Cathy Come Home (The Wednesday Play BBC-1 1966, Carol White)

Made for The Wednesday Play in 1966, the shattering story of a young homeless couple caught in a poverty trap led to the formation of the homeless charity Shelter, and also helped to invent an entirely new kind of television drama.

Director Ken Loach and producer Tony Garnett were keen to get their plays out of the studio and to harness documentary and newsreel techniques. Working with unknown actors to achieve performances of uncanny naturalism through improvisation, the resulting film, with its agit-prop narrations and fly-on-the-wall atmosphere, is as close to documentary as drama can be.

Cathy Come Home was written by Eton and Oxford educated Jeremy Sandford, who insisted that the upper classes are completely written out, and whose strong social conscience had already led him to write angry documentaries and passionate journalism attacking the flaws in the welfare state. After the play won huge acclaim and awards, and raised furious debate in the Houses Of Parliament, Sandford followed it up with his brilliant BAFTA winning 1971 Play For Today Edna The Inebriate Woman. A third play was planned but never made, provisionally entitled Till The End Of The Plums, which was to have exposed the plight of gypsies, a subject Sandford devoted much of his life too.

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Jeremy Sandford died on 12th May 2003, but the power and integrity of Cathy Come Home will outlive us all.

production details
UK | BBC One | 1×80 minutes | Broadcast 16 November 1966

Writer: Jeremy Sandford
Producer: Tony Garnett
Director: Ken Loach

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 3 Episode 4

Carol White as Cathy Ward
Ray Brooks as Reg Ward
Wally Patch as Grandad
Adrienne Frame as Eileen
Winifred Dennis as Mrs. Ward
Emmett Hennessy as Johnny
Alec Coleman as Wedding Guest
Geoffrey Palmer as Property Agent
Gabrielle Hamilton as Welfare Officer
Phyllis Hickson as Mrs. Alley
Frank Veasey as Mr. Hodge
Barry Jackson as Rent Collector
James Benton as Man at Eviction
Ruth Kettlewell as Judge
John Baddeley as Housing Officer
Kathleen Broadhurst as Landlady
Ralph Lawton as Health Inspector
Lennard Pearce as Ratepayer

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.