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Play For Today: Schmoedipus (BBC-1 1974, Anna Cropper, Tim Curry)



In Schmoedipus, a Play For Today entry from the 1974 season, Elizabeth is more than a little shocked when a young man turns up on her doorstep claiming to be the son she had adopted when she was a teenager. His name is Glen and he appears to know all about the facts surrounding his birth but Glen’s demeanour is quite menacing. He tells his “mother” that he is upset that he missed out on his upbringing with her and wants to physically return to his childhood. Elizabeth is even more perturbed when Glen reveals he has walked out of a mental institution. Meanwhile Elizabeth’s train obsessed husband is going through something of a crisis at work…

Schmoedipus is pretty much almost the classic Potter format, a stranger inveilgling their way into a suburban house hold. The overall tone is quite disturbing, Tim Curry is excellent and the Al Jolson-esque Mother song he sings is just fabulous, the last fifteen minutes turns the whole thing on its head for a brilliant denoument and as usual you are left shaking your head at Potter’s audicity and skill.

Potter would later rework the script for the film Track 29 starring Theresa Russell in the Anna Cropper role.

production details
UK / BBC-1 / 1×75 minute episode / Broadcast 20 June 1974


Writer: Dennis Potter / Production Design: Peter Seddon / Producer: Kenith Trodd / Director: Barry Davis

ANNA CROPPER as Elizabeth Carter
JOHN CARSON as Tom Carter
REG CRANFIELD as Man in Corridor

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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