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)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Cathy's two sons, Sean and Steve, are played by her real life sons of the same names from her marriage to Mike King of The King Brothers. See more »


Referenced in Forever Ealing (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

The archetypal social propagandist film
16 April 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This film is one of the TV drama that is often cited as one that showed how TV can be a force for good, how it can influence government policy and propel social change. It is a film that chronicled the trials and tribulations of a young mother who fell into poverty and homelessness. The screening of the film and the following impact that it had helped shaped public policy on housing, and spawned numerous other similar TV projects that highlighted social issues.

It was done with a good script and good actors, but the impact came from the faux documentary style that it adopted, such that the audience were made to imagine that what happened might just be real. There was no attempt at objectivity - Cathy was portrayed in sympathetic manner, nothing that happened can really be her fault, and the officialdom was unfeeling, severe and judgmental. The film is manipulative but many would argued that that's justified because the heart of the director was in the right place. It is the ultimate propagandist film, one that achieved its objective in spectacular fashion and showed aspiring directors how propaganda on social issues should be done.

But did the film actually do any good? It had a profound influence on housing policy and thus indirectly on the social development of Great Britain. For example, young mothers are now given priority on public housing, and this helped created a situation where young women think that having children would help them getting a council house. It is no accident that Britain has the highest incidence of teenage pregnancy in the Western world and this (and the consequent social problems created) can be argued to be the direct legacy of this film. Does it help with the problem of homelessness? Not a jot from the large number of homeless people we see in London and other British towns, a great proportion of them young men, and a situation that is probably worse than that of the 60's.

This film, and its many subsequent imitators, propagated the dishonest view that individuals who get into difficulties in life are largely blameless, and the government is the one to blame and the one to solve the problems. It, directly or indirectly, helped foster the view that individuals carry little responsibility for their own actions. It is, in essence, a "bad" film, one that no doubt done with good intention, but whose effect has been deleterious and damaging to society.

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