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« Of Dreams and Cities - Architecture and Film at the BFI | Main | The Avengers series one and two get new DVD reissue »

United Kingdom! Radical Television Drama Before and During Thatcher at the NFT


We're huge fans of gritty British TV and drama, so United Kingdom! Radical Television Drama Before and During Thatcher at the NFT sounds right up our street.

The season examines the changes in 'radical' drama from the 60s to the 80s, with part one featuring the classic Up the Junction (a rare showing anywhere), early productions of the 60s by Ken Loach, Tony Garnett, and Dennis Potter, not to mention key dramas of the 70s and 80s plus events and Q&As alongside the screenings.

It all takes places through November - full listing over the page.

BFI website


Panel Disscussion & Q&A: TV Sold to the Highest Bidder - Thatcher’s Television Revolution. 75 min
In the 80s the BBC was accused of left wing bias and the licence fee itself was questioned, whilst ITV saw its whole franchise system change. An eminent panel working in broadcasting at that critical time – Michael Grade, Exec Chairman ITV; Alasdair Milne, Former DG BBC TV; Tony Garnett, Producer; David Rose, former Head of Drama BBC Birmingham – examine the impact of Thatcherism on the TV industry and radical drama in particular. Chairperson Raymond Snoddy.
Wed 18 Nov 20:45 NFT1

John Hill: From The Big Flame to Leeds United!
In this illustrated lecture, film and television historian John Hill (from Royal Holloway, University of London) will consider how television drama responded to the industrial conflicts of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Drawing on programme clips, Hill will discuss how these two productions promoted a radical political perspective, provoked controversy and proved a headache for the establishment.
Thu 19 Nov 18:30 Studio
This lecture will be followed by a repeat screening of The Big Flame at 20:45 NFT2


Double Bill:
Diary of a Young Man Ep 1. Survival or they came to a City, BBC 1964
Director Ken Loach. With Victor Henry, Richard Moore, Nerys Hughes. 42 min
A Brechtian style fable of two lads who arrive to seek their fortune in London. Stylistically advanced - using a mix of stills, dream sequences and freeze frames - this script by Troy Kennedy Martin  & John McGrath exploits humour to get its message across, proving “radical” can also be funny.
The Wednesday Play: Up the Junction BBC 1965.
Dir Ken Loach. With Geraldine Sherman, Carol White, Michael Standing. 75 min.
A warm, human but controversial drama about the grim realities facing young people living near Clapham Junction station in South West London, and one of the few plays from the period written by a woman, Nell Dunn.
Wed 4 Nov 18:20 NFT2

The Wednesday Play: The Big Flame  BBC 1969.
Dir Ken Loach. With Norman Rossington, Godfrey Quigley, Peter Kerrigan. 85 min.
This gripping drama follows striking dockers as they take on their bosses, their union and the government to stage a worker takeover of the Liverpool docks. Filmed on location in a drama-documentary style, this is one of the definitive collaborations between Loach, producer Tony Garnett and writer Jim Allen.
On stage & Q&A with producer Tony Garnett.

Wed 4 Nov 20:40 NFT2  

Double Bill:
The Wednesday Play: Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton BBC 1965.
Dir Gareth Davies. With Keith Barron, Valerie Gearon, John Bailey. 75 min.
Dennis Potter’s swinging attack on the party political system has his eponymous anti-hero stand as a Labour candidate in a parliamentary by-election in this follow up to Stand Up, Nigel Barton.
Play for Today: All Good Men , BBC 1973
Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. With Bill Fraser, Ronald Pickup, Jack Shepherd, Francis de la Tour. 63min
When a TV producer arrives at the home of a Labour Lord, old family wounds are opened and his own son betrays him. A blistering polemic on the left/right socialist struggle; only writer Trevor Griffiths could sustain the argument with such dramatic intensity.
Sun 8 Nov 16:00 NFT2


Play for Today: Leeds – United! BBC 1974.
Dir Roy Battersby. With Lynne Perrie, Elizabeth Spriggs, Bert Gaunt. 117 min.
This compelling drama charts the fight of women clothing workers in Leeds for better pay in 1970. Shot on location as a fine example of social realism, it portrays a strong community of women in a bitter struggle with their bosses and union leaders.
On stage discussion & Q&A with producer Kenith Trodd, writer Colin Welland and director Roy Battersby.
Wed 25 Nov 18:20 NFT2

Scum BBC 1977
Director Alan Clarke. With Ray Winstone, David Threlfall, Phil Daniels, Martin Philips. 73min
A devastating critique of the borstal institution, involving scenes of male rape and extreme violence. The BBC banned the original transmission in 1977.  Although it went on to be remade as a critically acclaimed film, this original TV version would not be screened on British television until some 14 years later. A truly groundbreaking production in its courageous refusal to compromise on the issues at stake.
On stage discussion & Q&A with Producer Margaret Matheson & Writer Roy Minton
Fri 13 Nov 18:20 NFT2

Play for Today: Bloody Kids BBC/Blacklion Films 1980
Director Stephen Poliakoff. With Derrick O'Connor, Gary Holton, Richard Thomas, Peter Clark. 88min
When a dysfunctional child's fantasy, to fake being stabbed by his best friend, is put into action both kids are enveloped in a nightmare and things spin rapidly out of control. Poliakoff creates a disturbing world of disaffected youth prowling the night time streets where reality is skewed to heighten the psychological impact. A dreamlike state that permeates much of his work since and which was perfectly suited to the sense of alienation being expressed in the early 80s.
Mon 16 Nov 20:40 NFT2

Play for Today: The Black Stuff BBC 1980
Director Jim Goddard. With Bernard Hill, Michael Angelis,Tom Georgeson, Alan Igbon. 100min
Bleasdale's play graphically illustrated the reality for a group of men struggling to keep their head above water. Through their comradeship and humour we come to care about these characters and in Yossa, Bleasdale created an Everyman figure whose desire simply to make something of himself and “be noticed” is profoundly moving. The play was to spawn the hugely influential series Boys from the Blackstuff, that touched something deep in the collective psyche.
Wed 18 Nov 18:20 NFT1

Play for Today: United Kingdom BBC 1981.
Dir Roland Joffé. With Val McLane, Ricky Tomlinson, Peter Kerrigan, Colin        Welland. 125 min.
Prescient drama about a left-wing council being removed from office for overspending on public services and heading on a violent collision course with an authoritarian chief constable. Powerful central performances and a challenging script from self-confessed Trotskyite Jim Allen make for strong politics and gripping viewing.
On stage discussion & Q&A with producer Kenith Trodd.
Sun 29 Nov 16:00 NFT2

Double Bill:
Oi For England Central TV 1982
Director Tony Smith. With Neil Pearson, Adam Kotz, Richard Platt, Ian Mercer. 54min
Trevor Griffiths play tackles a disintegrating Britain, the opportunism of the BNP and the alienation felt by young white working class males. Four lads seek to escape their dead end lives through punk music, but when offered their first break by a mysterious man is the political price too high to pay?
Made In Britain Central TV 1983
Director Alan Clarke. With Tim Roth, Terry Richards, Bill Stewart, Eric Richard (73min)
This Prix Italia winning production, written by David Leyland, saw Tim Roth give a coruscating performance as Trevor, the disaffected skinhead for whom authority of any kind means nothing. Unnerving in its intensity, Roth charts Trevor's self destruction with an uncanny sense of reality.
Thu 26 Nov 20:40 NFT2


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