The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
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Cathy Come Home 

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 »

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(as Kenneth Loach)

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Cast

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

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 <darren.giddings@newcastle.ac.uk>

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Drama

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Release Date:

28 March 1969 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Cathy Ward: You don't care. You only pretend to care.
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Connections

Referenced in Forever Ealing (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hugely Influential Television Drama from the BBC's Golden Age
21 August 2016 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Issues of morality - whether we agree or not with director Ken Loach's view of his characters - are not really significant here: what makes CATHY COME HOME such an enduring classic half a century after its original release is its essential boldness.

Produced at a time when television drama actually could make a difference to public opinion, and the BBC regularly produced single plays dealing with contemporary issues, CATHY COME HOME tells a straightforward tale of the eponymous protagonist (Carol White) and husband Reg (Ray Brooks), who begin in relative affluence yet end up sliding down the housing ladder until they are left with absolutely nothing. They are forced to lead separate lives, with Cathy taking two of her children to a prison-like hostel while Reg has to find an apartment of his own. The action culminates in a memorable sequence taking place in an Essex railway-station where an indifferent gaggle of Social Service workers take Cathy's children away from her, leaving her in a tearful heap, bereft of anything and anyone.

Stylistically speaking Loach's production was highly influenced by the British documentary film movement of the previous decade with its cinéma-vérité style of fluid action, short sequences and voiceovers including Cathy herself as well as a variety of so-called do-gooders justifying their particular behaviors, even though none of them appeared to want to help the stricken couple. In an era still wedded to the idea of studio-bound drama, CATHY COME HOME came like a welcome breath of fresh air with its determination not to sentimentalize its characters and single-minded commitment to exposing social ills.

The harrowing final scenes, as Cathy's children are taken into care, caused an outrage. Within days of the broadcast, Loach and writer Jeremy Sandford had been summoned to a meeting of Birmingham Council's Housing Committee, as councilors were furious about the ways in which they had been portrayed. The homeless charity Shelter was established in a wave of anger at the way people had been treated.

Fifty years on, some of the attitudes might now seem dated - especially the casual racism and the basic distrust of nonwhite people - but the problem of homelessness still remains. How many more Cathys are there still roaming the streets of Britain's inner cities, relying on hand-outs and food banks for sustenance?


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