she is forced to endure the manipulations and predatory advances of a string of men, including her agent, who tells her, admiringly, "If 50,000 people were to tell you that you had no talent whatsoever, you'd still believe that you'll be the greatest star in the world one day."
But Elaine does have talent, as cynical director David Simpson (Ian Hendry) recognises. He, though, is too consumed by bitterness at the compromises of his own career, reduced to making chocolate ads parodying Romeo and Juliet, despite his intimate knowledge of Shakespeare's play. In the end, David, who briefly seems to offer Elaine hope of escape, rejects her, complaining that her naïve ambition reminds him too much of his younger self, and Elaine resigns herself to an empty future as 'party bait' for minor celebrities.
Although it lacks the cynical bite of, say, Alexander Mackendrick's The Sweet Smell of Success (US, 1957), Muller's script convincingly evokes the sordid shallows of showbiz. As Elaine, Janet Munro is a little too wide-eyed, but Peter Butterworth, Patrick Holt and Aubrey Morris make a suitably gruesome pool of sharks, preying on the desperation of green young women whose ambitions far outweigh their talent.
Hendry and Munro were married in 1963