TV UK TV

Play For Today: Stocker’s Copper (BBC-1 1972, Gareth Thomas, Bryan Marshall)

Stocker's Copper

A brilliant entry in the Play For Today strand based on real life events that happened in Cornwall in 1913 when a large number of specially trained Welsh policemen were sent to a small Cornish village and billeted in the homes of clay miners who were on strike. One of the coppers Herbert Griffith is sent to stay with the Stocker family (none of the miners are keen to have the policemen around but at 12 shillings a week can’t afford to say no) and after an initial period of mistrust Griffith and Manuel Stocker become friends.

However the situation begins to deteriorate for the miners with black legs who have continued working showing no signs of stopping and plans are made by the miners to take action to get rid of them. As matters come to a head the police and the picketing miners are drawn towards an inevitable deadly confrontation and neither Griffith or Stocker are prepared to stand aside.

Shot on 16mm this is a production to be savoured, it evokes a real sense of period. Strong central performances too from Thomas and Marshall, Griffith and Stocker do become friends but there is still the sense that they don’t really understand where the other is coming from. In fact its one of the key motifs of the film and its a way of cleverly bringing the political aspect of the drama to the audience without really pushing it at them. Six weeks after the police and miners fought all the men returned to work on the employer’s terms. The film was made with the co-operation of English Clays Co Ltd, Goonvean China Clay Co Lt and the Dart Valley Railway.

production details
UK / BBC One / 1×85 minute episode / Broadcast 20 January 1972 @ 9.20pm

Writer: Tom Clarke / Script Editor: Ann Scott / Costumes: Sally Neiper / Music: Treviscoe Male Choir, St Dennis Silver Band and Carl Davis / Production Design: Austen Spriggs / Producer: Graeme McDonald / Director: Jack Gold

cast
GARETH THOMAS as Herbert Griffith
BRYAN MARSHALL as Manuel Stocker
JANE LAPOTAIRE as Alice Stocker
TONY CAUNTER as Vincent
MALCOLM TIERNEY as Reverend Booth Coventry
DOMINIC ALLAN as Glamorgan Sergeant
WILLIAM MOORE as Engine Man
ANGELA BILLING, BARRY HAWKEN as Stocker children
HARRY LITTLEWOOD as Clay Worker
MICHAEL BEINT as Cornish Supt
DON McKILLOP as Cornish P.C.