Cathy Come Home

Cathy Come Home is a 1966 BBC television play by Jeremy Sandford, produced by Tony Garnett and directed by Ken Loach, about homelessness. A 1998 Radio Times readers' poll voted it the "best single television drama" and a 2000 industry poll rated it as the second best British television programme ever made.[2][3] Filmed in a gritty, realistic drama documentary style, it was first broadcast on 16 November 1966 on BBC1. The play was shown in the BBC's The Wednesday Play anthology strand, which often tackled social issues.

Cathy Come Home
Written byJeremy Sandford
Directed byKen Loach
StarringCarol White
Ray Brooks
Composer(s)Paul Jones
Michael Giddings[1]
Country of originUK
Production
Producer(s)Tony Garnett
CinematographyTony Imi
Editor(s)Roy Watts
Running time75 minutes
Release
Original networkBBC1
Original release16 November 1966 (UK)
Chronology
Related showsThe Wednesday Play

Plot

The play tells the story of a young couple, Cathy (played by Carol White) and Reg (Ray Brooks), and their descent into poverty and homelessness. At the start of the film, Cathy leaves her parents' overcrowded rural home and hitchhikes to the city, where she finds work and meets Reg, a well-paid lorry driver. They fall in love, marry, and rent a modern flat in a building that does not allow children. Cathy soon becomes pregnant and must stop working, and Reg is injured on the job and becomes unemployed. The loss of income and birth of the baby force them to leave their flat, and they are unable to find another affordable place to live that permits children.

They move in with Reg's mother, until tensions develop between her and Cathy in the crowded flat. A kind elderly landlady, Mrs. Alley, rents to them for a while, during which time Cathy has two more children. Mrs. Alley even allows them to stay when they fall behind on the rent. However, she dies suddenly and her nephew and heir has the family evicted by bailiffs. The family then moves to a caravan parked in a camp where several other families are already living in caravans, but the local residents object to the camp and set it on fire, killing several children. Cathy, Reg and their children are forced to illegally squat in a wrecked, abandoned building. They repeatedly try to get decent housing through the local council, but are not helped because of their many moves and the long list of other people also seeking housing assistance.

Cathy and Reg decide to separate temporarily so that Cathy and the children can move into an emergency homeless shelter where husbands are not allowed to stay. Reg leaves the area to seek employment. Cathy's loneliness and frustration finally boil over and she becomes belligerent with the shelter authorities, who are often cold and judgmental towards the women living in the shelter. Cathy's allotted time at the shelter expires while Reg is away, and she and her two remaining children (one having been sent to live with Reg's mother) have no place to go. They go to a railway station, where Cathy's children are taken away from her by social services.

Reception

The play broached issues that were not then widely discussed in the popular media, such as homelessness, unemployment and the rights of mothers to keep their own children. It was watched by 12 million people – a quarter of the British population at the time – on its first broadcast. Its hard-hitting subject matter and highly realistic documentary style, new to British television, created a huge impact on its audience.

One commentator called it "an ice-pick in the brain of all who saw it". The play produced a storm of phone calls to the BBC, and discussion in Parliament. For years afterwards Carol White was stopped in the street by people pressing money into her hand, convinced she must be actually homeless.[4]

In a 2000 poll of industry professionals conducted by the British Film Institute to determine the BFI TV 100 of the 20th century, Cathy Come Home was voted second (the highest-placed drama on the list), behind the comedy Fawlty Towers. In 2005 it was named by Broadcast as the UK's most influential TV programme of all time.[5][6]

Impact

In the light of public reaction to the film, and following a publicity campaign led by Willam Shearman and Iain Macleod highlighting the plight of the homeless, the charity Crisis was formed the following year in 1967.

By coincidence, another charity for the homeless, Shelter, was launched a few days after the first broadcast. Though it was not connected to the programme, "the film alerted the public, the media, and the government to the scale of the housing crisis, and Shelter gained many new supporters."[7]

However, Ken Loach has said that despite the public outcry following the play, it had little practical effect in reducing homelessness other than changing rules so that homeless fathers could stay with their wives and children in hostels.[4] Indeed, housing policy was only considerably reformed over a decade later with the passing of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977.[8]

Cast

Production

The play was written by Jeremy Sandford, produced by Tony Garnett and directed by Ken Loach, who went on to become a major figure in British film. Loach employed a realistic documentary style, using predominantly 16 mm film on location, which contrasted with the vast amount of BBC drama of the time, the bulk of which was entirely shot in a television studio. Union regulations of the time forced about ten minutes of Cathy Come Home to be shot in this way, with the material shot in a studio on electronic cameras being telerecorded and spliced into the film as required.

