TV Plays

by DanCushing | created - 21 Aug 2016 | updated - 22 Aug 2016 | Public
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1. BBC Sunday-Night Theatre (1950–1959)
Episode: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954)

120 min | Drama

In a totalitarian future society, Winston Smith, whose daily work is re-writing history, tries to rebel by falling in love.

Director: Rudolph Cartier | Stars: Peter Cushing, André Morell, Yvonne Mitchell, Donald Pleasence

Votes: 418

2. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Traitor (1971)

61 min | Comedy, Drama

Dishillusioned by his rich, aristocratic upbringing in Britain, top foreign office diplomat Adrian Harris became a spy for the Russians. He escaped to Moscow after being found out and it is... See full summary »

Director: Alan Bridges | Stars: John Le Mesurier, Jack Hedley, Vincent Ball, Neil McCallum

Votes: 39

3. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Schmoedipus (1974)

67 min | Comedy, Drama

When a stranger, Glen, appears at the door of middle-aged Elizabeth Carter, he claims to be the illegitimate son she gave away at birth, and she accepts his story.

Director: Barry Davis | Stars: Anna Cropper, John Carson, Tim Curry, John Horsley

Votes: 42

4. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Son of Man (1969)

90 min | Drama

Dennis Potter's controversial reading of the life of Christ, with Jesus portrayed as a hearty, fiery, well-meaning carpenter who believes that people should try to love their enemies rather... See full summary »

Director: Gareth Davies | Stars: Colin Blakely, Robert Hardy, Bernard Hepton, Brian Blessed

Votes: 65

5. Black and Blue (1973– )
Episode: Secrets (1973)

53 min | Drama

Secrets Chocolates receive an unexpected sales boost when three maintenance workers fall into the chocolate vat and are fed through the production line.

Director: James Cellan Jones | Stars: Warren Mitchell, Clifford Rose, Julian Holloway, David Collings

Votes: 21

6. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Stand Up, Nigel Barton (1965)

75 min | Drama

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 »

Director: Gareth Davies | Stars: Keith Barron, Jack Woolgar, Katherine Parr, Vickery Turner

Votes: 61

7. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Double Dare (1976)

70 min | Comedy, Drama

For the BBC's PLAY FOR TODAY series, Dennis Potter wrote this reflexive commentary on writers and actresses, the first Potter production to be done entirely on film. Playwright Martin Ellis... See full summary »

Director: John Mackenzie | Stars: Alan Dobie, Kika Markham, Malcolm Terris, Joe Melia

Votes: 34

8. American Playhouse (1981– )
Episode: Displaced Person (1985)

60 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Add a Plot

Director: Alan Bridges | Stars: Stan Shaw, Rosemary Leach, Ricco Ross, Neville Aurelius

Votes: 17

9. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Sunset Across the Bay (1975)

70 min | Comedy, Drama

A married couple, after a life time of work and bringing up a family, retire and awaken to the fast changing world around them, the habitual nature of their relationship, and what they have left.

Director: Stephen Frears | Stars: Gabrielle Daye, Harry Markham, Bob Peck, Christine Buckley

Votes: 65

10. Screen One (1985–2002)
Episode: A Question of Attribution (1991)

70 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Sir Anthony Blunt, who was a Soviet agent for 25 years, is routinely questioned and gives no answers, but is knighted and works as Director of the Courtauld Institute, and presents his ... See full summary »

Director: John Schlesinger | Stars: James Fox, Gregory Floy, David Calder, Edward de Souza

Votes: 204

11. Screen Two (1985–2002)
Episode: Visitors (1987)

89 min | Drama

This production for the BBC-2's "Screen Two" series was the last of Dennis Potter's "one-shot, one-slot" plays for television. It had its origins in Potter's 1983 play "Sufficient ... See full summary »

Director: Piers Haggard | Stars: Robert MacNaughton, Michael Brandon, Glynis Barber, John Standing

Votes: 46

12. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Alice (1965)

72 min | Drama

Written for THE WEDNESDAY PLAY (1964-70), which the BBC retitled PLAY FOR TODAY in 1970, ALICE has the earliest airdate (10/13/65) of the Potter productions to survive on tape. After THE ... See full summary »

Director: Gareth Davies | Stars: George Baker, Deborah Watling, Rosalie Crutchley, David Langton

Votes: 29

13. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton (1965)

80 min | Drama

Candidate Nigel Barton goes from idealism to cynicism as he becomes disillusioned and suspicious of hollow campaign promises.

