The Wednesday Play: Season 1, Episode 42

Stand Up, Nigel Barton (8 Dec. 1965)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
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Semi-autobiographical TV play by Dennis Potter, from the BBC's 'Wednesday Play' series. It deals with the experiences of Nigel Barton, a young man from a poor mining community who wins a ... See full summary »



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Title: Stand Up, Nigel Barton (08 Dec 1965)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Keith Barron ...
Jack Woolgar ...
Harry Barton
Katherine Parr ...
Mrs. Barton
Vickery Turner ...
Jill Blakeney
Robert Mill ...
Janet Henfrey ...
Miss Tillings
Patrick Kavanagh ...
Reporter (as P.J. Kavanagh)
Johnnie Wade ...
Godfrey James ...
Llewellyn Rees ...
Senior Proctor
Brian Badcoe ...
Junior Proctor
Brian Hankins ...
Terence Soall ...
Barbara Keogh ...
Mrs. Taylor
Peter Madden ...


Semi-autobiographical TV play by Dennis Potter, from the BBC's 'Wednesday Play' series. It deals with the experiences of Nigel Barton, a young man from a poor mining community who wins a scholarship to Oxford University. The villagers accuse him of snobbery, while the rich University students treat him like a peasant. Uncertain of which sphere he should be moving in, Nigel tries to reconcile himself with his proud but stubborn father, and also succeed at University, despite its pretentions which apall him. Written by D.Giddings <>

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Release Date:

8 December 1965 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Nigel Barton: [watching his father go to the mine] There but for the grace of God - and the 11-plus exam - go I.
See more »


In the Midnight Hour
Written by Wilson Pickett and Steve Cropper
Performed by Wilson Pickett
See more »

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User Reviews

Early Dennis Potter gem
21 January 2007 | by (Limerick,Ireland) – See all my reviews

This early Potter play -- which, along with its sequel, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE FOR NIGEL BARTON (shown one week later!) went a long way towards establishing his reputation -- is a little gem which is definitely worth catching. A young man from a working class background (his father is a miner) goes up to Oxford (or down, as his father says) and struggles to find his place, torn between two very different worlds, that of the upper and lower classes. It's very much a play of its time, owing a lot to the British Angry Young Man films of the late 50s and early 60s. But even this early on it carries Potter's distinct stamp, as when it starts and ends with the father resolutely marching down the centre of the road, or when the characters acknowledge the presence of the camera and tip knowing winks to the audience.

But the most fascinating aspect of this 1965 play for Potter-ites is the way it mixes the present with the past (a familiar Potter pattern), and also how the adults play the roles of children in the flashbacks. Potter made this device famous in his much later TV play, BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS, but here is evidence that the idea for having adults play nasty, vindictive, emotional children was very much in his mind from even his first ventures into the medium. It's a revealing insight and one that gives this added emphasis. The focus on the father-son and class relationships might have been borrowed from countless other similar films, but this upheval of dramatic expectations marks the play out as the product of a very different, very special writer -- which Potter went on to prove he was, time and time again, in no uncertain terms.

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