Play for Today: Season 1, Episode 1

The Long Distance Piano Player (15 Oct. 1970)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 10 users  
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The first of the BBC Play For Today series. It replaced the Wednesday Play and the title was changed because it appeared on the BBC on various days of the week... See full synopsis »


(as Philip Savile)


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Title: The Long Distance Piano Player (15 Oct 1970)

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Episode cast overview:
Pete, the Piano Player
Lois Daine ...
Jack Burnshaw
James Hazeldine ...
Bert Palmer ...
Old Man
John Barrett ...
Old Man
Michael Francis ...
Gary Aflalo ...
Mike Grady ...
Youth (as Michael Grady)
Christopher Strain ...


The first of the BBC Play For Today series. It replaced the Wednesday Play and the title was changed because it appeared on the BBC on various days of the week... See full synopsis »

Add Full Plot | Plot Synopsis







Release Date:

15 October 1970 (UK)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Dead End Street
2 July 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

That the BBC wasn't above gimmick casting is highlighted by the fact that the Head Kink was heavily advertised as the lead of the first episode of one of the Beeb's flagship programmes of the 70's. The Kinks' career was at a peculiar place around this time (although thaty has tended to be the norm) - post-Arthur and pre-Lola. The band had resumed touring the States for the first time in 5 years and were struggling to re-establish their audience there - one gig had them as support to the Who, ironically Townsend and co had supported Ray and the boys back in the mid-60's. Ray had spent the past 3 years at an artistic peak and a commercial decline. The future of the band was in doubt and Ray had been touting his songwriting abilities around such varied clients as WHERE WAS SPRING, THE VIRGIN SOLDIERS and the film of TIL DEATH US DO PART. One can't help but wonder if he was hedging his bets for a Kinks-free future. He was already starting to see his songwriting lying in a more theatrical environment.

Alan Sharp would go on to write for Hollywood - Sam Peckinpah in particular. His script is fairly straightforward and very much THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY writ small. Ray breaks no new ground and his performance is competent if unexceptional. His character is mostly passive however. Ray convinces when he suffers a breakdown at the climax and one can only wonder if he based this on his own collapse back in the 60's when he ran a considerable distance to batter his publicist with a sockful of coins. Norman Rossington impresses as a yank-accented vulgarian manager who is obviously straining to conceal his native Scouse accent (Lennon, Davies and Elvis, quite a collection of co-stars). Lois Dane (who I recall from many productions from this time) comes across stronger than Davies as she plays his wife who battles for his soul. Why the piano player is aiming for the record is never satisfactorily explained - apart from one local journalist, there is little press interest. There is even less local interest apart from some abusive yobboes and some indifferent local pensioners. I can see how it would appeal to Davies with his penchant for low key character observations about the mass of humanity living lives of quiet desperation. But the success of Lola a few months later rendered further theatrical endeavours superfluous - unless Davies had devised the scenario himself. He would leave the ranks of naff actors to rock stars like Bowie, Sting and Bon Jovi.

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