The cinematographer was Tony Imi. Imi's innovative use of a hand-held camera to take moving action shots and close-ups gave Cathy almost a feel of a current affairs broadcast and a realism which was rare in British TV drama at the time. This produced shots some traditionalists thought "not technically acceptable". Imi commented: "I was stuck in a rut after working on Dr Finlay's Casebook and Maigret – standard BBC productions. All of a sudden, with The Wednesday Play and Ken, there was a newness that fitted into the way I was thinking at the time."

Loach's naturalistic style helped to heighten the play's impact. Many scenes were improvised, and some include unknowing members of the public, such as the final scene in which Cathy's children are taken from her at a railway station (none of the passers-by intervened).[4]

Broadcast history and availability

After the first transmission in 1966, the play was repeated on BBC1 on 11 January 1967, 13 November 1968 and again on BBC2 on 11 August 1976. It was also screened by Channel 4 on 31 March 1993 as part of a season of programmes on homelessness, and by BBC Four in a season on the same subject in 2006. BBC Four also aired this drama on 5 and 11 June 2003 (shown as part of Time Shift). On 31 July 2016 it was repeated on BBC Four as part of a retrospective on 1966 & repeated again on BBC Four on 13 November 2016.

In 2003 the play was released on VHS and DVD by the British Film Institute with an audio commentary by Loach, and original production documentation (the BFI has screened the play on numerous occasions, including in a 2011 Ken Loach film festival). In 2011 the play was re-released on DVD by 2 Entertain with audio commentary by Loach. Along with other Loach films, it is currently available to watch on Loach's YouTube channel. It is also available as a special feature on the 2011 Criterion Blu-ray and DVD release of Kes, another Ken Loach film.

Theme song

The song that is played at the beginning and end of the film is a cover version of "500 Miles" by Sonny & Cher.

References

  1. ^ "Air Marshal Sir Michael Giddings". The Daily Telegraph. London. 13 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  2. ^ Childs, Peter; Storry, Michael, eds. (1999). Encyclopaedia of Contemporary British Culture. London: Routledge. p. 159. ISBN 9780415147262.
  3. ^ Duguid, Mark. "Cathy Come Home (1966)". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Witness: Cathy Come Home". BBC World Service. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Television that changed our world". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 22 July 2005. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Top 10 TV Programmes That Changed The World". London Evening Standard. London. 22 July 2005. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Our history". Shelter. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  8. ^ Fitzpatrick, Suzanne, and Hal Pawson. “Fifty Years since Cathy Come Home: Critical Reflections on the UK Homelessness Safety Net.” International Journal of Housing Policy 16, no. 4 (October 1, 2016): 543–55.

External links

27A

27A is a 1974 Australian film directed by Esben Storm. At the AFI Awards it won in the Best Actor (Robert McDarra) and Best Fiction (Haydn Keenan) categories.

Andria Lawrence

Andria Lawrence (born 20 June 1941 in London, England) is an English actress, best known for her roles in On the Buses First as Suzie and later as Betty and Coronation Street as Janet Stockwell and Countess Dracula (1971).

Cardboard Citizens

Cardboard Citizens is the UK's only homeless people's professional theatre company, and the leading practitioner of Forum Theatre and the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology in the UK. The acclaimed Theatre Company works with people who have experience of homelessness or those at risk of becoming homeless to create theatre that makes a real and positive difference to society and those living in its margins.

Carol White

Carole Joan White (1 April 1943 – 16 September 1991) was an English actress.

She achieved a public profile with her performances in the television play Cathy Come Home (1966) and the films Poor Cow (1967) and I'll Never Forget What's 'isname (1967), but alcoholism and drug abuse damaged her career, and from the early 1970s she worked infrequently.

Crisis (charity)

Crisis is the UK national charity for homeless people. The charity offers year-round education, employment, housing and well-being services from centres in London, Newcastle, Oxford, Edinburgh and Merseyside, called Crisis Skylight Centres.As well as year-round services Crisis runs Crisis at Christmas, which since 1972 has been offering food, warmth, companionship and vital services to homeless people over the Christmas period. In 2016 almost 4,600 homeless people visited Crisis at Christmas, which was run by about 10,500 volunteers.

