Production Overview: 1.The Four Icons / 2.A New Man / 3.The End of the Festival / 4.Twenty-Four Steps / 5.Arrival / 6.Stand Up And Vote / 7.From Boneyards To Courting Pits / 8.Normal Service / 9.Homes Fit For Cathy / 10.Sleeping Dogs / 11.Last Orders / 12.Casualties of War
Episode Guide: Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4 / Season 5 /
Season 6 / Season 7 / Season 8 / Season 9

The Wednesday Play Special
Season nine was produced by Irene Shubik (episodes 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 15, 19 & 28), Pharic Maclaren (episodes 2 & 20), Graeme MacDonald (episodes 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 21, 27 & 30), Anne Head (episode 13), Ronald Tracers (episodes 14 & 22), Harry Moore (episode 23), Michael bakewell (episodes 29 & 32) and the combined effort of Gerald Savoury and David Koning (episode 18).
The Parachute
Transmitted : 6th August 1969
Script : David Mercer
Director : Anthony Page
Producer : Tony Garnett

Publicity : Parachutist For The Nazis - Director Anthony Page writes about a play that looks at pre-war Germany through one aristocrat's eyes: When I first read the script of The Parachute I loved the ambition and richness of imagination David Mercer showed in it. Sometimes the script had the quality of a sprawling family novel, sometimes that of a tight, harsh Warner Brothers thriller, and sometimes it would plunge into the romantic and sinister flow of the hero's dreams.

It explores a recent and terrible area of history - the emergence of Nazism in Germany - through the story of an aristocrat, Werner Reger, who becomes a parachutist for the Nazis. We follow him through a day of parachute training in the last war - a day that reaches its climax when he climbs the parachute tower for a test jump. During the last day Werner remembers, with an ironic watchfulness, the people in a pattern of events leading from the protected haven of his childhood to the turning point which challenged his romanticism and weakness.

His sentimental mother, the victim of his mocking, brilliant father; his cousin Anna's fierce demands on him; the family retainer Helmut, turning from nurse to informer; Schacht, the homosexual commandant of the new concentration camp; Holz, the cynical Gestapo lawyer, seeking to trap the family. Werner also remembers dreams which sprang from his terror at what was happening in pre-war Germany, and from his inability to break with the world of his childhood. Working on The Parachute was very exciting for me, not only because I had a cast who brilliantly understood their characters, but also because I had a producer who made it possible to photograph the widely varied images and locations of David Mercer's powerful legend. (Radio Times, July 31, 1969 - Article by Anthony Page).


Synopsis :
Werner Reger, a young German officer in the Second World War, prepares to test a new parachute with his regiment for the ultimate benefit of the Fuhrer. As he moves through the early-morning routine in the barracks and out of the tower for a jump, his mind travels in a series of flashbacks over the curious conflicts of his childhood and youth.

Cast :
Alan Badel (Father), Jill Bennett (Anna), John Osborne (Werner), Isabel Dean (Mother), Esmond Knight (Helmut), Drewe Henley (Klaus), Barry Jackson (Koepfer), Frank Barry (Werner As A Boy), Norman Jones (The Sergeant), Desmond Perry (The Officer), Marc Karlin (Anna's Boy), Lionel Hamilton (Schacht), Molly Hewitt (Frau Schacht), Leslie Notes (The Waiter), Lindsay Anderson (Holz), Barry Dupres, Royston Farrell, Sylvester Morand, Victor Munt, David Christie Murray and Stephen Whittaker (The Paratroops).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:15pm to 10:30pm.

Fencing for this episode was supervised by John Greenwood. Film Cameraman for this episode was Tony Imi, Film Editor was Roy Watts, Sound Recordist was Geoff Tookey.

This episode enjoyed a repeat transmission, having previously been broadcast as part of the Play Of The Month series on January 21st, 1968.

The Wednesday Play Season Nine
The Last Train Through The Harecastle Tunnel
Transmitted : 1st October 1969
Script : Peter Terson
Director : Alan Clarke

Publicity : Peter Terson has written a new play for television: The Last Train Through The Harecastle Tunnel - it is this week's Wednesday Play. Terson is an energetic, friendly, laughing man of thirty-seven whose manner discourages serious questions about his art; his attitude to his considerable success in the theatre, with plays like Zigger Zagger and The Apprentices, is one of amusement and disbelief. At the same time, you feel, he is himself intensely serious about what he does.

He lives in Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast, with his wife and three children. I met him recently when he was in London, to see the production of Macbeth at the Round House and his own new play, Fuzz. He was wearing a blue shirt to match his very blue eyes, sharp grey trousers and a red sweater. He has dark curly hair, uneven teeth and a strong North Country voice. He did not seem over-confident about the new television play. "None of my stuff really works on television. I'm not much of an optimist," he said, sounding quite cheerful nevertheless. "But anyway, I very rarely like anything I've done. I can't think of anything I've really liked. Oh well, yes, perhaps Zigger. But I always get a battering in the theatre". For a long time he was the resident playwright at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent; the director there, Peter Cheeseman, worked on his early plays with him.

In 1966 he was given an Arts Council grant to help him concentrate on writing plays; before that he had been a games teacher, and occasionally taken odd jobs like hoeing sugar-beet or picking strawberries. He had his first London production, The Mighty Reservoy, in 1967; since then he has been hailed by the critics as a writer in touch with basic realities, a champion of man and nature against the forces of chilly urban sophistication. He started writing plays seventeen years ago, after attempting novels and short stories. "One day I realised that it's all the little things in between the dialogue that are difficult - what he thought, and the autumn sunlight glinting through the trees, and so on. All the same, you know, I still can't write a play. It's my little weakness - don't tell a soul - I can't write a play," he said, laughing uproariously.


The new Wednesday Play is about a man obsessed with railways who goes on the last journey of a particular train and has a series of strange encounters. "When I was at Stoke I did some research for a railway play and got interested in railway folk. Their passion was so complete it made the rest of us seem trivial". There really was a Harecastle Tunnel and Terson really did go on the last train to go through it. "People had stayed up till midnight just to be on that train. I felt like a king". He doesn't visit London very often; he doesn't like it much. "You ought to see me at home really," he said. "I'm all the excited kid in London," turning his head eagerly from side to side, his eyes wide. He has written a trilogy of plays for television about Whitby, a place he loves. "It's wild up there, and the people are really great". He spent part of last year touring with the Western Theatre Ballet company, as background for another television play that he is working on, based on Nijinsky's diaries. But he feels he has done enough writing for the moment. "I'm looking for a job," he said, laughing some more. "If anyone would take me, I'd be there. Labouring, anything. Writing is so painful". But he hates not writing as well. His plans? "I'm facing the long, hard winter at Whitby with everyone working but me". Looking Forward …: Through the autumn, The Wednesday Play series includes several plays by well-known authors.

Coming up soon: Patterson O.K, a play by a Welshman, Ray Jenkins, about young toughs in Glasgow, with an all-Scots cast. Later, a new play by William Trevor, The Mark-Two Wife, is the strange episode of a middle-aged woman who turns up uninvited at a party. Also scheduled: Alan Plater's stage hit, Close The Coalhouse Door, a musical drama about the miners of South West Durham; The Sad Decline Of Arthur Maybury, by John Gorrie, with Roland Culver as Maybury, a schoolmaster out of a job because he drinks; All Out For Kangaroo Valley, an all-Australian play by Noel Robinson, about a young Australian couple in London. Later Wednesday Plays will include Happy, by Alan Gosling, with Malcolm Macdowell, the star of If…as a boy on a Suffolk farm, Marty Feldman in Double Bill, by Johnnie Speight, and a revival of The Vortex, Noel Coward's first successful play, about a young drug addict, with Margaret Leighton as his mother.

Thirty-Minute Theatre starts again on Sunday with Gangster, by Robin Smyth, a look at the kind of young criminal emerging today. The emphasis in the new series will be on plays by new authors with new directors. Later in the season you will be able to see six plays featuring Nigel Green as Inspector Waugh. (Radio Times, September 25, 1969 - Article by Anne Chisholm).


Synopsis :
In the first in the new season of Wednesday Plays a young train-spotter spends a long weekend taking a historic trip on the last train through Harecastle Tunnel. On his journey he meets a great variety of people, all with their own reasons for being on the train. Author Peter Terson is best known for his work with the National Youth Theatre with plays like Zigger Zagger, The Apprentices, and Fuzz.

Cast :
Richard O'Callaghan (Fowler), John Le Mesurier (Judge Grayson), Paul Brooke (Farquhar), Iain Reid (Smith), Robert Hartley (McCullow), John Owens (The Corporal), Bill Lyons (Truculent), Laurie Asprey (Brian), John Gray (Blondie), Jonathan Burn (The Second Lieutenant Florence), Noel Dyson (Mrs Dyson), Claire Davenport (Megs), Victor Platt (Mr Dyson), Joe Gladwin (Adam Coulson), Griffith Davis (Jackie Coulson), John Scott Martin (The Ticket Man), Angela Pleasence (Beatrice Grayson), Shelagh Fraser (Mrs Grayson), Anthony Kelly (The Gardener), Eileen Way (Mrs Phillips) and Toke Townley (Mr Phillips).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty-minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Lighting for this episode was supervised by Peter Catlett.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on September 2nd, 1970 and is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Patterson O.K.
Transmitted : 8th October 1969
Script : Ray Jenkins
Director :
Pharic Maclaren

Publicity :
Where The Young Grow Up Quickly - Pharic Maclaren, who produced this week's Wednesday Play - a drama set in Glasgow - talks to Fred Jones: Patterson OK is about the problems of growing up in an unfriendly environment in a big city - in this case it's Glasgow. So inevitably there are some tough characters in it. Spooner is a good example. Still not much more than a lad - but a hard man. The play was written by an Oxford-born Welshman, Ray Jenkins. But in every other way it's very much a Scottish production.

It has an all-Scottish cast and was filmed and recorded in Glasgow - some of it in the BBC's Glasgow studio, but much of it on location in the city. And it's the work of Pharic Maclaren, Scotland's best-known producer of television drama. He directed Scobie In September, The Lower Largo Sequence (also a Wednesday Play), The End Of The Game, and the six-part serial The Prior Commitment. "I think the play does try to look honestly at its central problem," says Maclaren. "It's a much more realistic subject than some I have handled, and we have tried to use more realistic settings. More than two-thirds of it was shot on locations all over Glasgow". For a man who has had to work from a wheel-chair since he had about a year off with polio in 1962-1963, Pharic Maclaren is extraordinarily mobile. "It's surprising what you can do with the help of a crew who accept it now completely," he says. "They take you with the gear. I've been up mountains, on trains and ships - everywhere. But sometimes they have to use rather devious means to get me there".

When he looks back over his programmes, Maclaren remembers that he specially enjoyed making The Lower Largo Sequence and the thriller serials. "They were written with style; this offered opportunities to the director, and we tried to parallel the style. In television the word is still very important". Maclaren thinks hard when you ask about influences, but he doesn't come up with much. His own working life has taken him from films (educational and advertising), and from working as a stringer for newsreels and writing for radio - all this in Glasgow in the 1950s - to television studio management and the production and direction of children's drama for the BBC in London. Programmes to come? "We're doing a Scottish classic, Sunset Song, in five episodes and another six-part thriller serial, The Upper Cae Of Magna Flett. That's set in Scotland too". (Radio Times, October 2, 1969 - Article by Fred Jones).


