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OPTIONAL SUBTITLES. 1 disc. Dramatised Documentary. Black & White. Year: 1966. Running time approx 77 mins.

Cast: Carol White, Ray Brooks, Winifred Dennis, Adrienne Frame, Ron Pember, Geoffrey Palmer, Emmett Hennessy, Barry Jackson, Ruth Kettlewell, Lennard Pearce, Gabrielle Hamilton, Wally Patch and Andria Lawrence.

Directed by Ken Loach.
Extras: Commentary with Ken Loach. Documentary on Housing Problems.

“Probably the most successful play of all time.” Daily Express

Controversial, moving and brilliantly acted, this is arguably the most influential television drama ever broadcast. Watched by 12 million people – a quarter of the British population at the time – when first broadcast on 16th November 1966, Cathy Come Home was a defining moment in British television history. It provoked major public and political discussion and challenged the accepted conventions of television drama. The film tells the story of Cathy and Reg, a couple with three young children, whose lives spiral into poverty when Reg loses his job. Gripping and emotional, it remains a ground-breaking piece of dramatic fiction, highlighting social issues and the rights of mothers to keep their own children. Using documentary-style filming on location, the film consolidated director Ken Loach’s reputation for hard-hitting social realism.

First broadcast on 16 November 1966 as part of the BBC’s The Wednesday Play series, Cathy Come Home is a play about homelessness and inflexibility of the British welfare system at the time. Written by Jeremy Sandford, produced by Tony Garnett and directed by Ken Loach, it was made in a realistic documentary style and mostly shot on location; in London, including the Fulham Road and Whitechapel; and also in Birmingham, where scenes of back-to-back housing were filmed. The play broached issues not then widely discussed in the popular media, such as homelessness, unemployment and the rights of mothers to keep their own children. It produced a storm of phone calls to the BBC, and discussion in Parliament. The charity Crisis was formed the following year in 1967, after public reaction to the film. Another charity for the homeless, Shelter, was coincidentally launched a few days after the first broadcast. Although it not connected to the programme, it alerted public, media, and government to the scale of the housing crisis, gaining Shelter many new supporters. However, housing policy was only reformed a decade later with the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act of 1977. 

Cathy Come Home established Ken Loach as a politically committed filmmaker standing apart from the commercial mainstream, with a strong sensitivity for working-class characters. Carol White and Ray Brooks play their roles not as actors but as people in a documentary, looking and sounding like real people in a real situation. At a time when many television tapes were destroyed or re-used, this play was kept; and repeated by the BBC several times. It remains an influential piece of social history, still relevant today.

£15 with free UK Postage.

Additional information

Weight .505 kg
Dimensions 29.7 × 21.0 × 3.0 cm