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Penda’s Fen (Play For Today BBC-1 21 Mar 1974 with Spencer Banks and Ian Hogg)

UK / BBC One / 1×90 minute episode / Broadcast 21 March 1974

Series: Play For Today / Season 4 Episode 16

Writer: David Rudkin / Script Editor: Tara Prem / Costumes: Joyce Hawkins / Special Effects: Clifford Culley / Animation: Bernard Lodge / Radiophonic Sound: Paddy Kingsland / Production Design: Michael Edwards / Producer: David Rose / Director: Alan Clarke

In Play For Today Penda’s Fen young Stephen Franklin is on the cusp of adulthood, about to leave school but more concerned with upholding what he sees as a correct view of English life as espoused by his Parson father, however a mystical encounter is the catalyst for Stephen to question everything he has previously thought.

Fabulous dialogue and with much that is certainly even more relevent today than it was in the seventies, much of what Rudkin talks about with regards to entertainment, the environment and life has come to pass. Ian Hogg is clearly playing a version of Rudkin himself as the writer who shakes up Stephen’s ideas about the world around him.

A good performance too from Spencer Banks as the young man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and the whole notion of the drama is very much left in the mind and eyes of the viewer, how much is what Stephen experiences real and how much is his fevered imagination.

cast
SPENCER BANKS as Stephen
JOHN ATKINSON as Reverend J. Franklin
GEORGINE ANDERSON as Mrs Franklin
RON SMERCZAK as Joel
IAN HOGG as Arne
JENNIE HESLEWOOD as Mrs Arne
GRAHAM LEAMAN as Sir Edward Elgar
CHRISTOPHER DOUGLAS as Honeybone
JOHN RICHMOND as Headmaster
IVOR ROBERTS as Cooke
JOAN SCOTT as The Lady
RAY GATENBY as The Man
HELENA McCARTHY as Mrs Kings
JOYCE GRUNDY as Mrs Gisbourne
FRANK VEASEY as Council Workman
ELIZABETH REVILL as Nurse
MORAY BLACK as Sixth Former
JOHN SCOTT as Sir Nicholas Pole
ROY PRESTON as Brott
PAT BOWKER as Joel’s Girl
GEOFFREY STAINES as King Penda
GEOFFREY PENNELLS as Demon
MARTIN REYNOLDS as Angel

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