Synopsis :
A story about growing up, settiling old scores, falling in love and the effect of surroundings on behaviour. Patterson O.K is set in Glasgow where producer Pharic Maclaren makes the same dramatic use of his surroundings as he did in Edinburgh for Scobie In September and on the Isle of Arran for The Prior Commitment. About the only non-Scottish element in the production is the author, Welshman Ray Jenkins.

Cast :
Andrew Robertson (Kenny Patterson), Roddy McMillan (Willie Patterson), Callum Mill (John Murdoch), Virginia Stark (Connie Murdoch), Bill Henderson (Baker), Paul Young (Laurie Kyle), Robin Lefevre (The Policeman), Eileen McCallum (Elizabeth Dowie), Douglas Murchie (Andy Gemmell), Stuart Mungall (Spooner), James Grant (Dye) and Arthur Boland (The Barman).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of fifty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:00pm.

This episode was recorded in the studios of BBC Scotland.

The Mark Two Wife
Transmitted : 15th October 1969
Script : William Trevor
Director : Philip Saville

Synopsis : A mysterious, uninvited guest at a fashionable party gradually involves the other guests in her personal tragedy. Novelist and short-story writer William Trevor has again written a play with a really strong leading role for an actress. His last Wednesday Play, A Night With Mrs Da Tanka, was specially praised for Jeant Kent's performance. Tonight it's Faith Brook's turn in the role of the mysterioius Anna.

Cast :
Faith Brook (Anna Mackintosh), Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies (Mrs Ritchie), Lillias Walker (Mrs Badanski), Roland Cyrram (Toby Oath), Maggie McGrath (Mrs Engelfield), Henry Gilbert (Mr Engelfield), Philip Madoc (Badanski), David Hutcheson (General Ritchie), Alathea Charlton (Dolorea Sweeting), Roger Hammond (Brian Sweeting), David Toohey (The Japanese Waiter) and Joanna Lumley (Elsie Engelfield).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy minutes and was transmitted from 9:15pm to 10:25pm.

Lighting for this episode was supervised by Jim Richards.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on September 16th, 1970 and is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Close The Coalhouse Door
Transmitted : 22nd October 1969
Script : Alan Plater from a story by Sid Chaplin
Director : Bill Hays

Publicity : Writing With Serious Intent - Alan Plater used to want to be James Thurber really. But here he talks to Anne Chisholm about Durham miners, Softly, Softly, and Wide Sargasso Sea: The Wednesday Play thyis week is Close The Coalhouse Door, the musical documentary about Durham miners by Alan Plater.

Commissioned jointly by the BBC and the Newcastle Playhouse, it played to pakced houses in the north before transferring to London in November 1968. The television version is almost exactly the same as the stage original. "I sat down to write a television adaptation," says Plater, "and found myself thinking - what the hell - why not do it as it is? It'll be interesting to find out if it works. It could open out all kinds of possibilities". The basis of the play is the golden wedding party of a Durham mining couple. The history of the community is looked at in flashbacks, which merge skillfully into the mainstream of ther action.

Alan Plater was able to draw on his considerable experience as a writer for radio, television, and the theatre in order to do this; He is friendly, serious about his work without being ponderous, and interested in experiment. Afed thirty-four, he was born in Jarrow, but has lived in Hull since he was a child. He has a big Victorian redbrick house in a pleasant, leafy street near the centre of the city, where he lives with his wife and three young children. His study is a large front room, with a huge desk and shelves full of efficient looking box files. He is a well-organised writer. "It can become an affectation, being disorganised. It's a bit silly. I like to meet deadlines: I get very bothered if I don't". He studied architecture at Newcastle University, but soon found it didn't suit him. "I started writing with serious intent when I was about fifteen. I think I wanted to be James Thurber, really".

There were some Turber short stories in the shelf behind him. He started writing plays for radio through the BBC regional drama section in Leeds, and regrets the narrowing-down of local opportunities. "I just wonder about some kid who may be starting now". He became a regular writer for the top Northern police series, Z Cars and Softly, Softly. Apart from stage plays and television scripts, he has written a screenplay for a film that has just been made - from D H Lawrence's short novel The Virgin And The Gypsy. He is just starting on another screenplay, from Jean Rhys' brilliant, subtle book Wide Sargasso Sea, the story of Mr Rochester's mad West Indian wife in Jane Eyre. He is also very involved in plans for the new Hull Arts Centre, which he has been helping to organise for the past two years, and is working on a play for the new theatre company there. "I like doing a lot," he said. "I like working. People seem to think that anyone who writes a lot for television is automatically a hack". Not surprisingly, he sounded mildly indignant at that opinion. (Radio Times, October 16, 1969 - Article by Anne Chisholm).


Cast :
Dudley Foster (The Expert), Alan Browning (John Milburn), Colin Douglas (Thomas Milburn), Bryan Pringle (Geordie), John Woodvine (Jackie), Geraldine Moffatt (Ruth), Brenda Peters (Mary Anne Milburn), Ralph Watson (Frank Milburn), Kevin Stoney (Will Jobling), Robin Parkinson (The Vicar), Jean Becke (Jean), James Garbutt (Hughie), Colin Hale (The Policeman), James Gavigan and Patrick Lewsley (The Pitmen), Augusta Walker and Jean Stirling (The Pitmen's Wives).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Songs featured in this episode were by Alex Glasgow. Musical Director was William Southgate. Original Stage Design was supervised by Brian Currah. Script Editor for this episode was Shaun MacLaughlin.

Close The Coalhouse Door was unexpectedly delayed during the production process, resulting in its eventual withdrawal from the schedules for the eighth season of The Wednesday Play, and its eventual relocation to appear in the schedules for the ninth and final season of the programme.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on September 23rd, 1970.

The Sad Decline Of Arthur Maybury
Transmitted : 29th October 1969
Script : John Gorrie
Director : John Gorrie

Publicity : For Roland Culver, playing the part of a drunken old failure was something of a relief. He's sixty-nine now and in the theatre and on films and television nearly all the parts he's offered are "colonels or generals or admirals and it's driving me mad. I'm offered these people to play and I have to do it because they don't offer me anything else. Anybody less likely to be a colonel or an admiral or a general I just can't imagine". He has a touch of the military about him none the less. Although he's courteous and helpful and hospitable he can be a little gruff at times. He's certainly not the kind of man you'd want to take liberties with. And it's hard for one to imagine him not getting his own way. This Services thing all goes back to Commander Rogers in French Without Tears.

Commander Rogers made Roland Culver's name and even though that was back in 1939 he still can't live it down. "I'm an actor and I can play any part that anybody asks me to play. But at the moment I've just played a colonel up in Manchester and the BBGC has asked me to play a general. I'll probably end up in heaven with pips all over me". The Sad Decline Of Arthur Maybury is about a schoolmaster who goes to the dogs. It was written and directed by John Gorrie. "No similar experience has ever happened to me I don't think, no, and I've certainly never taken to the bottle as a result of my miseries. Obviously I've had my disappointments, but in my old age you can't compare my disappointments to that old man. He obviously wasn't very good anyway, ever, and I always think I've been very good always. He thought so, too - but he was wrong and I'm right, that's the difference".

Roland Culver lives in a very desirable modernised cottage with two cars in the garage near Henley-on-Thames. Despite being only forty miles from London it's beautifully rural, so much so that in the hard winter of 1963 the entire village was snowed up. The farmers had to get people out by tractor and a snow plough once ploughed right into a snowdrift and right through the middle of a car, cutting it clean in two. Arthr Maybury was hard work. "I had a devil of a lot of words to say. But it was an interesting part. He's a very good director, John Gorrie. I don't know how many plays he's written but if this was his first or second effort it was a jolly good effort you know. I'm interested in playing any part if it's well written and I think this is". It's especially hard for Roland Culver to find a theatre play worth doing. "Look at all the people of my age, they're nearly all doing revivals. Very few are doing original plays nowadays. Acting in the theatre is the best thing you can do because you can get one-hundred percent. Even on films you don't necessarily get one-hundred percent because you are in the hands of a cutting machine. A big scene of mine recently ended up on the cutting-room floor. I'm pretty old now you see and one isn't the star that one was". (Radio Times, October 23, 1969 - Article by Gus Marlbehart).


Cast :
Roland Culver (Arthur Maybury), Lally Bowers (Mrs Scott), Valerie White (Mrs Perry), John Ringham (The Schoolmaster), Barbara Atkinson (Miss Price), Matthew Robertson (Mr Russell), John Savident (Mr Brummitt), Kit Taylor (The Barman), Sheila Grant (Berryl Forbes), Robert Gillespie (Pickthorn), Jill Brooke, Janie Booth and Joan Hart (The Radio Women), Mirabelle Thomas (The Secretary), Jane Carr (June), Heather Canning (Mrs Carstairs), Richard Aylen (Mike), Harry Littlewood (Dave), Sylvia Coleridge (Paula), Patty Thorne (Jane), Wesley Murphy (Roy), Angela Galbraith (The First Woman Inb The Pub), Petronella Ford (The Second Woman In The Pub), Robert Wilde (The Second Man In The Pub), Paul Greenhalgh (The Shop Assistant), Michael Beint (The Town Hall Attendant), Jeffrey Segal (Mr Dumpton), Paul Farrell (The Council Employee), Peter Stenson (The First Man), Jeremy Child (The Second Man) and Maurice Hedley (The Elderly Gentleman).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Lighting for this episode was supervised by Dennis Channon.


All Out For Kangaroo Valley
Transmitted : 5th November 1969
Script : Noel Robinson
Director : Bill Bain
Synopsis : Two young Australians on holiday in London find that the "old country" is as full of personal problems as of tourist spots. This is the second Wednesday Play to take a look at England through the eyes of outsiders - the first was The Exiles by West Indian Errol John. All Out For Kangaroo Valley was written and directed by Australians and has an all-Australian cast.

Cast :
Sandra Gleeson (Jan), Mark Edwards (Robert), Jennifer Young (The Courier), Kerry Francis (Nev), Vivienne Lincoln (Carol), David Gilchrist (Jim), Warwick Sims (Colin), Betty McDowall (Liz), Peter Arne (Peter Steiner), Joanne Dainton (Emma Steiner), Jasmine Greenfield, Beatrice Aston and Helen Harper (The Girls In The Pub), Eileen Way (The Woman In The Pub), Bill Riley, Peter Collier and Francis Phillips (The Men In The Pub), Brian Harrison (Joe), John Knightley (The First Man At The Party) and Donald Pickering (The Second Man At The Party).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:20pm.

Music for this episode was provided by Dudley Simpson.

The broadcast of this episode coincided with an increase in the cost of the Radio Times, cited as "From 30 October 1969 the price of Radio Times will be 9d, an increase of 1d a week. The price has been held at 8d since September 1967, although, soon after, publishing costs rose steeply as a result of devaluation of the Pound, and have continued to rise since. Further increases in costs are taking place and the rise in price can no longer be avoided".

