1 9 8 5 (UK)
25 x 55 minute episodes
This anthology of 55-minute plays aired on Thursday nights on BBC2.
The stand-out was arguably “Pity in History” (4/7/85) starring Ian McDiarmid, Norman Rodway and Anna Massey.
Long Term Memory
Build A Little Home was one of Gerald’s (Patrick Troughton) favourite numbers when he used to play the saxophone. His son Peter plays the guitar but Gerald wouldn’t know about that as he walked out on his wife and children 21 years ago when he lost his memory.
Now illness brings him face to face with the future and he wants a reunion. His wife, Joan (Pat Heywood) and the family aren’t so sure.
“With a thousand little stars, we will decorate the ceiling,
With an optimistic feeling, we will build a little home”
G.B. Zoot Money
Rachel and the Roarettes
The Roarettes are a 20th-century gang of women bikers led by dazzling, androgynous Rachel (Josie Lawrence). She walks into a pub, and into the life of Melanie (Susannah Bunyan) who, observing the free lifestyle of the Roarettes, starts questioning her own values and expectations.
She is suddenly faced with the choice of an anarchic, action-packed future or domestic drudgery and marriage to a dull local lad.
Parallels are drawn between the bikers and 18th-century gangs of highwaywomen so that Rachel is framed in the 20th Century for stealing from the pub till, and in the 19th century she is condemned to hang for robbery.
It’s a rollicking fantasy with songs, robberies, motorbikes and stagecoaches.
Howard Lew Lewis
Phoebe (Kathryn Pogson) comes straight from a farm and a very religious family to work as a kitchen maid in a girls’ school. It is wartime and the other maid is Stella (Sylvestra Le Touzel), a Londoner whose approach to life is, to say the least, more forthright.
Sylvestra Le Touzel
You’ve Never Slept in Mine
Life in the Assessment Centre is far from easy: all the other girls want to know what you are in for. Shop-lifting? Truanting? Or something far more spectacular?
You see them everywhere: dear sweet old ladies; harmless, eccentric – but not always quite what they seem.
Woman in patisserie
It’s Bonfire Night in Manchester and when Sheila Goodwin (June Ritchie) falls off a bus, drunk, in Piccadilly Gardens, and has to spend the night in hospital, memories start to intrude.
Marianne Di Marko
Pity in History
This marvellous roaring play by Howard Barker is set in a cathedral ravaged by Oliver Cromwell’s troops during the English civil war.
A cook (Ian McDiarmid) dies lengthily and noisily – after being accidentally shot by one of his own comrades – and a Royalist sculptor (Norman Rodway) works to carve his last masterpiece, which is certain to be smashed. And so the play centres on the simultaneous acts of destruction and creation taking place.
Alan Rickman has a bit part as a priest.
At the local camera club, the men are arriving for a glamour session. The model, June (Charon Bourke) is on her way. Stuffy club chairman George (Rodney Bewes) wants a “nice friendly evening’s photography”. The others have rather different hopes.
The smooth-tongued Bob (Philip Jackson) charms the model into taking off her bikini while George tries to keep order as the leering members forget themselves and their photography.
Written by John Minson.
June (The Model)
Tensions between the East and the West escalate and the radio warns that a nuclear war is becoming a distinct possibility.
Liverpudlian Jack Shaughnessy (Michael Angelis) takes his two young sons to London by train. The older of the two boys, 11-year-old Carl (Tony Carney), is a chess prodigy. The younger son, Lee (Anthony Mcinerney) is a normal boy with no interest in chess.
They arrive at a Chess event where visiting Russian Chess Grand Master Krylov (Michael Poole) plays several games simultaneously. Unbeknown to his accompanying KGB escort Krylov is hoping to manufacture an opportunity in which he can defect.
Russian Embassy official
A play about the rehearsal and recording of a radio play. The director believes “radio is very akin to film, except radio is more visual”. The play within a play is about a Peeping Tom.
A comic exploration of the pros and cons of bringing a baby into the modern world, featuring not only Jill and Michael, the potential parents, but elephants, dwarf mongooses – and sticklebacks!
All the parts are played by Helen Bourne and author Jack Klaff.
