What TV’s on at the BFI in January 2017? Including Sherlock, Abigail’s Party and Nuts in May

Gosh, 2017 came round quickly, didn’t it? Yes, already, we’re looking at what the BFI is showing in January next year. Two big things:

  1. A tiny, tiny Sherlock season. Only one episode in fact. But it’s a new one. Maybe some of the cast might even be attending
  2. An Aliston Steadman season. Quite a big one, since includes the likes of Abigail’s Party, Nuts in May, Pasmore, Girl and Virtuoso, as well as Alan Bleasdale’s first TV drama, Early To Bed.

Details after the jump, although you might want to listen to a bit of Demis Roussos first.

Monday 2nd Janary
17:50 NFT2
Play for Today: Nuts in May

BBC 1976. Dir Mike Leigh. With Alison Steadman, Roger Sloman, Anthony O’Donnell. 82min
Funny and affectionately ironic,  this early film in Leigh’s career already reveals a fascination with social hierarchies. Keith (Sloman) leads a highly structured existence, controlling all those around him, including his child-like partner Candice Marie, one of Steadman’s most brilliantly observed iconic creations. When other campers arrive and won’t conform to Keith’s rigid rules trouble is inevitable!

Thursday 5th January
18:15 NFT1
Play for Today: Abigail’s Party

BBC 1977. Dir Mike Leigh. With Alison Steadman, Tim Stern, Janine Duvitski, John Salthouse, Harriet Reynolds. 102min
Beginning life at the Hampstead Theatre, Abigail’s Party remains one of the finest examples of Leigh’s improvisatory technique, creating characters that seem to sum up the very essence of 1970s suburbia. Now boasting a post-ironic chic, the film continues to be feted today as a slice of social history and as pure comic genius. In Beverly, Steadman created the defining role of her career, delivering lines that have now become part of the national psyche. So, another cheesy-pineapple one? Joint ticket available with Alison Steadman in conversation (see 20:30)

20:30 NFT1
Alison Steadman in Conversation

TRT 80min
We offer you a very special opportunity to hear one of the UK’s finest character actors discussing her remarkable career. We’ll examine the impact Steadman’s characters have had in popular TV series such as Fat Friends, Pride and Prejudice and Gavin and Stacey alongside many of the TV plays in our season, illustrated with clips. There will also be the chance for you to ask Ms Steadman your own questions, and gain valuable insight into the craft of screen acting.
Joint ticket available with Abigail’s Party £16, concs £12 (Members pay £1.70 less)

Wednesday 11th January
20:30 NFT2
Play for Today: Pasmore

BBC 1980. Dir Richard Eyre. With Alison Steadman, Philip Jackson, Penelope Wilton, Jimmy Jewel. 83min
Richard Eyre’s spare and intimate screenplay from David Storey’s novel perfectly captures the malaise affecting Colin (Jackson), who’s trapped in a marriage he feels no longer has meaning. As the relationship disintegrates, Steadman invests his long-suffering wife with a remarkable depth and stoic dignity – but it’s Colin’s painful journey of self discovery that provides the engine for this unflinching, Bergmanesque examination of marital breakdown.
+ Second City Firsts: Girl
BBC 1974. Dir Peter Gill. With Alison Steadman, Myra Frances. 30min
A product of the BBC’s drama unit dedicated to nurturing regional talent, Girl tells the story of a young army recruit and her secret relationship with her army superior. Steadman and Frances create a palpable tension in their relationship, and the drama drew added attention for including one of the first lesbian kisses on UK TV.

Thursday 12th January
18:15 NFT1
TV Preview: Sherlock Series 4, Episode 3 + panel discussion and Q&A
BBC 2017. Dir Benjamin Caron. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman. 90min
By now, the eagerly awaited fourth series  of Sherlock, produced by Hartswood Films, will have been beguiling fans with its mix of laughter, tears, shocks, surprises and extraordinary cases. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman reprise their iconic roles as  Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson in the hit drama written and created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, and inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Join us as we screen the final, hotly anticipated, climactic episode of series four of BBC One’s globally successful, multi-award-winning adventure series.
Visit bfi.org.uk for confirmation on panelists
Tickets £16, concs £12 (Members pay £1.70 less), limited to two per booker

20:40 NFT2
Play for Today: Nuts in May (see 2nd January)

Tuesday 17th January
18:30 NFT2
Screen Two: Virtuoso

BBC 1989. Dir Tony Smith. With Alison Steadman, Alfred Molina, John Heard. 100min
Based on the life of brilliant pianist John Ogdon, this is a moving and painfully honest account of his descent into mental illness. Brenda Ogdon is co-credited with writing the script, and it’s to her great credit that she pulls no punches about the nature of their marriage or her ambiguous role in Ogdon’s career. In the process, she crafts a superb character for Steadman (as Brenda) who, together with Molina’s uncanny Ogdon, creates a totally believable depiction of a genius in crisis.

Tuesday 24th January
20:40 NFT2
Screenplay: A Small Mourning

BBC 1989. Dir Chris Bernard. With Alison Steadman, Stratford Johns, Ian Deam, Catherine Ivie. 66min
When Marjorie (Steadman) is widowed she meets Arnold (Johns) at the local Conservative club. He offers to lift her out of a life of poverty and so they agree to marry – though Marjorie’s still-grieving adolescent son refuses to accept the union… Steadman makes us really feel for Marjorie’s plight in this beautifully observed latter-day tale of Gertrude and Hamlet.
+ Second City Firsts: Early to Bed
BBC 1975. Dir Les Blair. With David Warwick, Alison Steadman, Patricia Leach, John Meadows. 30min
In Alan Bleasdale’s first TV drama, 18-year-old Vinny (Warwick) is having an affair with the married young woman next door (Steadman). Bleasdale acknowledged that Les Blair’s direction ‘made a script of some promise, but no great quality, into something worth watching.’

Thursday 31st January
18:20 NFT2
Screen One: News Hounds

BBC 1990. Dir Les Blair. With Alison Steadman, Adrian Edmondson, Linda Basset, Steven Mackintosh. 102min
In a script honed by improvisation, director Les Blair perfectly captures the moral bankruptcy of Britain’s popular press. Steven Mackintosh plays a young new star on EastEnders, and The Brit newspaper is determined to dig up the dirt they need for tomorrow’s headlines despite the hurt it might cause his family. Nominated for a BAFTA for her nuanced performance, Steadman is chillingly superb as a ruthless showbiz correspondent.

Champions’ priority booking: December 5 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: December 6 11.30am
Public booking opens: December 13 11.30am

Prices (excluding gift aid)
£9.15 (members)
£6.85 (member concs)
£10.65 (non-members)
£8.35 (non-members concs)
Under 16s £6.00

Prices (including gift aid and voluntary contribution)
£10.10 (members)
£7.55 (member concs)
£11.75 (non-members)
£9.20 (non-members concs)

Reduced prices for weekday matinees. Conc prices are available to senior citizens, students, unwaged and disability visitors. Proof of eligibility may be required.
As always, visit the BFI web site for more details.