Happy
Transmitted : 12th November 1969
Script : Alan Gosling
Director : Marc Miller

Publicity : The New Steve McQueen Is Still The Quite New Malcolm McDowell - Malcolm McDowell, the star of If … is in the BBC Television play Happy. Timeri Murari found out that: Malcolm McDowell is on the telephone, listening with a worried frown as the person at the other end tells him what is wrong with his new sports car. "You should've opened the black knob," the voice says. "What black knob?" Malcolm asks. "I never saw a black knob". "It's a lovely car," he says, when he's put the telephone down, "but life gets complicated once you become successful. You have to have accountants to look after the money, and lawyers, and taxes. I don't know whether I have any money or not. In the old days I just went to the bank and knew exactly how much I had". The old days for Malcolm McDowell were those five years before the fantastic success of If…

In those days he lived in a six-pound-a-week flat in one of the unfashionable parts of London and worked in repertory at the Royal Court. He also did endless television serials and the occasional television play. "It was a hard life," he saus. "I think acting is - because of the insecurity. I never liked television too much. We'd get three weeks for rehearsal and then the taping. In films it's more leisurely, though you have to concentrate for a longer period of time". If … was the break all actors dream about, Malcolm went to the auditions and was chosen for the part. Lthough the critics were enthusiastic when it opened in London nothing much happened to him. Then he went to the States when it opened in New York. "They thought it was great," he says. "I was offered quite a number of scripts to read and they did take an interest in me. On the television talk shows, they kept pigeon-holing me as the new Steve McQueen or the new Dustin Hoffman - I didn't mind too much as long as they were happy with their categories".

Since If… he's been in Spain filming Barry England's novel Figures In A Landscape. The director is Joseph Losey and Malcolm's co-star is Robert Shaw. After that he's making a film with Jean Simmons. "I try to look for the combination of a good script and a good director. Which is easy. Where it becomes hard is when you get a good script and a new director. He may be good. You have to decide". He avoids the star circuit and the big parties. He has the same friends as before and spends most of his spare time writing a film for his own production company. The idea has been in him for eight years but before he became a success he never had the time. (Radio Times, November 6, 1969 - Article by Timeri Murari).


Cast :
With Malcolm McDowell (Happy), Richard Vernon (Lord Oscar), Brenda Bruce (Ma), Leslie Sands (Brack), Pauline Collins (Angelina), Wendy Allnutt (Frances), Joseph Cuby (Steff), Kenneth Colley (Jock), Ian Gardiner (Curtis), Freda Bamford (Mrs Holloway), Philip Newman (The Police Constable), David Ashford (The Solicitor) and Frank Mills (Charlie).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Lighting for this episode was supervised by Jim Richards.

There Is Also Tomorrow
Transmitted : 19th November 1969
Script : Hugo Chateris
Director : John Mackenzie

Synopsis : Colonel Sutherland, about to retire as commanding officer of a nuclear missle regiment, is shocked to see his daughter Sally on television - taking part in a student demonstration.

Cast :
Glyn Houston (Ronald Sutherland), Jean Harvey (Cynthia Sutherland), Ann Penfold (Sally Sutherland), David Burke (Len), Neville Smith (Izzy), Luke Hardy (Joe), Geraldine Sherman (Rosemary), John Nettleton (Henry), Kenneth Farrington (Bill Morgan), Alec Ross (The Major), Christian Comber (John Sutherland), John Bull (The Guitarist), Willie Jonah and Robert Wilde (The Students), Corbet Woodall (The News Reader), Alistair Maclane (The NCO), John Baker (The Hall Porter), Peter Macann (The Interviewer), Raymond Farrell (The MP), Michael Sloan, Jerry King and James Allan (The Americans), Cecil Cheng and Richard Woo (The Chinese).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of sixty minutes and was transmitted from 9:15pm to 10:15pm.

Script Editor for this episode was Shaun MacLoughlin.

This episode was the first edition of The Wednesday Play to be recorded and transmitted in colour, as confirmed by the Radio Times. All future episodes of The Wednesday Play would now be transmitted in colour.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on June 24th, 1971.


Double Bill
Transmitted : 26th November 1969
Script : Johnny Speight
Director : John McGrath

Synopsis : The title has a double meaning. Not only does tonight's Wednesday Play feature two Johnny Speight plays but the central character in both of them is called Bill. This gives Marty Feldman the opportunity for something of a dramatic tour-de-force in his first "straight" venture on BBC Television. Both thue plays have been shown before separately and it was Johnny Speight who wanted them combined, featuring Marty. Surprisingly, Johnny Speight has only had four plays on television before - these are two of them. In The Compartment, Bill plagues an old man in a train carriage and in Playmates his (female) victim is in a country house.

Cast :
Marty Feldman (Bill), Eileen Atkins (The Woman), Joby Blanshard (The Man), Diane Aubrey and Donald Gee (The Couple).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of sixty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:10pm.

Incidental Music for this episode was provided by Carl Davis. Script Editor for this episode was Shaun MacLoughlin.

Playmates enjoyed a repeat broadcast under the Play For Today banner on April 8th, 1971.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.


Blood Of The Lamb
Transmitted : 3rd December 1969
Script : Leon Whiteson
Director : Alan Bridges

Synopsis : A liner from South Africa is the setting for this powerful three-cornered drama. Alec, a student architect from Cape Town, and his coloured girlfriend, Mary, are leaving for the bigger world of London. Sharing a cabin with Alec is Albert, a strange and magnetic Austrian. While Alec is an innocent, Albert has experienced everything. He is played by Frank Finlay, whose most recent BBC Television appearance was as Brutus in Julius Caesar, and who has recently filmed Cromwell and The Molly Maguires.

Cast :
Frank Finlay (Albert), Nicola Pagett (Mary), T P McKenna (Joe Katz), Anthony Corlan (Alec), Donald Morley (The Purser), Trevor Martin (The Steward) and Raymond Mason (The Barman).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Script Editor for this episode was Shaun MacLough.

The Vortex
Transmitted : 10th December 1969
Script : Noel Coward
Director :
Philip Dudley

Cast :
Margaret Leighton (Florence Lancaster), Alan Melville (Pawnie), Patrick Barr (David Lancaster), Jennifer Daniel (Helen Saville), Barry Justice (Tom Veryan), Richard Warwick (Nicky Lancaster), Felicity Gibson (Bunty Mainwaring), Nancie Jackson (Clara Hibbert), David McKail (Bruce Fairlight) and Patricia Mort (Preston).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:20pm.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

It Wasn't Me
Transmitted : 17th December 1969
Script : James Hanley
Director : James Ferman

Synopsis : Some people will do anything to get rid of an ageing father. George and Edna visit the sinister Mr Shafton and his son - who guarantee to solve any problem. But their solution isn't quite what they expected and George and Edna see one another in a new and frightening light. The shrewish Edna is played by Frances Cuka, a distinguished member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her recent appearances include The Silver Tassie and Pinter's Silence. Ronald Lacey has been in two recent films - Take A Girl Like You and How I Won The War. This is a new play by the novelist James Hanley whose best-known play was Say Nothing.

Cast :
Frances Cuka (Edna), Ronald Lacey (George), Derek Francis (Cornelius Shafton), Harry Hutchinson (The Father) and Milton Johns (Hugh Shafton).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of sixty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:10pm.

Incidental Music for this episode was provided by Carey Blyton.

Lighting for this episode was supervised by Peter Wesson.

The Season Of The Witch
Transmitted : 7th January 1970
Script : Desmond McCarthy and Johnny Byrne
Director : Desmond McCarthy

Publicity : Julie Driscoll this week makes her debut as an actress, but her fans needn't fear that she's giving up the singing career that made her a star by the time she was eighteen. "Acting and singing - it's all part of the same bit," she explained at the council flat in Lambeth where she lives with her mother. "The play seemed to be saying something I wanted to say, so I took it".

It's called The Season Of The Witch, the title of a Donovan number she used to sing. "It's about a period in this girl's life when she's unsure of herself. She's looking for answers. Yes, she does find some". Julie was recently in the same sort of situation herself. It's a year since she broke with Brian Auger and the Trinity and took a rest from the pop-and-jazz scene. "I'd done four years on the road and I'd had enough. I want to get back with live audiences. They really turn me on. But I'm not going to do it like it was". When she did play last year she was, she says, "in the middle of a breakdown - which didn't help. Or perhaps it did". Now twenty-two, very pretty, and softer than the photographs of her which emphasised the "soul" and forgot the girl, she says she's discovered that part of the answer is not to look for the answers. "I'm just going along with it all. I'm not forcing things anymore. I have no anxiety. I feel things will come along in their own time". A while back she was offered a part in a play in America. "I'd have loved to do it, but I'm not an actress and to do a six months' gig was just too much".

At the moment she's happy writing the songs for her next album, I Nearly Forgot But I Came Back, due out shortly. Liltingly she recited the whole of the long title song. "It's about the park across the road there," she said, waving towards the window. "I hand't been there for years, and I suddenly realised how much it had changed. Or I had. It's really all about change. The whole album's about this period in my life". One of the lines from the song reads: "Turned on by life is the best kind of high" - which is what, apparently, the play, too, is trying to say. One thing was puzzling - but not really so. Unlike her alter ego in the play, Julie hadn't left her home in Coronation Buildings, a pretty grim place from the outside. "Which coronation? Victoria's, I should think". She laughed appreciatively. "But I really dig it here. It's so warm. And then there's my mum. She's so marvellous. She knows I have to do what I have to do - and now I'm able to do it. I think I'm just now beginning to appreciate it. I am a very lucky bird. I really am". (Radio Times, January 17, 1970 - Article by Bob Smyth).

Synopsis : Julie Driscoll stars in this moving and unusual play about a girl who drops out of the automated world of the typing pool. It follows her on her search for personal freedom. Her search for fulfillment typifies the way of life of many young people today, combined with a sense of excitement underlined by the film's powerful music.

Cast :
Julie Driscoll (Meredith Bates), Paul Nicholas (Jake), Robert Powell (Shaun), Maurice Quick (The City Gentleman), Jenny Fabian (Anne), Fanny Carby (Mrs Bates), Glynn Edwards (Mr Bates), Karrie Lambert (The Woman Police Constable), Amanda Walker (The Woman Police Inspector), Christine Hargreaves (Jenny Bates), Frank Littlewood (The Magistrate) and Tony Caunter (The Lorry Driver).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:20pm.

Music for this episode was provided by Brian Auger and The Trinity. "To Be Free" was performed by Julie Driscoll. Film Cameraman for this episode was Brian Tufano, sound was supervised by Michael Turner.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast under the Play For Today banner on April 22nd, 1971.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Millie Migla
Transmitted : 14th January 1970
Script : Athol Fugard
Director :
Robin Midgley

Cast :
Michael Bryant (Stirling Moss), Ronald Lacey (Denis Jenkinson), Guy Deghy (Alfred Neubauer), George Roubicek (Hugo), Douglas Ditta (The Waiter) and Fabio Galvano (The Radio Commentator).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:20pm.

Script Editor for this episode was James Brabazon.

This episode enjoyed a repeat transmission as part of The Wednesday Play series, having previously been broadcast on BBC-2 in 1968 before its inclusion in this anthology series.

Athol Fugard's play was later adapted for the stage under the title "Drivers" by David Muir.

The Hunting Of Lionel Crane
Transmitted : 21st January 1970
Script : Roy Minton
Director :
Michael Tuchner

Cast :
Robert Powell (Lionel Crane), Michael Robbins (Sergeant Billings), Don Hawkins (George Binns), Geoffrey Hughes (Flash Blakey), Anthony Trent (Bern), Sandra Shipley (Pamela), James Grout (The Squire), John Barrett (Christmas Potter), Walter Sparrow (Lionel's Father), John Rees (The Gamekeeper), Veronica Doram (Margery), Leslie Anderson (Bramlett), Will Leighton (The Pub Barber), Reg Lye (The Lorry Driver), John Comer (The Warrant Officer), Ambrose Coghill (The Colonel), Charles Adey-Gray (The Camp Barber), John Sarbutt (The Assistant Gamekeeper), Chris Webb (The Corporal), Terence Angel, Mike Daly, Andrew Grant, Hugh Halliday, Tom Laird, Albert Lampert, Jerry Martin, Barry McCarthy, Paul Prescott, Mark Rivers, Adrian Shergold and Peter Winter (The Members Of The Squad).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm. Music for this episode was provided by Martin Baggott.