Since its inception Crisis has been a campaigning organisation, lobbying government for political change that prevents and mitigates homelessness based on research commissioned and undertaken by the organisation.

Edna, the Inebriate Woman

Edna, the Inebriate Woman is a British television drama starring Patricia Hayes. The film, which was written by award-winning screenwriter Jeremy Sandford, was first broadcast on BBC 1 as part of the Play for Today series on 21 October 1971. It was directed by Ted Kotcheff and produced by Irene Shubik. Filming took place in November and December 1970.

In Two Minds

In Two Minds is a television play by David Mercer commissioned for The Wednesday Play (BBC 1) anthology drama series. First transmitted on 1 March 1967, it was directed by Ken Loach and produced by Tony Garnett and features Anna Cropper in the lead role.

Jeremy Sandford

Christopher Jeremy Sandford (5 December 1930 – 12 May 2003) was an English television screenwriter who came to prominence in 1966 with Cathy Come Home, his controversial entry in BBC1's The Wednesday Play anthology strand, which was directed by Ken Loach. Later, in 1971, he wrote another successful one-off, Edna, the Inebriate Woman, for The Wednesday Play's successor series Play for Today.

John Mackenzie (film director)

John Leonard Duncan Mackenzie (22 May 1928 – 8 June 2011) was a Scottish film director who worked in British film from the late 1960s, first as an assistant director and later as an independent director himself.

Ken Loach

Kenneth Charles Loach (born 17 June 1936) is an English director of television and independent film. His socially critical directing style and socialist ideals are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as poverty (Poor Cow, 1967), homelessness (Cathy Come Home, 1966) and labour rights (Riff-Raff, 1991, and The Navigators, 2001).

Loach's film Kes (1969) was voted the seventh greatest British film of the 20th century in a poll by the British Film Institute. Two of his films, The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) and I, Daniel Blake (2016) received the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making him the ninth filmmaker to win the award twice.Loach, a social campaigner for most of his career, believes the current criteria for claiming benefits in the UK are "a Kafka-esque, Catch-22 situation designed to frustrate and humiliate the claimant to such an extent that they drop out of the system and stop pursuing their right to ask for support if necessary".

Kitchen sink realism

Kitchen sink realism (or kitchen sink drama) is a British cultural movement that developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film, and television plays, whose protagonists usually could be described as "angry young men" who were disillusioned with modern society. It used a style of social realism, which depicted the domestic situations of working class Britons, living in cramped rented accommodation and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore controversial social and political issues ranging from abortion to homelessness. The harsh, realistic style contrasted sharply with the escapism of the previous generation's so-called "well-made plays".

The films, plays and novels employing this style are often set in poorer industrial areas in the North of England, and use the accents and slang heard in those regions. The film It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) is a precursor of the genre, and the John Osborne play Look Back in Anger (1956) is thought of as the first of the genre. The gritty love-triangle of Look Back in Anger, for example, takes place in a cramped, one-room flat in the English Midlands. Shelagh Delaney's 1958 play A Taste of Honey (which was made into a film of the same name in 1961), is about a teenage schoolgirl who has an affair with a black sailor, gets pregnant, and then moves in with a gay male acquaintance; it raises issues such as class, race, gender and sexual orientation. The conventions of the genre have continued into the 2000s, finding expression in such television shows as Coronation Street and EastEnders.In art, "Kitchen Sink School" was a term used by critic David Sylvester to describe painters who depicted social realist–type scenes of domestic life.

Lennard Pearce

Lennard Pearce (9 February 1915 – 15 December 1984) was an English actor who worked mostly in the theatre, but also appeared in British television programmes. He starred in the last years of his life as Grandad in the sitcom Only Fools and Horses, from its beginning in September 1981 until he died in December 1984.

Lila Kaye

Lila Kaye (7 November 1929 – 10 January 2012) was an English actress. She spent a number of years working in the United States, on Broadway and in television, before returning to England.

