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Play For Today: Edna The Inebriate Woman (BBC-1 1971, Patricia Hayes)



Edna The Inebriate Woman was a drama in the Play For Today strand. An elderly bag lady refuses to be helped out of her predicament.

After Cathy Come Home this was activist writer Jeremy Sandford’s second most important production (the novel of Edna had also been published earlier in the year), he used the comedic and bathetic skills of Patricia Hayes to great affect in this at times heartbreaking drama. Sean Day-Lewis in The Times said it was “all the more truthful for being so well laced with comedy.”

Also in The Times (22 Oct 71) Chris Dunkley reviewed the production saying “as usual there will be those who object to being preached at. But since the dawn of drama playwrights have been using their special positions to preach and to single out Sandford for criticism is only to emphasize the extraordinary success of his chosen methods of getting his message across.”

Edna The Inebriate Woman was repeated the following year on 2 March 1972 and again in 1977 (20 August) as part of the BBC’s Festival 77 series of important productions. It was then shown again on 3 November 1986 as an example of the BBC’s important play output over the years.


production details
UK / BBC-1 / 1×90 minute episode / Broadcast 21 October 1971

Writer: Jeremy Sandford / Producer: Irene Shubik / Director: Ted Kotcheff

Play For Today / Season 2 Episode 2

Patricia Hayes as Edna
Barbara Jefford as Josie
Pat Nye as Irene
June Watson as Attendant At The Spike
Denis Carey as Doctor At The Spike
Jerry Verno as Old Man
Rex Rashley as Old Man
Walter Sparrow as Proprietor of Common Lodging House
Amelia Bayntun as Jessie
Douglas Ditta as Social Security Clerk
Chris Gannon as Tramp
Talfryn Thomas as Tramp
Charles Farrell as Tramp
Vivian Mackerrell as Tramp
Marie Conmee as Paddy At Common Lodging House
Jenny Logan as Doris, On The Road
Anthony Dawes as Man in Car
Elaine Mitchell as Social Security Official
John Hussey as Psychiatrist
Dorothy Lane as Old Woman
Patsy O’Shea as Old Woman
June Brown as Clara
Jumoke Debayo as Staff Nurse
Jo Maxwell Muller as Nina
Malcolm Terris as Psychiatrist in Hospital
Keith Marsh as Porter
Eamonn Boyce as Proprietor of Lodging House
James Cairncross as Rogo At Charitable Institution
Virginia Snyder as Bed Ticket Proprietor
Alex Marshall as Social Security Clerk
Norman Lumsden as Magistrate
Mark Moss as Policeman
Merelina Kendall as Nun
Frances Tomelty as Nun
Freda Dowie as Mother Superior
John Trigger as Graham
Geraldine Sherman as Trudi
Cheryl Hall as Vangi
Kate Williams as Teresa
Roger Hammond as Victor
Peggy Aitchison as Lil
Jeffrey Segal as Counsel At Public Hearing
David Garth as Defence
George Belbin as Chairman


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.

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