Film Editor for this episode was Geoffrey Botterill. Sound for this episode was supervised by Peter Edwards. Film Cameraman for this episode was provided by Peter Bartlett.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Rest In Peace, Uncle Fred
Transmitted : 28th January 1970
Script : Alan Plater
Director :
Michael Hayes

Cast :
Susan Jameson (Jenny), Corin Redgrave (Richard), Anne Dyson (Mrs Thomas), Jack Watson (The Reverend Beaumont), John Barrett (Mr Thomas), Brian Rawlinson (Bernard), Ruth Dunning (Aunt Meg) and Jo Rowbottom (Christine).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of sixty minutes and was transmitted from 9:15pm to 10:15pm.

Music for this episode was by Tubby Hayes And His Quintet. Script Editor for this episode was Shaun MacLoughlin.

Mad Jack
Transmitted : 4th February 1970
Script : Tom Clarke
Director : Jack Gold

Publicity : One Man's Protest Against The System - Siegfried Sassoon, poet, writer, and Foxhunting Man, was also famed for his protest against inhumanity in the First World War. Tom Clarke's play, Mad Jack, tells his story: When Tom Clarke wrote Made Jack, which is based on what happened to the poet and writer Siegfried Sassoon in the first world war, he had two aims in mind. He wanted to pay tribute to Sassoon's courage and idealism, and he wanted to comment on the nature and effectiveness of an individual's protest against the system. "I was at one of the Grosvenor Square demonstrations in 1967, and everyone was having such a marvellous time," says Clarke. "I saw lots of my friends there, all out with their kids: everyone was very jolly. That sort of protest doesn't cost much. Sassoon was a desperately conventional man who wanted to be considered a Foxhunting Man. He did something that was absolutely against his own instincts. The contrast seemed to me to be very relevant".

Mad Jack compresses the events of about two years into a few days, but is otherwise very close to actual events. It tells how in 1917 Sassoon, a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, who had been in action on the Western Front and won the Military Cross, wrote an official protest against those responsible for the appalling and unnecessary sacrifice of men's lives. The army sent him to think things over in an hotel in Liverpool. During a miserable week there he was visited by a friend of his, who persuaded him not to stand by his statement lest his friends consider him a coward and he be declared insane. Sassoon finally agreed to go before a Medical Board hoping to be passed fit for active service. But instead he was sent to a hospital for shell-shocked officers, thus providing an excuse for his protest to be dismissed. Tom Clarke feels that Sassoon's brave attempt cost him a great deal, that he was misunderstood at the time and was afraid of being misunderstood for the rest of his life.

"It was an emotional protest, not a political one," he says. "The play demonstrates that although it may seem futile for one man to protest against a whole system of social brainwashing, there's also hope. Sassoon's example - and his poetry - have lived on. After the war, Sassoon made a brief bid to enter politics as a Labour MP, but soon retreated to Wiltshire, where he rode and continued his writing. He became a bit of a recluse, and disliked the recurrent interest that his gesture of protest inevitably aroused in successive generations. He was a reluctant hero. Tom Clarke met him and they exchanged letters while he was working on the play. He found that although Sassoon wished him well, he did not really want to get too much involved. "He remained a pacifist, though he preferred to describe himself as a quietist," says Clarke. He seemed almost worried that continuing interest in his story meant that he could be guilty of exploiting his wartime experiences. Nothing would have been more abhorrent to him. My renown as a war writer has become a burden on my mind," he wrote to Clarke. When he was dying, in 1967, he talked a lot about his moment of protest fifty years before". He remained obsessed with the horrors of war. He told his nurse, "Nobody really knew how terrible the war was". (Radio Times, January 29, 1970 - Article by Anne Chisholm).

Synopsis : Protest has become easy and respectable now. But for a young subaltern in 1917 to speak out against the horrors of the Western Front was unthinkable. One did. Second-Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon, a young English country gentleman who made public his revulsion against the war. This film, directed by Jack Gold, tells of the week in a Liverpool hotel was Sassoon re-examined his protest in spite of its complete rejection by Authority and the public.

Cast :
Michael Jayston (Siegfried Sassoon), Michael Pennington (Geoffrey Cromlech), Clive Swift (The Adjutant), David Wood (Ormand), Charles Lewson (Bertrand Russell), Anna Barry (Lady Ottoline), John Boxer (Hugh Massingham), Jonathan Cecil (Lytton Strachey), Roger Ostime (Barton), Donald Sumpter (Wilmot), Barry Savage (Mansfield), James Cossins (Colonel Jones-Williams) and Ann Beach (The Music-Hall Artist).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

Film Cameraman for this episode was Nat Crosby. Film Editor for this episode was Dan Rae. Music for this episode was provided by Carl Davis.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast under the Play For Today banner on March 18th, 1971.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Nathan and Tabileth
Transmitted : 11th February 1970
Script : Barry Bermange
Director :
Barry Bermange

Publicity : Barry Bermange is one of our leading playwrights. His name was in the news last year following the much-discussed showing of the play Invasion on BBC-2, in which guests at a dinner-party were horrifyingly destroyed by the effects of a Vietnam newsreel on the telly. Bermange is concerned, not with yesterday or even today, but rather with what's happening tomorrow and the day after. His ideas consequently are controversial, far-reaching, radical, always thought-provoking, and one would be very surprised if Nathan And Tabileth does not come in for a similar barrage of comment.

Like Invasion, it has been co-produced with a Dutch television company, and will be screened simultaneously in both countries, with respective Dutch or English "voices over". Why simultaneous screening? "No reason, actually," says London-born Bermange, thirty-six. "But as it was a co-production we thought it would nice a nice idea to make a little `event' of it". The play, about a married couple living in grand old age - grim, sad, a little noble - whose life is sterile and empty until their grandson Bernie comes to visit them, is filmed throughout in brown and white, except for the central scene in which Bernie visits the old couple. This is seen in colour. "The idea behind the brown and white filming," explains Bermange, "has been inspired by old photographs and the paintings of Rembrandt". And the colour section? "Well, I've used this in order to break into the couples' `old world'. It has the stunning effect of unexpectedly introducing a very strong, realistic note".

Bermange directed the film himself in the province of Utrecht in Holland entirely on location, with an all-Dutch cast and an all-Dutch crew. "I have made it as a silent film over which the characters' voices are superimposed," he says. "At no time is anyone seen to speak. There is dialogue, but it's always as a voice-over". The grandparents are played by eighty-six-year-old Albert van Dalsum, one of Holland's greatest old Shakespearean actors, and Nell Knoop, who is seventy-six. "It's one of those plays that's been with me for a very long time," Bermange says. "Now, for the first time, I am able to show exactly what I meant by this piece when I wrote it". (A radio adaptation of the original stage play was broadcast in 1962 on the Home Service, and the play was later performed at the 1967 Edinburgh Festival). But what really excited the BBC drama department about the play when they first read it was that it tries to make a statement which can be easily translated into any language. "It would be possible," says Bermange, "to do it in Tibetan or Indian". I don't doubt that he's working on it. (Radio Times, February 5, 1970 - Article by Ian Woodward).


Cast :
Albert Van Dalsum (Nathan), Nell Knoop (Tabileth), Wies Andersen (Bernie), Cameron Miller, Hilda Barry and Kendrick Owen (The Voices).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

This episode was a BBC Television and NCRV Co-Production.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

The Italian Table
Transmitted : 18th February 1970
Script : William Trevor
Director : Herbert Wise

Publicity : You've been a professional actor for fifteen years. The suddenly your caricature of Hitler in a play by Brecht called The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Uri makes you a star. The critics get so carried away that they lavish on you a whole year's supply of complimentary adjectives. You say to yourself wryly that you've been giving similar performances - in the theatre, films, and television - for some time now without managing to inspire such overwhelming praise. But you can't help smiling as new plays are sent to you by theatre managers who a year ago would have said: "Leonard Rossiter? Yes… but he wouldn't really be box-office".

But you still have a problem: what to do next? Says Rossiter: "I want to do another theatre play quickly to confirm the fact that it wasn't just one performance - and I haven't found the right one yet. Arturo Uri offered me a high percentage of all the things I was good at: I'm looking for something else that will. I've had all sorts of megalomaniacal parts offered to me - but I'm wary of doing exactly the same things again". Leonard Rossiter takes his work seriously - and doesn't let money interfere with it. "I used to like buying things - an expensive shirt or a pair of shoes - but that was a phase: I've become less and less interested in money. I've got a house in Fulham and I drive a Mini - I don't really want status symbols like big cars". After Arturo Uri Leonard Rossiter didn't work for six weeks before he started rehearsing for The Italian Table by William Trevor. "I play a junk man who gets involved in the story of a husband, his wife and another woman. The characters are rather like Pinter's people: the things they say don't connect". (Radio Times, February 12, 1970 - Article by Wynford Hicks).


Cast :
Leonard Rossiter (Mr Jeffs), Isobel Dean (Mrs Hammond), Moira Redmond (Mrs Youghal), Ronald Hines (Mr Hammond), Bridget Brice (Ursula), Libby Grainger (Lucy), John Horsley (Sir Andrew Charles) and Dorothy Frere (Mrs Lynch).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

Sound for this episode was supervised by Chick Anthony. Lighting for this episode was supervised by Dennis Channon.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on June 17th, 1971.

The Boy Who Wanted Peace
Transmitted : 25th February 1970
Script : George Friel
Director : Pharic Maclaren

Synopsis : "I'm not one of your juvenile delinquents you know. I believe in God. Maybe my God isn't your God, and maybe your God isn't my God. But we both mean God, and you can't get past God. I thought I could find peace in God and be a poet … But you can't be a poet just because you want to".

Publicity : Laurance Ruddick, seventeen, and Jonathan Watson, thirteen, co-star in this week's Wednesday Play from BBC Scotland, The Boy Who Wanted Peace, by George Friel. Jonathan, although younger, has actually had more professional experience than Laurance: as well as commercials, he has appeared in schools television productions. He's a bit puzzled by his diminuitive stature. "I don't really understand it. I eat an awful lot and I drink about two pints of milk a day, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. I think I'm four-foot-eight-inches". Laurance, like Jonathan, went to Hillhead High School, which is a stone's throw away from the BBC in Glasgow.

The two boys knew each other long before this play came up, and Laurance treats Jonathan protectively, like a younger brother. At school, they shared interest in acting made them friends, despite the age difference. When Laurance left school, with acting in mind, he took a job in the BBC, as a messenger boy, working on the reception desk in Broadcasting House in Glasgow. Last spring, just as he was beginning to weary of running up and down stairs, Laurance telephoned a leading Scottish agent, sent pictures, and said he'd tackle anything - walk-on parts, no matter how small. At about the same time, he applied to the drama college for an audition.

He was already active in the BBC's local amateur drama group, and while he was taking part in a revue for the staff, Peter Farrell, production assistant in the drama department in Glasgow, asked him if he would like to audition for a part in a forthcoming television play. He was short-listed for the part, and simulatenously granted his audition for the drama college. The two things at the same time, says Laurance, "were sheer hell. It was agony, waiting to hear what was happening". But everything worked out: he was accepted for the college, and he got the Wednesday Play part. "I didn't even realise it was the lead, but I can remember going to the producer's office. When he told me, I just couldn't believe it. Suddenly, it had all happened for me". (Radio Times, February 19, 1970 - Article by Deirdre Macdonald).


