The Wednesday Play: Peter McDougall’s Just Your Luck (1972)

Peter McDougall is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s best modern playwrights. The BAFTA award-winning writer was born in Greenock and began work when he was 14 in the shipyards with one ‘Billy Connolly’. However, he moved to London to escape the harsh conditions and while working as a house painter, met Colin Welland, who encouraged him to write a play about his experiences. Just Another Saturday was the result, but although it impressed the BBC’s Play For Today team, the story about the annual Orange order march in Glasgow was deemed too sensitive for the time and had to wait another three years before it would made (with Billy Connolly).

However, the team encouraged him to write another, more intimate play, which he duly did, basing Just Your Luck on his sister’s wedding. It stars Lesley Mackie as Alison, a young protestant woman living in a Scottish tenement who gets the chance to escape her lot thanks to her relationship with footballer Joe (Joseph Greig). However, frustrated with the time he spends training, she takes up with the impoverished catholic Alec (David Hayman) and ends up getting pregnant.

Directed by Mike Newell, the play was widely proclaimed as the most promising debut by a playwright since John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and is today’s Wednesday Play. If you like it, remember to support the makers by buying it on DVD, and to try out a previous Wednesday Play of McDougall’s, Just a Boy’s Game.