The Wednesday Play: Season 1, Episode 72

Cathy Come Home (28 Mar. 1969)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
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From the BBC's influential 'Wednesday Play' series. This tells the bleak tale of Cathy, who loses her home, husband and eventually her child through the inflexibility of the British welfare... See full summary »


(as Kenneth Loach)


(story), (screenplay)
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Title: Cathy Come Home (28 Mar 1969)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Carol White ...
Ray Brooks ...
Reg Ward
Winifred Dennis ...
Mrs. Ward
Wally Patch ...
Adrienne Frame ...
Emmett Hennessy ...
Alec Coleman ...
Wedding Guest
Property Agent
Gabrielle Hamilton ...
Welfare Officer
Phyllis Hickson ...
Mrs. Alley
Frank Veasey ...
Mr. Hodge
Barry Jackson ...
Rent Collector
James Benton ...
Man at Eviction
Ruth Kettlewell ...
John Baddeley ...
Housing Officer


From the BBC's influential 'Wednesday Play' series. This tells the bleak tale of Cathy, who loses her home, husband and eventually her child through the inflexibility of the British welfare system. A grim picture is painted of mid-sixties London, and though realistic the viewer cannot but realise that a political point is being made. One of the consequences of this film was the enormous public support for the housing charity 'Shelter', whose public launch came shortly after the programme was first shown. Written by D.Giddings <>

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Release Date:

28 March 1969 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The TV play was so realistic that for years after it was broadcast, actress Carol White (who played Cathy) would be stopped in the street by passers-by who would press money into her hand, unable to believe that she wasn't actually homeless. See more »

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User Reviews

Angry film that changed attitudes and the law
22 September 1999 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Not many films can claim to have resulted in a change in the law. "Cathy Come Home" is one of them.

This graphic, sympathetic depiction of a couple who become homeless in 60s Britain is still powerful. I watched just the eviction scene recently on TV and I felt intense anger at the injustice rising in me.

The film is plotted like a Greek tragedy - the couple's decline from prosperity is gradual at first, then accelerates horrifically. Unlike a Greek (or Shakespearian)tragedy, however, the characters are not the architects of their fate. They make mistakes, but their punishment is out of all proportion. They are the victims of a harsh and unfeeling system - but most of all of the hostile attitudes of their fellow citizens towards the homeless.

Most viewers at the time would have shared these prejudices - but the film showed them that there, but for the grace of God, they could go too.

The film gave a huge impetus to Shelter, the campaign for the homeless that had just started up. Few other campaigns except (later) CND have had such widespread support. Pressure from Shelter eventually led to a change of the law in 1977 which means that homeless families can no longer be treated as the protagonists of "Cathy" were (although the law certainly has its defects

  • for example the use of bed and breakfast as temporary accommodation, and

its non-applicability to single homeless people).

"Cathy Come Home", if I recall rightly, was written for the BBC's famous "Wednesday Play" slot. Many brilliant plays were filmed for this series, including some early Dennis Potter, and that other influential polemical masterpiece "The War Game" - which the BBC refused to show in a cowardly acquiescence to Government pressure. "Cathy" shares with "The War Game" a quasi-documentary style, without commentary, which provides much of its realism. However the performance of the two leading players in "Cathy" is also perfect.

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