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The Wednesday Play: The Big Breaker (BBC Drama, Rupert Davies)

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The Wednesday Play

Original Publicity: Daphne Slater, Nigel Stock and Rupert Davies in tonight’s play – The Big Breaker – “She might just as well have stayed on the edge of the water and not got wet at all, than go fiddlin’ around, way out of reach of the big breakers”. So says Wally Cross of Sybil, his nephew Elvet’s wife, and her twenty years of deadly boredom in a small town. But Wally is himself The Big Breaker who comes crashing into Sybil’s life. For while recuperating in her house from a mild heart-attack, this ageing yet virile rough diamond comes to the realisation that his erratic and none-too-scrupulous career in Welsh politics no longer means anything. Having decided to live in his own way from now on, Wally, who has always got what he wanted, determines to get Sybil.

This fourth play in the new season of international drama is the work of Alun Richards, Cardiff schoolmaster, novelist, and dramatist whose previous BBC Television productions include Oh Captain, My Captain and The Elephant You Gave Me. In tonight’s powerful drama of provincial life, he explores the problem of individual choice under social pressure. For Sybil and Elvet it is really too late. But for the younger generation, there is hope. Making no demands on life, they are better equipped to respond than their elders who are trapped in a life-denying worship of security and respectability. The play has a particularly point of interest in that viewers long familiar with Rupert Davies as Maigret can see him in a completely different role as the Welsh man of action, Wally Cross.

In the production directed by Charles Jarrott, Sybil is played by Daphne Slater, while Nigel Stock appears as Elvet, plotting the downfall of his uncle: “County Councillor Wallace Cross … thirty years of public life, thirty years of public malpractice”. (Radio Times, November 12, 1964).

Series: The Wednesday Play Season 1 Episode 4

Cast: Rupert Davies (Councillor Wally Cross), Nigel Stock (Elvet), Daphne Slater (Sybil), Edward Evans (Will-i-Willis), Meg Wynn Owen (Josie) and Leonard Cracknell (Nigel)

Writer: Alun Richards / Producer: Peter Luke / Director: Charles Jarrott

UK/ BBC One / 1×90 minute episode / Broadcast 18 November 1964