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Brimstone and Treacle (1987)

The Bates sadly care for their severely disabled daughter Pattie. Martin arrives at their door claiming to be her college friend. He charms them into accepting him as a lodger and carer for Pattie. But Martin is not all he seems.





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Complete credited cast:
Mr. Tom Bates
Martin Taylor
Patricia Lawrence ...
Mrs. Amy Bates
Michelle Newell ...
Pattie Bates
Paul Williamson ...
Esmond Webb ...
Man with dog
Patricia Quayle ...
Woman in street
Man in street


The Bates sadly care for their severely disabled daughter Pattie. Martin arrives at their door claiming to be her college friend. He charms them into accepting him as a lodger and carer for Pattie. But Martin is not all he seems.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Parents Guide:



Release Date:

25 August 1987 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


It was originally scheduled for broadcast on 6 April 1976 as part of BBC1's Play For Today strand, but was banned from transmission by the BBC's Director of Programmes Alasdair Milne because it includes a rape scene. Milne later described the play as "repugnant". It was eventually shown for the first time on 25 August 1987. See more »


Martin: Eggs. You have any eggs?
Mrs. Bates: Eggs?
Martin: Oval spheroids deposited through the rectum of the domestic fowl.
See more »


Remade as Brimstone & Treacle (1982) See more »


That Old Black Magic
Music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performer unknown
Heard when Martin first goes to Patricia's room and later when Martin pushes her in the wheelchair.
See more »

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User Reviews

Vintage Potter - provocative and disturbing
23 September 1999 | by See all my reviews

My wife and I saw _Brimstone and Treacle_ at the Potter retrospective held in Boston a couple of years ago; we were discussing its implications for days afterward. Like much of Potter's work, it shows how good television can be when put in the right hands. Provocative and at times disturbing, it uses the devices of a moral fable to question our common-sense idea of moral judgment. A mysterious young man (Michael Kitchen) insinuates himself into the household of an unhappy suburban couple whose life centers around caring for their paralyzed and mute grown daughter. He has a plan for these people, and in the implementing of it he crosses the line into the unethical and the criminal. Yet we're being asked to look beyond appearances, because Martin is not an ordinary human. There's something demonic about his perverse toying with people -- not to mention his affinity with thunderstorms. As the film reaches its climax, another order of truth is revealed, one that stands our comfortable certainties about right and wrong on their heads.

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