Play for Today (1970–1984)
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Dinner at the Sporting Club 

John Thaw plays Dinny Mathews a small time boxing promoter who struggles with his conscience as to whether or not to provide a fighter for a Sporting Club promotion, a fighter he knows is ... See full summary »


Brian Gibson


Leon Griffiths

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Thaw ... Dinny Mathews
Billy McColl Billy McColl ... John Duncan
Patrick Durkin ... Patsy
Jonathan Lynn ... Cyril Benson
Ken Campbell Ken Campbell ... Neville
Tony Caunter Tony Caunter ... Ray Little
Maureen Lipman ... Sharon Benson
John Bardon ... Sammy
Herbert Norville Herbert Norville ... Elwyn
Terry Downes ... George
Liam Neeson ... Dermot
Marilyn Galsworthy Marilyn Galsworthy ... Mandy
Nula Conwell Nula Conwell ... Carol
Paul Imbusch Paul Imbusch ... Mr. Knight
Eric Kent Eric Kent ... Inspector Harry Onslow


John Thaw plays Dinny Mathews a small time boxing promoter who struggles with his conscience as to whether or not to provide a fighter for a Sporting Club promotion, a fighter he knows is unfit against an opponent who is way out of his league. However Mathews needs sponsorship and this would be the ideal opportunity to mix with the "frilly shirted" sportsmen who enjoy their lavish lifestyle as fighters slug it out as the steak is served. Written by Bertram Mills

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Plot Keywords:

boxing | See All (1) »


Comedy | Drama

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

7 November 1978 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dinny Mathews: The game doesn't belong to the dinner jackets and the frilly shirts. It belongs to the people. Because that's where the fighters come from...
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User Reviews

Superb in every aspect
17 July 2014 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Not only was Dinner at the Sporting Club so superbly done, but I couldn't find any problem with it other than that it could have perhaps been a touch longer. The production values had the perfect amount of seediness, which gave authenticity to the less than glamorous life of boxing. Dinner at the Sporting Club contains some fine acting, especially from its lead actor John Thaw(one of my favourites and the main attraction into seeing it), it is a role so completely different from Jack Regan, along with Morse one of Thaw's most iconic characters. To say that this role is far more nuanced is an understatement, but Thaw here outstandingly shows how he was hardly an actor who played the same role and in so short a time frame, especially at the end. Billy McColl brings humour and tragedy to his character, and balances them beautifully with neither outweighing the other. Look out for Liam Neeson in an early and quite short role, but the whole cast was very good. Other than Thaw's performance it was the writing that made Dinner at the Sporting Club as good as it was. The dialogue is very intelligently written, it's funny and also moving, even for a story revolving around a less than glamorous profession Dinner at the Sporting Club was quite rich in humanity. The storytelling draws you in with no trouble at all, what was further impressive was how it had social satire, political allegory and was a character study and actually worked in all three areas in a way that not many films/TV programmes master. The satire is sharp and funny in a warm way; the political allegorical elements remarkably show no bias and approached in a way that is anything but mean-spirited and the character study felt very touching and real, helped by that all the characters are actually interesting. To conclude, a superb drama in every aspect especially for Thaw and the writing. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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