Born in Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, she often played motherly and/or comedic characters, mostly on television, including Cathy Come Home (1966) as a staff member at a homeless shelter, and My Son Reuben (1975), co-starring Bernard Spear, as a Jewish mother and her bachelor son who jointly run a dry-cleaning business. She also appeared in films including Blind Terror (1971), The Black Panther (1977) and Quincy's Quest (1979), and found film success in later years for her performances in An American Werewolf in London (1981) as the conflicted rural barmaid trying to warn off the two doomed American backpackers, in Nuns on the Run (1990) as a formidable nun, and in Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story (1991; an American television film), in which she played Dorothy Ireland, the real-life mother of cancer-stricken actress Jill Ireland (played by Jill Clayburgh). Kaye appeared in Bert Rigby, You're a Fool (1989) as Mrs. Pennington, and in Dragonworld (1994) as Mrs. Cosgrove.

In 1991, Lila played headmistress Mrs. Daphne Trout in series two and the first half of series three of the children's BBC TV Series Bodger and Badger.She appeared as a nurse in a notable Royal Shakespeare Company production of John Vanbrugh's play, The Relapse, at the Aldwych Theatre in London in 1967, alongside, among others, Donald Sinden, Patrick Stewart and Ben Kingsley. She debuted the role of Serafima Ilinitchna in Nikolai Erdman's The Suicide (1979). She was part of the cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company's epic stage production of Nicholas Nickleby on Broadway in 1981.

Kaye starred in the title role of the short-lived U.S. television series Mama Malone a year later. She made guest appearances on several U.S. television series, such as Murder, She Wrote, Cheers and Dear John (reuniting her with An American Werewolf In London co-star Jenny Agutter). She resided in Florida before returning to Britain. Her last role was in the British television serial Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde in 1998, in which she appeared as "Granny Jekyll". After this role she announced her retirement.

Ray Brooks (actor)

Raymond Michael Brooks (born 20 April 1939 in Brighton, Sussex) is an English television and film actor.

Shelter (charity)

Shelter is a registered charity that campaigns to end homelessness and bad housing in England and Scotland. It gives advice, information and advocacy to people in need, and tackles the root causes of bad housing by lobbying government and local authorities for new laws and policies to improve the lives of homeless and badly housed people. It works in partnership with Shelter Cymru in Wales and the Housing Rights Service in Northern Ireland.This charity was founded in 1966 and raised 60.9 million pounds in 2016/17.

Shelter helps people in housing need by providing advice and practical assistance, and fights for better investment in housing and for laws and policies to improve the lives of homeless and badly housed people.

Television studies

Television studies is an academic discipline that deals with critical approaches to television. Usually, it is distinguished from mass communication research, which tends to approach the topic from a social sciences perspective. Defining the field is problematic; some institutions and syllabuses do not distinguish it from media studies or classify it as a subfield of popular culture studies.

One form of television studies is roughly equivalent to the longer-standing discipline of film studies in that it is often concerned with textual analysis yet other approaches center more on the social functions of television. For example, analyses of quality television, such as Cathy Come Home and Twin Peaks, have attracted the interests of researchers for their cinematic qualities. However, television studies can also incorporate the study of television viewing and how audiences make meaning from texts, which is commonly known as audience theory or reception theory.

The Twilights

The Twilights were an Australian rock and pop music group of the mid- to late 1960s. Alongside their own career successes, they are also notable for the inclusion of vocalist Glenn Shorrock, who later fronted Axiom, Esperanto and Little River Band, and guitarist Terry Britten who went on to become an internationally successful songwriter and producer, and wrote major hits for artists such as Cliff Richard and Tina Turner.

The Wednesday Play

The Wednesday Play is an anthology series of British television plays which ran on BBC1 from October 1964 to May 1970. The plays were usually written for television, although adaptations from other sources also featured. The series gained a reputation for presenting contemporary social dramas, and for bringing issues to the attention of a mass audience that would not otherwise have been discussed on screen.

Some of British television drama's most influential, and controversial, plays were shown in this slot, including Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home. The earliest television plays of Dennis Potter were featured in this slot.

Up the Junction (The Wednesday Play)

Up the Junction is an episode of the BBC anthology drama series The Wednesday Play directed by Ken Loach, produced by James MacTaggart, and first broadcast on 3 November 1965 on BBC 1. The play was adapted by Nell Dunn and (uncredited) Ken Loach from Dunn's short story collection of the same name. It tells the stories of three young women living in North Battersea and Clapham and, to a lesser degree, their boyfriends.

Films directed by Ken Loach

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.