Director: Gareth Davies | Stars: Keith Barron, Valerie Gearon, John Bailey, Cyril Luckham

Votes: 64

14. American Playhouse (1981– )
Episode: Solomon Northup's Odyssey (1984)

Not Rated | 115 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

This is based on a true story. Solomon Northrop is a black man in the mid 19th century before slavery was abolished. He's a born freeman who works as a carpenter and is also a part time ... See full summary »

Director: Gordon Parks | Stars: Avery Brooks, Rhetta Greene, Mason Adams, Ken Broadhurst

Votes: 133

15. Screen Two (1985–2002)
Episode: Shadow on the Earth (1988)


Two brothers growing up in a small Scottish mining town become convinced the albino man living in their street is an alien. Influenced by science fiction films and the religious bigotry ... See full summary »

Director: Chris Bernard | Stars: Sam Hickman, Billy Hartman, Billy McElhaney, Gerry Slevin

Votes: 25

16. Great Performances (1971– )
Episode: Monsignor Quixote (1987)


In this modern adaptation of the Don Quixote theme based on a novel by Graham Greene, Quixote is an old Spanish village priest who travels through Spain with his friend, Sancho, the ... See full summary »

Director: Rodney Bennett | Stars: Alec Guinness, Leo McKern, Ian Richardson, Graham Crowden

Votes: 172

17. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: The Golden Vision (1968)

74 min | Drama

The problems of a group of football fans.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Ken Jones, Bill Dean, Neville Smith, Joey Kaye

Votes: 55

18. BBC Play of the Month (1965–1983)
Episode: I Have Been Here Before (1982)


Guests at a small hotel are disquieted by the insistence of a mysterious doctor that he has been there before.

Director: James Ormerod | Stars: Herbert Lom, James Griffiths, Anthony Valentine, Lorna Heilbron

19. Screen Two (1985–2002)
Episode: The Firm (1989)

70 min | Drama

This is the story of rival "Firms" of football supporters, and how one man has a wish to team them up for the European Championships of 1988. However, when this is discussed, the opposing ... See full summary »

Director: Alan Clarke | Stars: Gary Oldman, Lesley Manville, Phil Davis, Andrew Wilde

Votes: 2,734

20. Screen Two (1985–2002)
Episode: Streetlife (1995)

98 min | Drama

The rough urban life in a Welsh valley that focuses on Jo, a single mother who has just become pregnant by her married boyfriend Kevin.

Director: Karl Francis | Stars: Helen McCrory, Rhys Ifans, Christine Tuckett, Donna Edwards

Votes: 47

21. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Our Day Out (1978)

70 min | Comedy, Drama

When a teacher takes a group of troubled school children on a school trip to Conwy in Wales, the children understand life outside of Liverpool.

Director: Pedr James | Stars: Alun Armstrong, Jean Heywood, Elizabeth Estensen, Lennox Greaves

Votes: 159

22. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Leeds - United! (1974)

116 min | Comedy, Drama

The true story of a strike in 1970 by female textile-factory workers in Leeds who wanted to be paid the same as their male colleagues, but whose efforts were undermined by the trade union that they belonged to.

Director: Roy Battersby | Stars: Lynne Perrie, Elizabeth Spriggs, Lori Wells, Josie Lane

Votes: 14

23. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Edna, the Inebriate Woman (1971)

90 min | Comedy, Drama

Edna is a drunk, and a homeless one. The play follows her through the streets, the police station, the psychiatric ward and a hostel, which for a while looks like it may become somewhere she can stay.

Director: Ted Kotcheff | Stars: Patricia Hayes, Barbara Jefford, Geraldine Sherman, Cheryl Hall

Votes: 101

24. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Home (1972)

86 min | Comedy, Drama

In a mental home, two elderly men become unlikely friends.

