Play For Today: Just Your Luck (BBC-1 1972, Lesley Mackie, David Hayman)

In the fabulous Play For Today Just Your Luck young Alison has a great opportunity to escape from the drudgery of her Scottish tenement life thanks to her relationship with promising foorballer Joe Johnson, but tired of his prefering training to spending time with her she begins going out with poorly paid Alec. Before you know it she is pregnant and facing the prospect of marriage to Alec and moving into the tiny family home with him, his parents and his elderly grandfather.

Just Your Luck is a staggering piece of drama, a classic vintage style Play on TV in fact, very limited location filming and with most of the action taking place in the homes of the two familes. There is fantastically realistic dialogue even if most of it is buried in thick, impenatrable Scottish accents. The girl’s father is surprisingly sympathetic to her situation despite the fact that her mother is ranting and raving all over the place. One of the key scenes is the meeting of the two sets of parents for the first time, the mums determined to make things go their way (in a quietly understated fashion that is) and the dads happy to drink a beer or three.

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Great ending too with “welcome to my world” playing over the soundtrack as Alison joins her mother at her knitting circle.

Speaking years later to the BBC McDougall remarked  “there is a rawness about that piece of work and an honesty and truthfulness that is felt in the characters who were relentless and unforgiving and that is exactly what they were like.”

production details
UK / BBC-1 / 1×65 minute episode / Broadcast 4 December 1972

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Writer: Peter McDougall / Script Editor: Ann Scott / Costumes: Prue Handley / Production Design: Susan Spence / Producer: Graeme McDonald / Director: Mike Newell

Series: Play For Today / Season 3 Episode 9

MARY RIGGANS as Betsie Hawkins
GERARD SLEVIN as Colin Hawkins
EILEEN McCALLUM as Isa Johnson
JOSEPH GREIG as Joe Johnson
AUSTIN HYSLOP as Alec’s 1st Mate
ALLAN CRAIG as Alec’s 2nd Mate
KEVIN COLLINS as Grandfather
HELEN NORMAN as Auntie Maymie
JEAN FAULDS as Aunty Cathy
BALFOUR SHARP as Hawkins Boy
BRIAN PETTIFER as Youth at Wedding
HAMISH ROUGHEAD as Alison’s Uncle
BETTY CARDNO as Alison’s Aunt

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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.