TV UK TV

Play For Today: Early Struggles (BBC-1 1976, Paul Nicholas, Tom Conti)

In the superb Play For Today; Early Struggles, Paul Nicholas is struggling musician Kevin whose girlfriend has walked out on him leaving him to look after their 11 month old baby girl. He is doing the best he can but feels that his time to make it in the business is running out. He is troubled by an upcoming appointment at the baby clinic believing that they will want to take the child away from him if they feel he can’t cope and also feels the need to help out his friend Barron who is sleeping rough on the common and on the verge of succumbing to alcoholism.

Captures that run down essence of the seventies in all its council flat, flaky paint non-glamour. Wonderfully melancholic but also rather endearing too. It’s basically a two hander between Conti and Nicholas and Conti in particular is superb as the totally wasted Barron who finds some kind of salvation in helping Kevin care for his child, the role carries clear future echoes of his performances in the following years The Norman Conquests. Amanda Barrie is almost unrecognisable as Kevin’s sister Joyce.

classic quotes
“He does love the child”
“That’s not enough though is it”

production details
UK / BBC-1 / 1×60 minute episode / Broadcast 30 March 1976

Writer: Peter Prince / Script Editor: Colin Tucker / Music Advisor: Brian Gascoigne / Production Assistants: Renny Rye, Fiona Cumming / Costumes: Dorothea Wallace / Production Design: Moira Tait / Producer: Graeme McDonald / Director: Stephen Frears

Series: Play For Today

cast
PAUL NICHOLAS as Kevin
TOM CONTI as Barron
AMANDA BARRIE as Joyce
HILARY MASON as Mum
EDDIE DAVIES as Dad
GWYNETH STRONG as Carol
STEPHEN REA as Chas
CHARLOTTE CORNWELL as Doctor
HUGH FRASER as Musician
JESSICA SWIFT as Musician’s Girlfriend
GONZALES as Group
MIRANDA MAYORCAS, CLAIRE MAYORCAS, JONATHAN OWEN, DAGAN BAYLISS as Tracy