Director: Lindsay Anderson | Stars: John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Dandy Nichols, Mona Washbourne

Votes: 35

25. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Land of Green Ginger (1973)

50 min | Comedy, Drama

Faced with the prospect of being sent to work abroad, Sally Brown returns home from London to Hull, to see if she still feels the same attachment for her home town - and for her old ... See full summary »

Director: Brian Parker | Stars: Gwen Taylor, John Flanagan, Jean Heywood, Michael Elwyn

Votes: 23

26. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Comedians (1979)

Comedy, Drama

Six wannabe stand-up comedians attend an evening class run by Eddie Waters. Eddie is a professional comic and he's determined to teach them that comedy is much more than just jokes.

Director: Richard Eyre | Stars: Bill Fraser, Jonathan Pryce, David Burke, Linal Haft

Votes: 38

28. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: The Fishing Party (1972)

Comedy, Drama

Three miners plan a weekend fishing.

Director: Michael Simpson | Stars: Brian Glover, Ray Mort, Douglas Livingstone, Jane Freeman

Votes: 41

29. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Spend Spend Spend (1977)

85 min | Comedy, Drama

Autobiographical tale about Viv Nicholson who had a large Football Pools win in the early 1960s, and the ultimately destructive effect it had on her and her family.

Director: John Goldschmidt | Stars: Susan Littler, John Duttine, Helene Palmer, Joe Belcher

Votes: 46

30. Screen Two (1985–2002)
Episode: Crossing the Floor (1996)

70 min | Drama

Political satire closely mirroring real-life British politics of the time - a self-serving Conservative minister "crosses the floor" to join the opposition Labour Party, at a time when the ... See full summary »

Director: Guy Jenkin | Stars: Tom Wilkinson, Neil Pearson, Clive Russell, James Fleet

Votes: 62

31. Screen One (1985–2002)
Episode: Down Among the Big Boys (1993)

88 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Set in Glasgow, Louie, the detective son of an upright police sergeant, is about to marry. His intended is the daughter of JoJo (Connolly), a wealthy and compulsive thief who attempts a ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Gormley | Stars: Billy Connolly, John Murtagh, Ewan Stewart, Rab Affleck

Votes: 72

32. BBC2 Playhouse (1973–1983)
Episode: Grown-Ups (1980)

95 min | Drama

Dick and Mandy, a young working class couple, move into a council house in Canterbury, and find Mr. Butcher, one of their former teachers, living next door. Mandy's unmarried sister, Gloria... See full summary »

Director: Mike Leigh | Stars: Phil Davis, Lesley Manville, Brenda Blethyn, Janine Duvitski

Votes: 340

33. ITV Saturday Night Theatre (1969– )
Episode: Another Sunday and Sweet F.A (1972)

50 min | Drama

Mr. Armistead is the referee for an amateur league Sunday Football match. Disliked and abused by all the players he tries to play fair and ensure they follow the rules. By the end of the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: David Swift, Gordon McGrae, Freddie Fletcher, Fred Feast

Votes: 43

34. Screen Two (1985–2002)
Episode: The Snapper (1993)

R | 91 min | Drama

83 Metascore

Set in Ireland, Sharon Curley is a 20 year old living with her parents and many brothers and sisters. When she gets herself pregnant and refuses to name the father, she becomes the talk of ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Frears | Stars: Colm Meaney, Tina Kellegher, Ruth McCabe, Eanna MacLiam

Votes: 5,221 | Gross: $3.32M

35. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1974)

90 min | Comedy, Drama

Drama documentary adaptation of John McGrath's play staged by the 7:84 theatre company dealing with the exploitation of the Scottish people throughout history, from the brutal evictions of ... See full summary »

Director: John Mackenzie | Stars: John Bett, David MacLennan, Dolina MacLennan, Elizabeth MacLennan

Votes: 30

36. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Cathy Come Home (1966)

75 min | Drama

Cathy loses her home, husband and eventually her child through the inflexibility of the British welfare system.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Carol White, Ray Brooks, Winifred Dennis, Wally Patch

