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A weekly classic TV play

May 11, 2017

The Weekly Play: Unnatural Causes - Ladies' Night (1986)

Posted on May 11, 2017 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Ladies Night

Blog god Nigel Kneale might not immediately strike you as a feminist writer. Or even one with especially feminist leanings. It's not like 1984, Year of the Sex Olympics or any of the Quatermass stories are jam-packed with strong female characters and there's barely a female lead to be found.

Not until the 70s, that is. Just as the UK was rediscovering feminism at the time, so Nigel was awaking to the potential of female characters. Squint a bit at The Stone Tape or Murrain and you can see that the female characters have been elevated to co-leads, and some of his plays for Beasts had actual female leads and were concerned with female issues, with Baby and During Barty's Party dealing with wives' feelings of isolation when their husbands are unable to help them.

By the 80s, Kneale is becoming more overt about his new concerns. 1981's Kinvig doesn't seem at first like a feminist work, but Kinvig's ridiculous fantasies about frequent shopper Prunella Gee are a reasonable satire of the male gaze in science-fiction. 

By 1986, he's actually quite explicit about it. Ladies' Night, which aired in 1986 as part of ITV's Unnatural Causes anthology series (you can probably guess what each episode had in common), hints at its themes in the title. It features a tradition-bound gentlemen's club that's thrown into chaos when women are allowed in during 'ladies' night' in order to raise money and attract new members. However, one member resents the intrusion of women so much that when she starts mocking the club's antediluvian nature, he resorts to murder.

Directed by Herbert Wise and starring Alfred Burke, Bryan Pringle, Ronald Pickup, Fiona Walker and Nigel Stock, it's only half an hour long and it's this week's Weekly Play. Unfortunately, it's not available for embedding, but it's over here on YouTube.

May 10, 2017

What TV's on at the BFI in June 2017? Including Penda's Fen and Architecture on TV

Posted on May 10, 2017 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The BFI has something of a rum concoction for its June 2017 programme. The main season is dedicated to architecture on TV, with a whole host of documentaries from the archives, as well as a Q&A with the rather marvellous Jonathan Meades.

But the other entry in the calendar is an entire Saturday dedicated to former TMINE Wednesday Play, Penda's Fen. There's a showing of the play in the evening, but the rest of the day is dedicated to a Penda's Fen symposium, 'Child Be Strange', that will include a Q&A with the writer David Rudkin. Slightly odd order that, so you might want to watch the DVD a couple of times first.

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March 31, 2017

What TV's on at the BFI in May 2017? Including Fassbinder: Television Pioneer and the Trevor Griffiths season

Posted on March 31, 2017 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Do you like playwright Trevor Griffiths? Do you like German TV? Then the BFI has a season and a single TV show for you in May.

'Fassbinder: Television Pioneer' looks at the German film director's TV work, while 'Interventions: The Television Plays of Trevor Griffiths' covers the likes of Food For Ravens, All Good Men, Oi For England, Through the Night and Country, as well as an episode of Fall of Eagles. Details after the jump.

But first, here's that Fall of Eagles ep, which looks at the origins of the Bolshevik/Menshevik split, as well as this week's 'Wednesday Play (on a Friday)', All Good Men, in which a Marxist son confronts his moderate Labour father when he accepts a peerage - Dennis Potter described it as having 'some of the sharpest, most telling and intelligent speeches ever heard on television'.

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