Cast :
Laurance Ruddick (Percy Phinn), Roddy McMillan (The Stranger), Joseph Brady (Mr Garson), Jonathan Watson (Frank Garson), Larry Marshall (O'Neill), Charles Kearney (O'Donnell), Irene Sunters (Mrs Phinn), David Gallacher (Savage), Gerard Slevin Junior (Neddy), Simon Marshall (Specky), David Seltzer (Skinny), Paul Kormack (Mr Daunders), John Shedden (Mr Whiffen), Carol Ann Dunigan (Sophie), Mary Riggans (Mrs Mann), Douglas Murchie (The Janitor), Anne Kristen (Mrs Garson), Gerard Slevin (The Police Sergeant), Michael Harrigan (The Booking Clerk), Arthur Boland (The First London Policeman), George Howell (The Second London Policeman) and James Drury (The Boy In The Playground).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

Music for this episode was provided by Andy Park. Cameraman for this episode was provided by Alex Scott. Sound for this episode was supervised by Gordon Forsyth. Film Editor for this episode was Patrick Higson.

This episode was recorded in the studios of BBC Scotland.

The Cellar And The Almond Tree
Transmitted : 4th March 1970
Script : David Mercer
Director :
Alan Bridges

Publicity : "This trilogy is partly my swan-song to conscious politics in drama," says David Mercer of his three latest television plays, the second of which, The Cellar And The Almond Tree, is this week's Wednesday Play. The first, On The Eve Of Publication, seen in November 1968 (and repeated last June), looked at the life and death of Robert Kelvin, a famous left-wing writer: the third, which Mercer has already completed, takes up the story of Kelvin's young girlfriend Emma. The Cellar And The Almond Tree moves the trilogy out of England into a central European communist country in the late 1940s, where a former friend of Kelvin's, Volubin, a poet who has become a party official, is enmeshed in the political machinery of a state about to plunge into a succession of Stalinist purges.

Although Mercer does not want to labour the point, it will not be hard to work out which communist country he is writing about. "The play is based on an actual anecdote," explains Mercer. "It may be true or it may be apocryphal. It's about an old lady who could not concede that the revolution in her country had taken place". The play is centred on the encounter between the Countess, who is allowed by the regime to stay on in a top floor flat in her family palace, now owned by the state, and Volubin, who is sent on the eve of a party banquet to persuade her to hand over the keys to the wine cellar. "They talk, and she recalls her life, the life of the Central European aristocracy between the wars; she talks of the countryside, horses and carriages and children, and the almond trees in blossom. Meanwhile he is recollecting his life, which has been one prison after another. He seems to have spent most of his life in cellars. The two sets of memories come together; in the end the cellar is imposed upon the almond tree".

David Mercer is in his early forties, solid, with a strong face like a Bruegel peasant's and a neat black Mephistophelian beard. He talks clearly and deliberately in a deep voice with marked Yorkshire intonation. As he describes the play, it is plain that the visual images of his story are as real and important to him as the plot. This ability to think simultaneously in terms of the film image and of the spoken word is what has made Mercer's work for television outstanding. Mercer was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1928, the son of an engine-driver. His career reads like a blueprint for a contemporary working-class intellectual's progress: failed the local grammar school and left school at fourteen, worked as a pathologist's laboratory assistant, joined the Merchant Navy, made it to Durham University, decided to be a painter. So he went to Paris, decided to be a novelist, decided his novels were no good, came back to England, had a prolonged breakdown, was retrieved by analysis, worked as a supply teacher for ten pounds a week, and wrote his first play for television.


Where The Difference Begins (the first of a trilogy about two would-be intellectual sons of a working-class father), in 1959. The BBC put it on in 1961, it worked, and his career has not looked back. He has now written fifteen television plays, one of which, A Suitable Case For Treatment, became the film Morgan, with David Warner and Vanessa Redgrave, and three stage plays, Belcher's Luck and The Governor's Lady, which were put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Aldwych Theatre, and Ride A Cock Horse. He has won several awards: he has a new play coming on in London at the Aldwych this week and another in Oxford soon. Mercer's themes have all been closely related to his personal experience; he explores political and emotional tension and isolation, people struggling to be human and societies struggling to be just. Social and mental dislocation, the borderline between sanity and madness, lonely and alienated people have also been his subjects. He mixes reality and fantasy, sensitivity and humour, ribaldry and his own bewildering, beautiful imagery, full of gentle animals and dreams of sudden violence.

Now he seems to be standing at a crossroads in his life. "I have got politically tired," he says. "I've been pushing politics more and more off stage for years. I'm much more concerned now with the destruction of people by their social system, whether it's British or American or Russian or Chinese. All systems cripple their subjects almost from birth. There hasn't been a revolution in history which hasn't consumed itself, with the possible exception of Cuba, and I'm not even sure about what's been happening there lately. I'd like political interpretation of my plays to remain possible and consistent with my position as a rather battered Marxist. But I'm back to that almost banal position - and like many banalities it'sm almost profound - it's the people involved that concern me. Maybe that's to do with middle age".

Mercer now lives in a beautifully converted Victorian terrace house between Maida Vale and Saint John's Wood, with the attic floor knocked into one big studio room where he works, looking out at rooftops and the sky. Even the house seems to bother him - "What's it for?" he asks, sounding self-mocking and anxious. He dislikes the stereotype image of the writer made good who turns against his own success, but feels it fits him just the same. The Cellar And The Almond Tree, he says, is about "something that I think is going to preoccupy me more and more as I get older: the sense of the past being irrevocable. This knowledge has a kind of pain. How much does the past live in us? I am preoccupied with the idea of using dramatic technique to create past and present in the same moment. It's not a new idea, but television is such a marvellous medium in which to do it. For me the profound significance that television has is this ability to counterpoint words and images. That's why I go on working in television drama; there are things I can't say in any other way". (Radio Times, February 26, 1970 - Article by Anne Chisholm).


Cast :
Celia Johnson (Countess Von Roger), Peter Vaughan (Volubin), Sydney Tafler (Blaustein), Patsy Byrne (Marenka), Bernard Kay (Robert Kelvin), Richard Beaumont (The Little Boy), Peter Jesson (Bernard), Jon Rollason (The Gestapo Agent), Leonard Cracknell (Pavel), Lysandre De La Hay (The Little Girl), Gerald Case (The Gentleman) and Godfrey James (The Interrogator).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Costumes for this episode were provided by Velma Buckle. Lighting for this episode was supervised by Dennis Channon. Script Editor for this episode was Shaun MacLoughlin.

The Cellar And The Almond Tree was the second instalment of a three-part story, which started in On The Eve Of Publication, transmitted on November 27th, 1968, and which found its conclusion in Emma's Time, transmitted on May 13th, 1970.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on June 10th, 1971.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

The Year Of The Sex Olympics
Transmitted : 11th March 1970
Script : Nigel Kneale
Director : Michael Elliott

Publicity : The Year Of The Sex Olympics is about a world that has taken the permissive society about as far as it can go. Since the play was first shown twenty months ago we seem to have moved, for better or worse, perceptibly towards it. Just what is being permitted? Sex? That has never been seriously hindered. Even the Victorians managed to rear huge families and to keep mistresses on the side. They just didn't like to talk about it. We talk about sex, we write about it, and we show representations of it on stage and screen. We are entering one of our civilsation's recurrent "frank" phases. Censors tumble. Nakedness is part of the visual vocabulary.

The New Honest is limited to sex, of course. It doesn't extend to such facts of life as sickness and senility and death. About these we remain more po-faced than the Victorians ever were. What is actually being permitted, then, is voyeurism. A new, kingsize, superstyle voyeurism on the grandest possible scale. The tremulous Peeping Toms, the lonely self-gratifiers and genital-exposers, have come into their own at last - and we are all invited to join their fun. For this particular phase of new morality has happened to coincide with a communications explosion. Bared bosoms in Los Angeles can be reflected instantly on to all the screens of the world. All harmless, if mindless, fun? Well, we live in a world that is finding it increasingly hard to keep a grip on reality and to separate fact from fiction.

Wait, then, till the permissive screens take over and channel vies with glittering channel to offer vicarious excitements. Ever more voluptuous bodies, coupling for our pleasure in hi-fi detail. Sexual athletes performing in competition, superbly and constantly. Pop-sex idols drawing their vast audiences into total identification and topping their wildest, most libidinous dreams for them … Imagine a Twenty-First Century Establishment using such power. For the good of the world, naturally. Employing mass voyeurism to quench the population explosion and all its attendant tensions.

Fighting sex with sex-substitute, stunning the gigantic idle super-audience with ceaselessly applied pornography. Watch, not do. Man's most personal physical act would flicker very low. He would function only briefly in the universal gene-pool before being allowed to degenerate and die young, sitting till the last in front of the universal screens, agog for the Sportsex and Artsex programmes. And every four years, to give the population graph a sharp downwards jolt, comes the biggest treat of all - the Sex Olympics. (Radio Times, March 5, 1970 - Article by Nigel Kneale).


Cast :
Leonard Rossiter (Co-Ordinator Ugo Priest), Suzanne Neve (Deanie Webb), Tony Vogel (Nat Mender), Vickery Turner (Misch), Brian Cox (Lasar Opie), George Murcell (Grels), Martin Potter (Kim Hodder), Lesley Roach (Keten Webb), Hira Talfrey (Betty) and Patricia Maynard (The Nurse).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of ninety minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:40pm.

This episode had originally been transmitted on July 29th, 1968, as part of the Theatre 625 collection of plays. This repeat performance saw the high-profile play enjoy renewed appreciation under The Wednesday Play banner.

The repeat transmission of this play fell ten minutes short of the original running time.

This episode enjoyed Region 2 DVD release courtesy of the BFI in April 2003.

No Trams To Lime Street
Transmitted : 18th March 1970
Script : Alun Owen, music and lyrics by Marty Wilde and Ronnie Scott
Director :
Piers Haggard

Publicity : "It's Pure Television - It Simply Couldn't Be Anything Else" - Marty Wilde and Ronnie Scott have written the music for an adaptation of an Alun Owen story for, what is this week, The Wednesday Musical. Elizabeth Cowley talks to the people who put it together: Hands up anyone who has heard of Reginald Leonard Smith. Nobody? All right - Marty Wilde? That's who Smith turned into somewhere around 1956. Still no? Well, think back to the late 1950s - Elvis and Bill Haley, Little Richard and Rockers in tight trousers and leather jackets…

He made his first record at seventeen and his first big hit, "Bad Boy", which he wrote himself, was in 1959. His fans - and they were legion - wept when he married a pretty Vernon girl named Joyce. And the adult world started to take him seriously when he appeared in the Broadway musical Bye-Bye Birdie. Today Marty Wilde blushes at the thought of the old days. He has become more repsectable, and is making a steady living both singing straight ballads on the northern club circuit and writing good songs. These he does in partnership with a young music publisher named Ronnie Scott. (No - not the Ronnie Scott). Together they make an interesting double act. They obviously spark each other off, and in their music the teamwork shows. "I'm a tiger," which Lulu recorded, "Jesamine", recorded by the Casuals, and "Abergavenny", recorded by Marty himself, have all been high in the charts. This week, their growing reputation should take a big step forward because the Wednesday Play is a musical - and the music is all theirs.