Votes: 795

37. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: The Big Flame (1969)

85 min | Drama

Dock workers under the threat of redundancy, work day and night in an attempt to keep employed by running the workforce themselves.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Norman Rossington, Godfrey Quigley, Peter Kerrigan, Ken Jones

Votes: 43

38. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: 3 Clear Sundays (1965)

85 min | Drama

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 »

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Tony Selby, Rita Webb, Finnuala O'Shannon, Dickie Owen

Votes: 36

39. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: The Price of Coal: Part 1 - Meet the People (1977)

77 min | Comedy, Drama

The workers of Milton Colliery prepare for a royal visit by H.R.H. Prince Charles.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Bobby Knutt, Rita May, Paul Chappell, Jayne Waddington

Votes: 51

40. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: The Price of Coal: Part 2 - Back to Reality (1977)

91 min | Comedy, Drama

A month after the royal visit, the workers at Milton Colliery are brought crashing back down to earth by an underground explosion.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Rita May, Bobby Knutt, Paul Chappell, Jayne Waddington

Votes: 39

41. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Up the Junction (1965)

72 min | Drama

Fragments of the life of three working-class women, and the people around them, in South London in the 1960s. Scenes in homes, streets, pubs, prison and their workplace cover family, friendship, romance, sex, and abortion.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Carol White, Geraldine Sherman, Vickery Turner, Tony Selby

Votes: 102

42. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Emma's Time (1970)

80 min | Drama

Emma, who lived with an author for the last two years of his life, is involved in a television film about him.

Director: Alan Bridges | Stars: Michele Dotrice, Andrew Keir, Ian Holm, Pauline Yates

Votes: 8

43. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Close the Coalhouse Door (1969)

80 min | Drama

The history of the mining industry in the northeast of England is told through family drama, comedy sketches and song.

Director: Bill Hays | Stars: Dudley Foster, Alan Browning, Colin Douglas, Bryan Pringle

Votes: 11

44. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: No Trams to Lime Street (1970)

50 min | Drama

Three young merchant seamen from Liverpool take shore leave in their home city after three years away.

Director: Piers Haggard | Stars: Rosemary Nicols, Glyn Owen, Anthony May, Paul Greenwood

Votes: 7

45. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: A Beast with Two Backs (1968)

71 min | Drama

Part of the BBC's celebrated 'Wednesday Play' series of the 1960s, this early work by Dennis Potter is set in an isolated New Forest community in 19th Century Britain. A young local girl is... See full summary »

Director: Lionel Harris | Stars: Patrick Barr, Denis Carey, Laurence Carter, Madeleine Newbury

Votes: 23

46. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Anyone for Tennis? (1968)

75 min | Drama

Garry committed suicide to escape disgrace and imprisonment. Does he now have the chance to change the circumstances leading to his downfall?

Director: Claude Whatham | Stars: Clifford Evans, Rachel Kempson, Joseph O'Conor, Ernest Clark

47. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: The Gorge (1968)

75 min | Drama

A teenage boy reluctantly accompanies his ghastly family on a coarse bank-holiday day out to local beauty spot and tourist trap, the Cheddar Gorge.

Director: Christopher Morahan | Stars: Billy Hamon, Constance Chapman, Reg Lye, Neil Wilson

Votes: 17

48. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: Message for Posterity (1967)

79 min | Drama

An elderly painter, once radical and confrontational, is given a final commission - to paint the portrait of the former Conservative Prime Minister who represented a totally opposing set of... See full summary »

Director: Gareth Davies | Stars: Patrick Magee, Joseph O'Conor, Patricia Lawrence, Anna Calder-Marshall

Votes: 13

49. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: In Two Minds (1967)

85 min | Drama

In a series of small vignettes, we follow the course of a manic-depressive girl through high and low instances, slowly following her disintegration as she deals with her doctors and family,... See full summary »

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Anna Cropper, Brian Phelan, George A. Cooper, Helen Booth

Votes: 34

50. The Wednesday Play (1964–1970)
Episode: The Lump (1967)

75 min | Drama