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The Weekly Play

The Wednesday Play: Second City Firsts – Mike Leigh’s The Permissive Society (1975)

The Permissive Society

England’s second city is Birmingham. You may not have known that, suspecting that Manchester should hold that title, and now that a big chunk of the BBC has moved to Salford, in terms of televisual output, you might be right.

But back in the 60s and 70s, BBC Birmingham and its Pebble Mill Studios were prodigious sources of television output, including, of course, the famous lunchtime show Pebble Mill (At One).

As well as contributing many programmes with little fanfare to the overall BBC output, including many entries to the Play For Today strand, between 1973 and 1978, BBC Birmingham had its own higher profile play strand: Second City Firsts. As the name suggests, as well showing off Birmingham and the Pebble Mill Studios, it was also intended to provide an outlet for first-time writers, with 42 writers contributing to the nine series of half-hour plays.

The most notable of these were Alan Bleasdale and Mike Leigh, and today’s Wednesday Play is Leigh’s Permissive Society. A short piece videotaped entirely in the studio, it features three characters: a couple – Les (Bob Mason) and Carol (Veronica Roberts) – and Les’s sister Yvonne (Rachel Davies). Les and Yvonne are both abrasive, and over the course of the evening, Carol realises she hasn’t much in common with her boyfriend. However, it turns out that the reasons for Les’s behaviour aren’t quite what they seem.

By turns cringe-worthy, funny and moving, Permissive Society highlights the fact that despite sex seemingly being everywhere in ‘the permissive society’, few people were yet very comfortable with it, let alone talking about it. It also includes Leigh’s trademark use of improvisation in developing the script, something that confused the BBC2 announcer enough to proclaim it an ‘unscripted play’ when it first aired.

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What TV’s on at the BFI in February 2015?

It’s time for our regular look at the TV that the BFI is showing, this time in February 2015. And it’s a two-prong approach from the BFI this month, with a series of previews of forthcoming TV shows on the one hand – Channel 4’s Indian Summers, BBC One’s Poldark and ITV’s Arthur & George – and on the other, a series of little-repeated plays that fair puts The Wednesday Play in the shade and includes Alan Bleasdale’s first TV drama Early To Bed.

Continue reading “What TV’s on at the BFI in February 2015?”

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News: Ant-Man trailer, Covert Affairs cancelled, two new ABC Family shows, Felix Faust on Constantine + more

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  • Teaser trailer for Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man, with Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly et al
  • Trailer for Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill, with Ethan Hawke
  • Trailer for The Lazarus Effect, with Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover et al
  • Trailer for David O Russell’s Accidental Love with Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tracy Morgan et al

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Weekly Wonder Woman

Weekly Wonder Woman: Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three #14

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Well, I’m back after the Christmas break and there’s been a whole load of comics released over that time, including Wonder Woman, Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman, that I wasn’t able to cover. However, for the sake of my sanity, rather than try to review them all now, I’ll try to do a load of 2-for-1s and review each in combination with its following issue, whenever that happens to be.

That means that this week, I’ve only one comic to cast my glance over, namely Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three. If you recall, this is the alternative DC universe that sees Superman take a strange turn following Lois Lane’s death and try to rid the world of evil by imposing a quasi-fascist regime. In this, he’s supported by some other superheroes, opposed by others. The result? Lots of former friends and enemies kicking and even killing each other in preparation for the ‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’ video game, where lots of former friends and enemies kick and even kill each other.

Over the past few issues of ‘Year Three’, the Injustice alternative universe has taken a slight turn for the odder, since it’s the year the magic-based superheroes step into action. And right now, thanks to John Constantine and an unnamed ally, Superman has fallen into a deep, deep sleep where he’s in an alternative to the alternative universe, in which Lois Lane is still alive and Bruce Wayne has killed the Joker and turned himself him.

This issue, we see how things have evolved after a few decades in Superman’s dream world. He and Lois have a grown-up daughter called Lara; and Bruce Wayne is out of jail and grown a moustache. And Wonder Woman? She’s secretary general of the United Nations and married – you’ll never guess to whom.

Secretary General Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman and Batman are married

Yes, she’s only gone and married Bruce Wayne.

It’s a slightly questionable issue, as per most of Injustice: Gods Among Us, with Superman’s dream world apparently one in which he never commits his own crimes and instead gets his best friend to do it for him and then go to jail. It’s also one where he thinks Batman would be happier with Diana than with Selina Kyle and hasn’t noticed that Wonder Woman (in both the regular Injustice and nu52 universes) would be happier with him. But at least everyone’s happy in it for a change.

Trivia lovers will note that Superman is now wearing his Kingdom Come costume – that’s the future alternative DC universe in which Superman and Wonder Woman end up getting married and having a child, and which is currently being referenced in Superman/Wonder Woman. Is this important? I don’t know.

Those same trivia lovers will also note that while Lara is, of course, Superman’s mum’s name, it was also the name of Superman and Wonder Woman’s daughter in Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. In that series, Lara was keen that Superman take over the world, whereas here, she’s the opposite.

Again, I have no idea if there are deliberate messages here or mere shout-outs, but the issue should please both the Clois and Briana fans, anyway, even if it’s all a dream.

Rating: 3/5

Disclaimer: Owing to the small fortune it would take to buy every single DC comic each week, this is not a guaranteed rundown of all the comics that feature Wonder Woman. If you know of any I’ve missed, email me or leave a comment below and I’ll cover them the following week