BBC2 Playhouse (1973–1983)
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Caught on a Train 

Peter boards a train to attend an important business meeting across Europe. His train trip is made more complicated by two women also assigned to his train compartment. One is an ... See full summary »

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
... Frau Messner
... Peter
Wendy Raebeck ... Lorraine
... Preston
Ingo Mogendorf ... Kellner
Louis Sheldon ... Dietrich
Michael Kingsbury ... Hans
John Dolan ... Small Man in Mac
Christopher Frederick ... German Guard
Ken Shaw ... German Guard
Terry Gurry ... Belgian Guard
Baron Casanov ... Fat Man
Martin Phillips ... Belgian Youth
Richard Merson ... Porter
Lex van Delden ... Waiter
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Storyline

Peter boards a train to attend an important business meeting across Europe. His train trip is made more complicated by two women also assigned to his train compartment. One is an independent American whom Peter finds attractive. The other is Frau Messner - an extremely particular and demanding older European woman. Between the two of them, they try different aspects of Peter's patience... Written by Anonymous

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31 October 1980 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
A landmark in British television
17 May 2007 | by See all my reviews

Stephen Poliakoff's wonderfully dark and darkly comic "Caught on a Train" could just have easily been written by Kafka as Michael Kitchen's Joseph K-like young Englishman finds his train journey across Europe turning into something of a nightmare after meeting a supercilious, interfering old German lady who is the ultimate passenger from hell. Poliakoff uses these two characters to contrast the old and the new Europe. Ashcroft's aristocratic old Nazi may be symptomatic of a nightmarish dying breed but it is she who has the strength; her kind may have died out but she is a survivor while Kitchen's facile young go-getter 'just doesn't care' as Ashcroft's Frau Messner says. He typifies a divided and largely inconsequential modern Europe.

In these roles both Michael Kitchen and Peggy Ashcroft are superb. Ashcroft's performance here is a legendary piece of television acting and Poliakoff's play, (it is beautifully directed by Peter Duffel), a landmark in British television drama. Ashcroft may be the instigator of all Kitchen's troubles but almost everyone he meets adds to them in some way; his attempt to pick up a beautiful American girl is rebuked by her denunciation of virtually everyone she has met since crossing the Atlantic. Nor is the hint of violence very far away, (Kitchen is finally driven to lift his hand to the old lady). Yes, this is sublime and disquieting stuff. Poliakoff may have borrowed from Kafka but his vision remains truly his own.


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