It's an adaptation of Alun Owen's classic No Trams To Lime Street. Set in pre-Beatles Liverpool, it tells the story of Billy, Taff and Cass, three young merchant seamen who put into their home port after more than three years away. They find everything has changed - no trams for a start … The play traces their own private voages of discovery - and rediscovery - through the alleys and pubs of the old city. "It's the sort of story that should go well with music," Alun Owen told me on the telephone from Wales where he's immersed in another Wednesday Play. "But I haven't seen the finished product. I just adapted the original here and there and handed it over to the producer, Harry Moore, and the director, Piers Haggard, to get on with. I heard the demonstration discs Wilde and Scott had prepared and liked them, but the final product will come, I hope, as a happy surprise".

Well, I've seen No Trams and I think everyone connected with it should be very happy indeed. Director Haggard, who did Gershwin's Tiptoes for BBC-2, has outdone himself. "There's no film in it anywhere, except in the black and white back projection," he said. "It's all studio movement in super colours against sepia and monochrome flats. We could have shot the play straight with the actors stopping every so often to burst into song, but we didn't. Their songs on the soundtrack follow their actions, so the play never stands still. It's pure television; it simply couldn't be anything else". "I got a great charge out of doing this musical, you know," said Marty. "I now want to work on one about the Tsar of all the Russias. But I hear Hollywood is already doing it…". So, until he finds another subject, Marty is back on the club circuit - ("I love the North") - and, just for old time's sake, is making an LP…of rock and roll. (Radio Times, March 12, 1970 - Article by Elizabeth Cowley).


Cast :
Rosemary Nichols (Betty), Glyn Owen (Old Cass), Anthony May (Billy), Paul Greenwood (Cass), Elian Wyn (Taff), Artro Morris (The Chief), Julia Hand (The Barmaid), Gerard Healy (The Sergeant), Pat Spencer, Brenda Armstrong, Su Chin, Stella Courtney, Valerie Griffiths, Louanne Richards, Peter Ardran, David Browning, Eddie Connor, George Giles, Colin Griffith, Bernard Jameson, Joseph Kully, Dickie Martyn, Harry Pitch, Don Vernon and Norman Warwick.

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of fifty minutes and was transmitted from 9:15pm to 10:05pm.

Music for this episode was arranged and conducted by Ken Woodman. Choreographer for this episode was David Toguri.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast under the Play For Today banner on March 11th, 1971.

To See How Far It Is (Part 1): Murphy's Law
Transmitted : 25th March 1970
Script : Alan Plater
Director : Roderick Graham

Synopsis : The first in a series of three plays by one of television's top writers - Alan Plater. Norman Rodway stars as Murphy "a humble pen-pusher in a cardboard box factory" who tries to brighten his life with home movies, tape-recording, and home-made wine. But success can come out of failure…

Cast :
Norman Rodway (Murphy), Nigel Davenport (Donkin), Ronald Hines (James), Rhoda Lewis (Norah), Donald Gee (Turner), Philip Bond (Stephens), Heather Stoney (Doris), John Bryans (Mellish), Arthur Cox (Featherston), Malcolm Hayes (Jennings), Dorothy Edwards (Miss Hopkirk), Janie Booth (Sandra), Ros Drinkwater (Julia), Christina Greatrex (Celia), Arnold Ridley (Tunnicliffe), Michael Graham Cox (Bill) and Robert Mill (Adrian).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

This trilogy of plays had originally been broadcast as part of the popular Theatre 625 series on BBC-2 in 1968, before enjoying a repeat transmission on BBC-1 as part of The Wednesday Play series.

Music for this episode was provided by Norman Kay.

Keith Dewhurst of The Guardian hailed this trilogy of plays, on its original transmission, as follows: "This trilogy is without question the most ambitious and the best thing that Mr Plater has done".

To See How Far It Is (Part 2): The Curse Of The Donkins
Transmitted : 1st April 1970
Script : Alan Plater
Director :
Gilchrist Calder

Cast :
Nigel Davenport (Donkin), Norman Rodway (Murphy), Stephanie Bidmead (Mrs Mellish), Fiona Walker (Susan), John Bryans (Mr Mellish), Jill Melford (Mrs Donkin), Clive Francis (David Donkin), Donald Webster (Mike), Gareth Robinson (Terry), Helen Cotterill (Brenda), Patricia Maynard (The Receptionist), Richard Armour (MacAllister), Robert McBain (Perkins), Tony Blackburn, Judith Chalmers, Stephen Jack and Graham Parker (The Radio Voices).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

This trilogy of plays had originally been broadcast as part of the popular Theatre 625 series on BBC-2 in 1968, before enjoying a repeat transmission on BBC-1 as part of The Wednesday Play series.

Music for this episode was provided by Norman Kay.

Michael Billington of The Times hailed this trilogy of plays, on its original transmission, as follows: "It was the sheer fluency and ease of the writing that struck me most about `The Curse Of The Donkins'…Mr Plater gave us an extremely entertaining and swift-moving seventy-five minutes".

To See How Far It Is (Part 3): To See How Far It Is
Transmitted : 8th April 1970
Script : Alan Plater
Director : Naomi Capon

Synopsis : Donkin and Murphy find themselves sharing a cabin - if not interests - on a cruise ship. Donkin, typically, arranges a little feminine company. Murphy's "find" Kate is played by Anne Stallybrass, who was the ill-starred Jane Seymour in The Six Wives Of Henry VIII.

Cast :
Nigel Davenport (Donkin), Norman Rodway (Murphy), Avril Elgar (Margaret), Anne Stallybrass (Kate), Geoffrey Bayldon (Palmer) and Peter Stephens (Captain Carruthers).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

This trilogy of plays had originally been broadcast as part of the popular Theatre 625 series on BBC-2 in 1968, before enjoying a repeat transmission on BBC-1 as part of The Wednesday Play series.

Music for this episode was provided by Norman Kay.

Maurice Wiggin of The Sunday Times hailed this trilogy of plays, on its original transmission, as follows: "Alan Plater's trilogy, `To See How Far It Is', established a hold in the first minute and has sustained quite an appeal".

Wine Of India
Transmitted : 15th April 1970
Script : Nigel Kneale
Director : Gilchrist Calder

Publicity : Britain In 2050: Nigel Kneale is a professional television dramatist whose strange stories, from The Quatermass Experiment in 1963 to The Year Of The Sex Olympics in 1968 have sacred and stimulated audiences with outstanding success.

He is a tall, friendly, balding man with large, anxious, grey eyes. He lives in reassuring normality with his wife and two nice children (who are already writing curious stories, rather to their father's alarm) in a Victorian house overlooking Barnes Common. The room where Kneale thinks and works is at the top of the house, looking out at treetops and sky. A battered, bug-eyed creature with several legs and horns sits outside the door, as if on guard. It is a relic of Quatermass, and, significantly enough, today it has a positively old-world charm.

Kneale talks rapidly in tones of slight surprise at his own stream of ideas; they come pouring out, half-formed, as if their potential only strikes him as he speaks. His attitude seems to be one of amused horror at the possibilities proliferating in the world by the minute. His art is to isolate one or two, intensify them, project them, convert them to human terms, and confront us with the results, pleasant or not.

His new play, Wine Of India, takes place in the world of 2050. He presupposes that illness and death have been abolished, and that people can be maintained at a chosen age indefinitely, at their point of optimum performance. Society and the individual make a form of contract for a period of time, during which the individual is kept in peak condition and society gets the best out of him. What happens when his time runs out? This is what the play is about. "It's the opposite of The Sex Olympics, really," said Kneale. "It's another model of society - one of a number that can be designed". He picked up a large, gleaming set of earphones and put them on. Each earpiece had a little aerial sticking up like antennae. "Take me to your leader," he said obligingly. It turned out to be a Japanese stereo radio set. "You can walk around in a total cocoon of sound. A television version of this can't be far away. There will soon be some way to fix a visual image, maybe on the air ahead of you. Or it might be possible to by-pass the eye and put it straight in here" - tapping his head. Kneale's plays are more and more concerned with ideas, not apparatus. "Funny machinery doesn't mean a thing. The more a play is concerned with people, the less boring it'll be". Despite his ominous fantasies, Kneale does not seem like a haunted man. "The bomb may drop next week," he said cheerfully. "It's optimistic to assume that there'll be a future at all". (Radio Times, April 9, 1970 - Article by Anne Chisholm).

Synopsis : 2050: A celebration is organised, for an apparently middle-aged couple, in a world regulated from beginning to end for the contentment of its inhabitants.

Cast :
Annette Crosbie (Julie), Brian Blessed (Will), John Standing (Russ), Rosemary Nichols (Nita), Catherine Lacey (Bee), Ian Ogilvy (Sam), Donald Burton (Adam), David Munro (Pat), Judith Ellis (Nonie), Nicholas Young (Dod), Vicky Williams (Jonna), Glenn Williams (The Celebrity), Reg Whitehead (Mac), Alexandra Dane (Lexy), Neville Hughes (Dave) and Roger Ferry (Martin).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of fifty minutes and was transmitted from 9:20pm to 10:10pm.

Make-Up for this episode was provided by Jean McMillan. Costumes were provided by Catriona Tomalin. Lighting was supervised by Robert Wright. Script Editor for this episode was Shaun MacLoughlin.

Sovereign's Company
Transmitted : 22nd April 1970
Script : Don Shaw
Director : Alan Clarke

Publicity : The Game Of Dressing Up To Kill - Don Shaw talks about the play that was, he tells Gordon Burn, "mouldering in my mind for eighteen years": Within minutes of meeting Don Shaw, you know two things about him. He's crazy about football and he loves Repton. Repton is the small village near Derby where he lives quietly with his family, close to the old walls of the public school.

He has one of those faces that makes him often mistaken for other people. In the past, he's acted on the stage and in radio plays and, for a time, was a teacher of the deaf. Now he writes plays. The latest in a line that has included a trilogy for BBC-2's Thirty-Minute Theatre and several episodes for Z-Cars and Softly, Softly, is Sovereign's Company, the story of a boy from an army family with a long tradition of honour and distinction, who goes to a military academy as an officer cadet and finds himself temperamentally unsuited to the life. "This play," says Shaw, "has been mouldering in my mind for eighteen years". It was eighteen years ago, when he was only seventeen that he entered Sandhurst as a cadet. Seven months later he'd left. "Technically speaking, I was kicked out, but in a way this is what I wanted and I led them into it. You see, for me, the army was a kind of fixation. I saw Sandhurst in a rosy light and went there out of pure fantasy. This was dressing up, this was a young boy's dream. I can't really explain: I found myself there and it was a great shock. It was like being on another planet". He admits that "the main character, Andrew Cantfield is, in a sense, myself, and the play is autobiographical - a lot of the incidents are based on fact and experience". But there the parallels must end.

Unlike Cantfield, Shaw was a grammar-school boy of whom not very much was expected. "I based the play on a public-school character so that I could alienate myself and look at him instead of me; this keeps the issue on a strictly classless level. Also, I thought it was better to take somebody who, on the face of it, should be a great success and isn't, because failures are much more interesting than successes; you can identify with them".

Even though Don Shaw still has nightmares about it eighteen years later and sees the army today as "a fascist society," he is insistent that his play is not attacking the concept of military training or even the people that are involved in it. "I'm just analysing the military mind and the military conscience". He sees no point in attacking any existing institution because "no one can knock it down by writing a play. What I'm trying to do is to say, `Right, this is a soldier, he's trained to kill and it doesn't matter what he's trained to kill for". Individual guilt disappears with corporate identity. It's dangerous for a man to think too much. When people accept this, we will come to a better understanding of what war is all about". (Radio Times, April 16, 1970 - Article by Gordon Burn).