The Dumb Waiter
This two-hander Harold Pinter comedy revolves around two men, Gus (Kenneth Cranham) and Ben (Colin Blakely), killing time in the basement of an abandoned restaurant while waiting for their instructions for a “job” – they pick over snippets in a newspaper and bicker to quell their nerves.
One for the Road
“You probably think I’m part of a predictable, long-established pattern; i.e. I chat away, friendly, insouciant . . . while another waits in the wings . . . coiled like a puma”.
“No, no. It’s not quite like that. I run the place. God speaks through me”.
Harold Pinter’s menacing play is a chilling study of the psychology of torture with Alan Bates as Nicholas, the tormentor and Roger Lloyd Pack as Victor, his victim.
Roger Lloyd Pack
Pythons on the Mountain
John Prothero (Richard Pasco), internationally famous for his witty and iconoclastic TV criticism, treats us to an outrageously comic helping of autobiography, Scenes from a Welsh Adolescence.
John, aged 4
John, aged 11
John, aged 17
Gareth, aged 17
The Reverend Prothero
A Still Small Shout
“I always wanted to be what you brought me up to be, what you called a grain of sand in the eye of the world. I wanted to be it so I could feel terror; the terror you feel on a big dipper; the terror you feel when you are starting an affair.”
This spy spoof has John Duttine as Alan Hardacre, the innocent roped in by his old chum from college days to do a bit of spying on the side, with disastrous results.
A Crack in the Ice
A comedy about injustice set in St Petersburg in 1839. The Tsar has tightened up security and mounted a round-the-clock guard at his palace – the Peter and Paul Fortress. Unfortunately for Private Postnikov, he hears the cries of a drowning man and goes to his rescue.
Superintendent of Police
Henry Potter (Donald Gee) is a teacher, and a very good one, but his dream of man-powered flight, and his habit of destroying the odd greenhouse on his test runs, threatens his career. There is also his daughter Ruth (Anna Kipling), who would dearly love to retrieve her bicycle wheels from his flying machine.
Teresa (co-writer Kate Lock) has been on a visit to the Holy Land. When she returns, she goes to Father Doyle (Donal McCann) at confession to confide news of a miracle and his faith is put to the test.
Written by Kate Lock and Terry Johnson.
Young Home Counties reporter Tristan Hanley (Tim Roth) is now working in Bradford and is told by his proprietor (Roy Kinnear) to get the story on a missing young local prostitute. His trail leads through the undergrowth of the city which, to him, is an alien world.
Independent pensioner Mrs Malby (Rosamund Greenwood) is not the least bit interested in an offer of domestic or decorating help from pupils at a local school. Tim Wylton plays the teacher who misinterprets her refusal and dispatches his community action quartet to brighten up the old lady’s life.
Kisses on the Bottom
A saucy comedy for the Bank Holiday about saucy seaside postcards.
The House on Kirov Street
It is November 1941, and the German Army is sweeping through the Crimea. German officers are billeted in Yalta – some of them in Anton Chekhov’s old house in Kirov Street. The house is now a museum, but it is guarded by Chekhov’s sister for whom the war, like the Revolution before it, is just another unwelcome disturbance.
After You, Hugo
Set in a 1920s music hall, this “play with very few words” was the work of John David who also directed, and Chris Harris and Nola Rae, who also led the cast as Alfonso, the singing Gondolier and Mlle Entrechat the ballerina.
Languishing at the bottom of the bill, neither artiste is enjoying fame or acclaim – but they save the day by conjuring up a stunning new act when the stars fail to show up.
Portrait of Isa Mulvenny
It is the 1950s: Bill Thompson (Nicholas Farrell) is a middle-class English boy sent by his father to serve an engineering apprenticeship on the Clyde. He lodges with a Greenock family and forms an attachment to his landlady, Mrs Mulvenny (Jennifer Piercey), which is to affect his life for the next 20 years.
A young couple book a hotel room for a dirty weekend in Tony Marchant’s play.
Linda: When are we going?
Gary: Next Friday.
Linda: Have you booked?
Gary: It’s called making a reservation.
Linda: I feel excited Gal. My stomach feels all funny.
Gary If it feels funny now, wait till next Friday.