1970s Angels Are So Few BBC Dennis Potter Only Make Believe Play For Today The Wednesday Play Writers

‘Tender Contempt’: Dennis Potter’s Love-Hate Relationship with Play for Today

by John Cook ‘The television play is virtually the last place on the box where the individual voice and the personal vision is central to the experience.’[1] ‘Play for Today !  Just for today !… Something easy, undemanding.  It’s all part of the commercial !  It’s all “pass the time”‘ ! How do we reconcile […]

1970s Actors BBC David Edgar Patti Love Play For Today Writers

Play for Today: Baby Love

By Tom May Written by David Edgar, directed by Barry Davis and produced by Kenith Trodd. Broadcast on BBC1 at 9.25pm on Thursday 7 November 1974 David Edgar’s Baby Love is a significant addition to the Play for Today strand; it is an edgy, archetypally ‘underdog’-centred drama that addresses difficult, emotive issues. Directed by Barry […]

1970s BBC Douglas Livingstone Irene Shubik Nigel Stock Play For Today Writers

Play for Today: I Can’t See My Little Willie

By Simon Farquhar Written by Douglas Livingstone, directed by Alan Clarke and produced by Irene Shubik. Broadcast on BBC1 at 9.20 pm on 19th November 1970. The stately BBC1 continuity announcer Peter Bolgar fell shy of introducing the play by name. However, despite its knavish title, I Can’t See My Little Willie proved to be […]

1970s Alan Bridges BBC Dennis Potter Directors Play For Today Writers

Play for Today: Traitor

By Joseph Oldham Written by Dennis Potter, directed by Alan Bridges and produced by Graeme McDonald. Broadcast on BBC1 at 9.20 pm on Thursday 14 October 1971. ‘Exiled in Moscow’, declared the front cover of the Radio Times (9-15 October 1971), heralding the return of Play for Today for its second series. The main image […]

1960s 1970s 1980s Actors BBC BBC Scotland Billy Smart Douglas Camfield Maurice Roëves Sutherland's Law

Maurice Roëves (1937-2020)

I had the good fortune to interview the actor Maurice Roëves (who has died at the age of 83) on two occasions. Maurice had an extraordinarily prolific 55-year career in film, theatre and especially television, the span and range of which (“beginning with an episode of Doctor Finlay’s Casebook in 1966 and concluding with a […]

Armchair Theatre BBC Doctor Who Eric Paice Malcolm Hulke Terrance Dicks Writers

Doctor Who and the Communist : the work and politics of Malcolm Hulke

By Michael Herbert ‘In writing you’re always looking for conflict…’ Malcolm Hulke ‘To my mind the basic problem is that writers are by their nature back-room-minded introverts and yet, in the publicity jungle, they find themselves pitted against an army of highly extroverted actors and actresses.  I don’t blame promotion people at all for taking the […]

1970s Alan Cooke BBC BBC drama George Cole Irene Shubik John Osborne Play For Today Radio Times

Play for Today: The Right Prospectus

By Simon Farquhar Written by John Osborne, directed by Alan Cooke and produced by Irene Shubik. Broadcast on BBC1 at 9.20pm on 22 October 1970. The Long Distance Piano Player, broadcast on 15 October 1970, was the first of the new season of television plays broadcast under the title of Play for Today.  However, it […]

1970s 1980s BBC BBC drama BBC English Regions Drama BBC Pebble Mill Black actors Black TV Writers Directors Gay drama John Hill Lesbian drama Northern Ireland Play For Today Radio Times Regional Drama Scotland Writers

Play for Today at 50

Along with Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play, Play for Today constitutes one of the most important series of British television drama. Beginning on BBC1 on Thursday 15 October 1970, it continued until 1984, running to over 300 individual plays and regularly commanding audiences of several millions. Launched as a successor to The Wednesday Play […]

BBC Events John Hill Northern Ireland Play For Today Stewart Parker Writers

Play for Today at 50 at Belfast Film Festival

A short season of Plays for Today, curated by John Hill, for the Belfast Film Festival that was scheduled for April 2020 but, sadly, cancelled in March. Play for Today was launched on BBC1 in October 1970 and ran until 1984, commanding audiences of several millions. It is generally recognised to be a hugely important […]

1950s 1960s 1970s BBC BBC drama Gilchrist Calder Producers Tony Garnett Troy Kennedy Martin

Tony Garnett (1936-2020)

Following the death of Tony Garnett, on 12 January 2020, obituary writers and those paying tribute to him understandably focused on his hugely influential career as a radical television producer, sometimes noting that he had begun his career as an actor in series such as An Age of Kings (BBC, 1960), Emergency – Ward 10 […]