Cast :
Roland Culver (General Cantfield), Gareth Forwood (Andrew Cantfield), Norman Mitchell (Mr Dawkins), Margaret Lang (Mrs Dawkins), James Hazeldine (Alan Dawkins), Stephen Sheppard (Junior Under Officer Sanders), James Cosmo (Senior Under Officer Patterson), Chris Cunningham (The Chauffeur), David Rowlands (Dankworth-Lowe), Larry Dann (Hurt), Stephen Carter (The Nigerian Cadet), Clive Francis (Dexter), Oliver Cotton (Sender), John Wentworth (General Decamps), Lewis Wilson (CSM Larch), Norman Mann (Sergeant Liman), John Nettleton (Major Grace), Raymond Adamson (RSM Power), Graham Lines (Captain Lawrence), Moray Watson (Major Hacker), Ron Conrad (The Youth) and Laurence Hardy (Colonel Frayne).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Fight Arranger for this episode was Peter Diamond. Drill Instructor for this episode was RSM Don Mason. Film Cameraman was Peter Hall. Sound was supervised by Dennis Pancheen. Film Editor for this episode was Brian Keene.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast under the Play For Today banner on April 15th, 1971.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Party Games
Transmitted : 29th April 1970
Script : Hugh Whitemore
Director : Roderick Graham

Synopsis : A German businessman develops an obsessive passion for a girl he picks up in an East End pub. But she, and her brother, are playing their own game…

Cast :
Frederick Jaeger (Walter), Eileen Atkins (Eileen), Derek Smith (Ted), John Nettleton (Patterson), Nancie Jackson (Mrs Patterson), Roger Mutton (Watkins), Paul Angelis (The First Tugman), Raymond Armstrong (The Second Tugman), Frank Seton (The Third Tugman), John Hulbert (The First Waiter), Wilfred Grove (The Second Waiter), Roy Pearce (The Barman), Tom McCall (The Pianist), Joby Blanshard (The Third Waiter) and Joyce McConnel (The Prostitute).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:45pm to 11:00pm.

This episode had originally premiered on BBC-2 before enjoying a repeat transmission on BBC-1 as part of The Wednesday Play series.

Music for this episode was provided by Bob Leaper.

Emma's Time
Transmitted : 13th May 1970
Script : David Mercer
Director : Alan Bridges

Publicity :
"Why I Could Never Be Like Emma" - Michele Dotrice, who stars in this week's Wednesday Play by David Mercer, talks to Lewis Nkosi: In Emma's Time, the last play in David Mercer's television trilogy, Michele Dotrice plays mistress to a celebrated left-wing novelist: the boozy Nobel Prizewinner, Robert Kelvin, witness of great socialist revolutions and hoarder of rich memories of friendships, political persecutions, and private defeats.

As the student who rescues the famous author drunk at a Cambridge party, who then shacks up with him until he expires from too much booze and hard living, Michele Dotrice must have been an inspired choice. She is small, bright, very articulate about her work. At twenty-two she looks the kind of girl many novelists would like to have around but rarely do, in fact, except in the fantasies of their own novels. With two years of Royal Shakespeare Company behind her and such glittering acting roles on television as Dorothea in Middlemarch and the youngest of the Three Sisters in the recent BBC Television production of Chekhov's play, Michele brings to the role of Emma a superb and chilly confidence.

She speaks as though she is almost desperately awed by Emma. "She's a very strange girl," she says, "and certainly for me the most challenging role I've ever played, because when one approaches a part one always approaches it from outside, and you sort of look for covers-up like accents or some sort of characterisation". Did she think she resembled Emma in any way? "No," she said very firmly. "I'm much more out-going than Emma. Emma has this marvellous sort of facilty of being the observer and standing on the outside and being able to look in from outside. I haven't got that sort of confidence. In a strange way, Emma does have great emotional feeling, but only with this one man. This is why once he's dead, she has this strange love affair which is sort of emotional and erratic with Mark, the interviewer, who comes to find out about her and what's happening to her now that Robert Kelvin has died. And she only does it to see if she can feel once again".

She recalled how Mercer developed the idea of Emma from the seed of his first play: "It was quite interesting the way it happened," she said. "After I'd finished On The Eve Of Publication (the first play in the trilogy) David Mercer got on to me and said: `Come to lunch, I've got an idea'. So I went out with fear and trembling at the thought of having lunch with him. But he's a charming and delightful man. It was fascinating to hear his ideas of what he wanted to do with Emma, her life after Kelvin died, what she did in order to discover more about this man she lived with. When we started rehearsing Emma we, in fact, didn't have a completed script until after a week of rehearsals because Mercer was out in Paris and posting it off, and it was delivered by jet - and coming straight from the rehearsal room we'd sort of start on the next scene. But after a week I suddenly got the completed script. I went to have some fittings, and I sat there and started to read it. And I suddenly noticed there were tears dropping on the page. I thought this is ridiculous! But you see, David Mercer has this marvellous ability of making one deeply moved". (Radio Times, May 7, 1970 - Article by Lewis Nkosi).

Synopsis : Robert Kelvin, author-hero of On The Eve Of Publication, is dead and Emma, who lived with him for the last two years of his life, is involved with a television film about him. This is the third play by award-winning writer David Mercer to feature the character of Robert Kelvin; the first was On The Eve Of Publication, when he was played by Leo McKern, and the second The Cellar And The Almond Tree.

Cast :
Michele Dotrice (Emma), Andrew Keir (Robert Kelvin), Peter Vaughan (Sladek), Ian Holm (Mark Lang), John Quentin (Michael), Norman Scace (Arnold Crail), Pauline Yates (Jane Wooller), Elizabeth Kentish (Emma's Mother), Jack may (Emma's Father), Mary Merrall (Kelvin's Mother), John Sharp (Charlie) and Kay Newman (Ruth).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of eighty minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:30pm.

Lighting for this episode was supervised by Dennis Channon. Script Editor was Ann Scott.

Emma's Time was the third and final instalment in a three-part story which had started with On The Eve Of Publication, transmitted on November 27th, 1968, and which was followed up by the sequel, The Cellar And The Almond Tree, transmitted on March 4th, 1970. All three plays featured a selected group of characters, and primarily concerned novelist Robert Kelvin.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on April 6th, 1972.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Chariot Of Fire
Transmitted : 20th May 1970
Script : Tony Parker
Director : James Ferman

Publicity : Tony Parker's Wednesday Play - about a man who interferes with little boys - is a plea for understanding. He Tells Anne Chisholm "Most People Will Talk If Someone Will Listen": For his new Wednesday Play, Tony Parker has chosen about the trickiest subject imaginable: sex crime. His last play, Mrs Lawrence Will Look After It, dealt with the pitfalls of amateur child minding; he is perhaps best known for his series of books based on tapes made after months spent talking to different types of criminals, in and out of prison. It hardly needs saying, then, that Tony Parker is not primarily an entertainer, though his work is always fascinating.

This play, Chariot Of Fire, is about a housewife who through her visits to a prison becomes involved in trying to help a man who has spent twenty years of his life locked away for sexual offences against small boys. The character is based on a man Tony Parker knows well; he met him while working on a book about sex offenders, The Twisting Lane. One of the greatest impediments to public understanding, let alone sympathy, for this kind of offender is that we tend to react as if all sex crimes are equally horrifying; in fact there is the widest possible range of offences. This man is not violent, sexually or in any other way; as the play brings out, he is impotent. Tony Parker is a slight, quiet man, who thinks before he speaks. He manages to convey intense interest in human nature without seeming morbid, and universal sympathy without sentimentality. It is not hard to see why criminals trust him and talk to him with such astounding freedom. Of the sex offender, he says: "It's considered the worst offence among prisoners: this type of man is a prisoner within a prison. The point of the play is that this man is a human being; that all that has happened to him so far is that he has done twenty years inside. He is doing a life sentence in instalments. People don't want to think about the subject at all; they'd much rather just punish the offender. The more people realise that criminals of any kind are human beings the less punitive they will feel". Of the man on whom the character in the play is based, he says: "He is a close friend. He's scrupulously honest and upright as a citizen; he's an extremely courteous, kind, honest and considerate person. He's a very fine man. Yet he is execrated by the community because he commits this particular offence".


Parker found the work he did on the book about sex offenders particularly demanding. "It was the most shattering to me personally to do. Here were eight people, all of whom had committed sexual offences, who don't talk about what they've done even in prison, and here they were talking for hours with great frankness and honesty about themselves. They seemed to me to be among the most dignified people I'd ever met in my life. They could no more understand by they did what they did than we can". In the play, a policeman makes a point that most psychologists make. A child can suffer far more from the sense of outrage of his parents and the authorities at what has happened to him (and from subsequent intensive questioning) than from the event itself. "What is needed," says Tony Parker, "is understanding". How did Tony Parker become involved in the world of prisons and the task of bridging society's self-imposed barriers between the criminal and the rest? "I used to be a prison visitor".

In the early 1950s he was a publisher's representative travelling the country with no thoughts of making contact with prisoners, let alone writing about them. It was the Craig and Bentley case in 1953 that suddenly made him feel he must do what he could. In that case two boys were charged with the murder of a policeman - the younger one, who had fired the shot, was too young to be executed, Bentley, just old enough, was hanged. So Parker became a prison visitor. But after four or five years he came up against a regulation which at that time prevented prison visitors keeping up contact with offenders after release. "I was thrown out," he says, savouring the irony. Parker's work requires great patience, as well as great sensitivity. He has long preparatory talks over weeks and months with the people he interviews; sometimes he has known them for as long as three or four years. "Most people will talk," he says, "if someone will listen. Most people don't listen". His respect for them is deep and genuine. "I'm quite sure I could never be as honest about myself". (Radio Times, May 14, 1970 - Article by Anne Chisholm).

Synopsis : Stanley Wood is a man who interferes with little boys - an outcast in society and even in prison. Would you invite him into your home to try to help him? This play by Tony Parker is a sympathetic and understanding story of a Prison Visitor who believes that no one is beyond helping. "Stanley Wood" is a real person. His name is different and he has just been sent to prison again, for six years.

Cast :
Rosemary Leach (Shelley Mitchell), Jimmy Gardner (Stanley Wood), Charles Tingwell (John Mitchell), Michael Wynne (Sergeant Cooper), Stephen Yardley (Police Constable Bradley), Robin Hopwood ("Spider" Webb), David Kearney (Michael Starkie), Craig Maitland (Robert Mitchell), Richard Reynalds (Mark Mitchell), Betty Cooper (Mrs Lee), Richard Butler (The Prison Governor), Ronald Mayer (The Prison Officer), George Selway (Garfield), Frank Mills (The Prison Gate Officer), Michael Turner (The Probation Officer), Peter French (The Solicitor), George Day (The Sergeant), John Scott (Chief Inspector Sands), Michael Bradshaw, Lee Chamberlain, Kevin Chippendale, Keith McNally and John Trayhorn.

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

Sound for this episode was supervised by Chick Anthony. Lighting was supervised by Robert Wright.

This episode enjoyed a repeat broadcast on July 1st, 1971.

This episode is one of only twelve episodes from the ninth and final season of The Wednesday Play which still exists.

