The Wednesday Play: Season 1, Episode 23

3 Clear Sundays (7 Apr. 1965)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
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A dull witted young labourer from a criminal family is sent to gaol for a minor crime, leaving his pregnant girlfriend unmarried. But while there he is talked into attacking a guard, who ... See full summary »


(as Kenneth Loach)


(TV play) (as James O'Connor)
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Title: 3 Clear Sundays (07 Apr 1965)

3 Clear Sundays (07 Apr 1965) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Selby ...
Danny Lee
Rita Webb ...
Britannia Lee
Finnuala O'Shannon ...
Rosa (as Finuala O'Shannon)
Dickie Owen ...
Big Al
Will Stampe ...
John Blythe ...
Jimmy the Gent
Bernard Shine ...
P.C. 'One-a-day'
Wally Patch ...
Prisoner in Black Maria
Ken Wayne ...
Prisoner in Black Maria
Alec Ross ...
Nick Carney
George Webb ...
Jim Ritchie
Glynn Edwards ...
Prison Officer Johnson
Howell Evans ...
Prison Officer Morgan
Eric Mason ...
Alan Cooper ...


A dull witted young labourer from a criminal family is sent to gaol for a minor crime, leaving his pregnant girlfriend unmarried. But while there he is talked into attacking a guard, who later dies, so he's then sentenced to hang for his crime, despite a protest and newspaper campaign for leniency. Written by WesternOne

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Release Date:

7 April 1965 (UK)  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title of this film is taken from the Home Office ruling on capital punishment that "three clear Sundays" must elapse between a judge pronouncing sentence of death and the convicted prisoner being executed by hanging. See more »

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User Reviews

About capital punishment, a made for television film, broadcast at the time of the final debates in Parliament on the abolition of capital punishment in the United Kingdom.
5 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was one of Ken Loach's most powerful plays for television. I have not seen it since it was broadcast and was pleased to see that it has survived through the vagaries of the BBC policies of occasional and rather haphazard house cleaning.

The story tells of a young and naive petty criminal who is introduced to two other cell-mates in prison. They persuade him to attack a warder so that they will be released earlier for coming to the aid of the officer and thus all three will be released at the same time. The plot miscarries and the warder dies of his injuries. The remainder of the film deals with the inexorable process of the trial for murder and the "Three Clear Sundays" that were required to elapse for appeals to be heard between sentence and execution. The portrayal of the young man by Tony Selby, then a young actor at the beginning of his career, was deeply moving and the dreadful inevitability of the conclusion is further amplified by a sequence of texts that scrolled up the screen giving details of hangings that had been bungled and led to terrible pain and anguish of the condemned and the witnesses to the executions.

The play was written by an ex-convict, Jimmy O'Connor, who had himself had a death sentence commuted. He wrote from experience of the London criminal world of the time. As a teenager it made a great impression on me four decades ago and, with Losey's King and Country, cemented my views on the inhumanity of capital punishment. I would be most interested to see it again.

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