Monday, 22 February 2010

Heartbreaking & Hard Hitting Drama...No Joke

C/-\T-Y C0/\/\E -0/\/\E 1 1966

"Cathy Come Home" although now 44 years old, is still one of Britain's most highly-acclaimed dramas. This one-off episode (split into 8 parts on Youtube)adapted for the BBC's "The Wednesday Play", a precursor to "Play for Today", featured a non-serial play for each week with a new set of characters and storytelling, however "Cathy Comes Home" sticks out a mile. It's the worst scenario you could ever hope for, for a young aspiring family with a newly-born child. Despite the relaxation of laws and prejudices in the 1960s, the programme was revered as shocking and profiled such issues that were before swept under the carpet, such as homelessness, right to child custody and unemploment. It also shows a lack of care from the state, who feel that Cathy (played by Carol White) and partner Reg (Played by Ray Brooks) have only themselves to blame.

This is a must-see for all lovers of nostalgic UK TV. The programme starts with a blossoming and aspiring relationship between Cathy and Reg. Cathy is much like the young women of that generation, a sense of adventure and freedom, but still with a strong set of morals. Also there is a Seeing her being quite stroppy about Reg's swearing-which we don't hear- is a facet of changing times today, but that is a given, being 44 years old. Reg is happy-go-lucky but arrogant about making it big, and making big money, but this heightens the part of the programme where it all comes crashing down. The Youtube clips have English subtitles, this is extra helpful though.

12 million viewers were with baited breath as Reg suffers an injury after their child is born and is unable to work. They are unable to pay the bills and the dreaded bailiffs evict them from their home. The social services see Cathy as unfit to keep the child, as they have no secure form of shelter, as they illegally squat in empty houses out of sheer desperation.

This was very near-the-knuckle and gritty for it's time, and it is still sends a powerful message today. Directed by then unknown, now critically acclaimed British directer Ken Loach, this was what Loach did best in TV drama, social realism. The play was also written by Jeremy Sandford, and produced by Tony Garnett. The programme was charted in 2000, as the second, yes, the second Greatest British TV Programme of all time! So don't just read my blurb, watch the bloody thing!

Reality and fiction became blurred, as British actress Carol White, who played Cathy, saw her acting career go downhill through alcholism and drugs, after the 1960s. She also appeared in the film "Poor Cow" (1967), an almost mirror image to her previous role, and another 1967 film "I'll Never Forget What's'isname" with cast of the highest order starring Oliver Reed(which she had a relationship with) and Orson Welles, which takes a look at the world of business in advertising. Carol died in 1991 from a suspected drug overdose at the age of 48.

Opposite Carol White, Ray Brooks went on to even greater fame, being the narration behind the 70s animation classic "Mr. Benn".

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