Wind Versus Polygamy
Transmitted : 27th May 1970
Script : Obi Egbuna
Director : Naomi Capon

Synopsis : This is a gentle play which deals with the changing world of Africa. Chief Ozuomba wants to fight the new law about polygamy; he is provided with an ideal weapon when Counsellor Ogidi and Mr Madu come to his court both wanting to marry Elina.

Cast :
Earl Cameron (Chief Ozuomba), Gordon Jackson (Father Joseph), Charles Hyatt (Ogidi), Clifton Jones (The Prosecuting Counsel), Louiza Sherman (Elina), Lionel Ngakane (Ofodile), Rudolph Walker (Madu), Willie Jonah (Jerome), Elroy Josephs (The Defence Counsel), Horace James (The Clerk Of The Court) and Bloke Modisane (The Judge).

Notes & Trivia :
This episode had a running time of seventy-five minutes and was transmitted from 9:10pm to 10:25pm.

This play was originally transmitted on BBC-2 before enjoying a repeat transmission on BBC-1 as part of The Wednesday Play.

AFTER THE BOMB:
The War Game
Transmitted : 31st July 1985
Script : Peter Watkins
Director : Peter Watkins
Producer: Peter Watkins

Publicity : "A Terrifying Power" is how Leonard Cheshire describes the unleashing of the A-bomb. He takes part in a week of programmes - including the first television screening of "The War Game" - to mark the fortieth anniversary of that event. Jim Crace reports: On Tuesday 6 August the atomic bomb - and the nuclear debate which so absorbed and obsessed post-war politics - is forty years old. There is another anniversary to "celebrate", too: it is twenty years since the BBC, amid much public hand-wringing and wrangling, failed to broadcast Peter Wilkins' post-holocaust film, The War Game.

It was, they said in 1965 and maintained for two decades, "too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting". The scenes of irreparable destruction in a fictional Tunbridge Wells and, particularly, the image of a revolver-toting policeman executing the injured, were judged by former BBC Director General Sir Hugh Greene (as recently as 1982) to be "so terrifying that old people sitting alone might go out and throw themselves under a bus". But the film was not suppressed entirely; it has been shown to an audience now estimated to exceed six million in cinemas, meeting rooms and school halls. Unilateralists describe it as one of the most successful recruiting sergeants for CND and sections of the "pro-bomb" lobby also welcome it for showing what could happen to citizens who don't "Protect And Survive". It's clear The War Game - unbroadcast - has played a more pivotal and haunting role in the nuclear dissarmament debate than if Sir Hugh had approved its screening in 1965.

Peter Watkins' own feeling is that the media - television in particular - have "minimised, trivialised, fragmented and diffused all discussion about nuclear weapons over the past twenty years". But, as the films to be broadcast during this week's commemoration of the Hiroshima and Nagaski bombs will show, television has, in more recent years, accepted the thankless milestone of investigating and illustrating the effects of a nuclear explosion. From dramatisations such as the American The Day After to unblinkered documentaries such as Q.E.D's A Guide To Armageddon, Jonathan Dimbleby's two documentaries for Yorkshire Television and BBC Bristol's On The Eighth Day, television in Britain has fuelled, focused and vivified the nuclear debate. The bleakest - and possibly the most accurate - film was Threads, which charted the post-bomb "survival" of two Sheffield families.


According to its producer-director Mick Jackson, the film attempted to dispel the unfounded optimism of some war strategists. "In addition to physical injury there would be depression, disorientation and prolonged apathy," he says. "Even after the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the Allies poured in money to reconstruct those cities there was no psychological improvement. The War Game is historically important, but it did not show the full effects [of a nuclear disaster]. It is a powerful film, but it has become a period piece". There can be few adult viewers who could now repeat the claim, made at the time The War Game was shelved, that "Britain would soon be on its feet after a nuclear attack". One man who has not been entirely satisfied by television's presentation of a post-nuclear world is Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, whose charitable foundation operates two-hundred-and-forty homes for the disabled in forty-fiive countries. "Those television films underestimate the horror of nuclear war, simply by showing survivors," he says.

Group Captain Cheshire has seen the effects of nuclear war close up: in 1945 he was one of the two British observers at the atomic bombing of Japan and in Nagasaki - Return Journey he goes back to the city he once saw destroyed. His experiences have caused him to adopt a stance on the nuclear issue which many might count as callous, while others applaud his realism. In August 1944, after flying over one hundred missions above Germany with Bomber Command, the twenty-seven-year-old Cheshire (a Victoria Cross winner) was suddenly grounded and finished up in Washington as one of the officers planning British support for the United States invasion of Japan. It was an enterprise that offered a prospect of three million casualties.

Then on 18 July 1945 Cheshire was summoned by Field Marshal Lord Maitland-Wilson and was let into "the best kept secret of the war". "He told me," says Cheshire, "that the Americans had successfully tested an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert and that its use was being considered against Japan. I was sworn to secrecy, warned that I should expect to be followed wherever I went by intelligence agents, and informed that I had been chosen as one of the two British observers on the bombing mission. I realised that it was a turning point of history - and that for some inexplicable reason I was part of it. I had to report back to Churchill on the mechanics of getting the bomb on target and the implications for the future of air warfare. I knew it would be a catalytic experience". It was an experience, however, that Cheshire almost missed. The Americans "had no room for the Britishers" aboard the B29 Superfortress bomber that killed seventy-eight-thousand people, gravely wounded another ninety-thousand and destroyed two-thirds of the city of Hiroshima at 8:15am on 6 August. When space was found for him on the Nagasaki mission on 9 August, his pilot missed a rendezvous point. Cheshire was fifty miles away when, just after 11:00am, the lead aircraft, "Bock's Car", found a "window" in the cloud and dropped its bomb. Group Captain Cheshire's recollections of the following few minutes are expressed graphically, methodically and with surprising emotional reticence.


"There was a flash," he says. "And then we saw the explosion. There was a ball of fire, two-thousand feet above the ground and half-a-mile in diameter. The fire died out and became a boiling cloud which grew bigger and rocketed up at, I guess, thirty-thousand feet per minute. It settled at sixty-thousand feet above the city, poised on the top of an immense revolving column. On the ground the column fanned out into an almost black pyramid which was drawing dust and heat and rubble up into the air. And little fires were springing up around the periphery. The sheer heat had set fire to the wooden houses of the town. The whole sight was finely sculpted and symmetrical and therefore gave a terrifying sense of control and power".

Cheshire remains certain that this second bomb was neither "unnecessary nor hard-hearted". "It was the only way," he says. "It felt too one-sided - but it had to be done. As I looked at that cloud engulfing Nagasaki my only conclusion could be that the nature of war had changed forever. The bomb was saying, `You can't fight me'. I began to wonder what had become of the people on the ground. The bomb had taken sixty-thousand lives. But there had been so much killing already in the war that I simply could not absorb the immensity of it. The war was now over, but there was no elation". Group Captain Cheshire reported back to Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who had recently defeated Churchill in the general election. He described the atomic bomb as "the decisive weapon" which Britain should possess if it wished to avoid a third world war. And, with a chilling prescience that did not however impress Attlee, he predicted "star wars": "It's not the atomic bomb that counts, I told him. Anyone can build that, given time. What counts is the delivery system. Whatever happens, get Britain into the space programme!".

What makes Cheshire's views on the atomic bombings unattractive in some circles is his scepticism about fall-out injuries. "Much exaggerated, I think. Remember, I have lived and worked with disabled people, including those still carrying the physical and psychological damage of the war and the concentration camps. I am not sure that I see the difference between being deformed by fall-out or a bomb-splinter". He maintains a cogent and dogged adherence to the notion that the atomic bombings "saved more lives than they took" and that the bomb liberated the Japanese from war as much as it liberated the Allies. "The Japanese could end the war with honour," he argues. "It allowed Emperor Hirohito to say, `"This is not surrender to a human enemy. The Home Army has not been defeated'". This was not a view, however, that was well received in Nagasaki when Group Captain Cheshire visited it for the BBC film.


"They wouldn't allow me to attend their peace ceremony," he says. "Instead I spent an hour quietly in the old Catholic church. I prayed and thought of Nagasaki then and its implications for our future. I felt sorrow and regret. But I still cannot see how one can construct a moral argument to show that it was better to lose three million lives on the beaches of Japan rather than several hundred thousand with atom bombs. I do not want to evade responsibility for what happened or hide behind my title of `observer'. As a young man, all I wanted was peace, yet I became a bomber pilot and flew with the atom bomb. How can you explain that? All I know is that going back to Nagasaki for the making of this film has allowed me to close a chapter in my life which has remained open for forty years".

The After The Bomb programmes are: Nagasaki - Return Journey, Monday 9:25pm, BBC-1; The First Forty Years, Tuesday, 10:15pm, BBC-2; The War Game, Wednesday, 9:30pm, BBC-2; Threads, Thursday, 9:25pm, BBC-1; Facing The Future, Friday, 10:00pm, BBC-2. (Radio Times, July 27, 1985 - Article by Jim Crace).

Synopsis : Ludovic Kennedy introduces the third of five programmes to mark the fortieth anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tonight: The War Game. The story of a nuclear attack on Britain in the 1960s. Until this week's special series of programmes - After The Bomb - the BBC felt unable to transmit this disturbing film in isolation. Peter Watkins' controversial 1965 drama, made with the scientific facts available at the time, envisages the consequences of nuclear war for the United Kingdom. Using amateur actors it follows a deterioration in international relations; Russia seals off Berlin and NATO prepares for war. Britain begins to evacuate its large towns and cities. One morning, with little warning, the first bomb drops in Kent and we witness the terrible effect of a nuclear explosion in a civilian area and the resulting breakdown of society…

Notes & Trivia :
NB: This episode had a running time of fifty minutes and was transmitted from 9:30pm to 10:20pm.

Photography for this episode was undertaken by Peter Bartlett. Film Editor f was Michael Bradsell.

This episode was postponed from its originally scheduled transmission date during the second season of The Wednesday Play in 1965 (on BBC-1), and was re-allocated to BBC Television's themed After The Bomb season some twenty years later on BBC-2.

The Times newspaper introduced the episode as follows: "The body fluid flows straight out from your raw intestines and you literally dry out". You have waited twenty years for tonight's film, unless, as a recent university graduate, you saw it every other Thursday for three years. Peter Watkins' The War Game (BBC-2, 9:30pm), after two decades concealed behind Aunty's apron, is now considered safe to be shown, sandbagged around with the other items in the BBC's After The Bomb week.

Fans of the film may fear that transmission is an admission of its inefficacy; that it is believed to be so old, so black and white that, to show it now will no longer hurt. Not so; it is brilliant and terrifying - better, I think, than Threads, the BBC's 1984 bomb surprise, about which Peter Davalle will write here tomorrow. Of two convincing and intelligent fictions, The War Game seems to me the greater, producing a single image - a bucket of wedding rings, all that survives of lives lost in the nuclear holocaust - more eloquent than even the milk bottles melting on blast-furnace steps in Threads.

The impact of Watkins' work is heightened by the factor which might seem likely to date and weaken it - the grainy black and white in which he filmed it. Just as Belsen, grim amid the gleaming colour of Beirut and game shows, is a warning from the past of something which must never blight the future, so the nuclear-bombing of Britain plays the trick, to today's eyes, of seeming something that took place. (The Times, July 31, 1985).


This episode was released on Region 2 DVD by the BFI on January 27th, 2003.

Please note synopsis are taken from the original Radio Times listings for the day of transmission.

© Matthew Lee, 2004