Article by Derek Paget (Circa February 2000)
When, back in 1971, the original Theatre Quarterly devoted one of its earliest issues (TQ6, 1972) to television drama, the strongest reactions were to remarks by Tony Garnett concerning the recently developed form already being dubbed documentary drama. Subsequent issues featured both an attack on the form from Paul Ableman, and a vigorous defence from its leading practitioner, Jeremy Sandford, author of the seminal Cathy Come Home (1966). As this article bears witness, the debate still rages, and here its leading historian, Derek Paget — author of True Stories: Documentary Drama on Radio, Stage, and Television (Manchester University Press, 1990) — explores some of the ways in which myth has contributed as much as analysis to the argument. He goes back to contemporary documentation to explore the nature of the BBC’s own sometimes timorous attitude to the creature it had spawned, its context within the developing aesthetics and technology of television drama, the reactions of politicians and local government agencies — and the way in which repeat transmissions were (and were not) hedged about with paranoia.
IN The New Priesthood, Joan Bakewell and Nicholas Garnham remark: ‘The feeling is strong that television drama is in retreat from the place it once held in the exchange of contemporary ideas.” 1 Odd to think this was written in 1970, when such sentiments are now so commonplace. Ineluctable change in the culture of the broadcasting industry has generated widespread pessimism about tele¬vision drama’s future potential to permit the nation (even if such a thing can be said to exist any longer) publicly to debate impor¬tant issues with itself.
Cathy Come Home (1966) has often been held up as a model of what can be achieved. In 1967 T. C. Worsley described Jeremy Sandford’s play as ‘a kind of landmark in television’, and as recently as 1997 former Channel 4 Head of Drama Peter Ansorge declared: ‘Cathy . . . changed the face of television drama.’2 Its cultural importance is as great for British television, perhaps, as the 1977 Alex Haley series Roots is for American. Both dramas ‘based on fact’ represented popular cultural acknowledgements of con¬tinuing social cruxes (the inability of British society to deal with its ‘houseless poor’, as the Victorians called them; the problem of race in American society). And both have been subject to doubt and denial, their documentary provenance complicating their reception histories. In both cultures, too, there has been widespread suspicion gener¬ally about documentary forms in drama. 3
The purpose of this article is to consider doubts cast on Cathy Come Home by an influential book — Irene Shubik’s 1975 Play for Today: the Evolution of Television Drama. But I want also to argue more generally that it is not so much ‘the facts’ as their contes¬tation which gives this veteran piece of tele¬vision drama such a purchase on continuing social and cultural discourse. Hence the scare quotes around ‘accuracy’ in my title, for debate over whether Cathy Come Home is (or, more accurately, was) true to the facts on the UK’s homelessness problem of the 1960s is more about the fight for ideas in the public sphere than anything else. As Carl Plantinga has argued recently, the address of the docu¬mentary play to its audience is one of ‘asser¬tive analogy’ to events in the real world. Television tends to make many highly public assertions. In rhetorical terms, assertion invites refutation; such was the case with Cathy Come Home.4
The initial impact of Cathy Come Home can be gauged from the fact that the Sunday Times television critic Maurice Wiggin recognized that conventional reviewing methods were unequal to the circumstances of the first transmission, on 16 November 1966. His review, ‘The Grace to Feel a Pang of Pity’ (20 November 1966), took the form of a quasi-morality play in which two characters —‘Better Self’ and ‘Worse Self’ — debated the content, form, and implications of Cathy.
‘Better Self’ (the Wigginian superego) was stung by the teleplay’s accusatory address. ‘B.S.’ responded with ringing eloquence:
‘Anything that jerks the smug oblivious multitude into passionate awareness of the horrors that lie below the bland surface of the affluent society must be welcomed and applauded.’ Wiggin’s intellectually sceptical ‘Worse Self’ responded acidly to this voice of social conscience — ‘a nice string of emotive adjectives’ — but then raised questions of enduring importance:
All right, if you think the end justifies the means. Though I’m not sure what the end is, unless you and all the other affected parties are going to rush out to dig foundations. Or vote Communist.
A Moral Play for New Times
These remarks have a subtext: can a tele¬vision drama, however ‘effective’ in terms of real-time response, produce socially signifi¬cant affects through its effects? Does the informative power of documentary enhance or throw into doubt the affective drama? The scepticism of Wiggin’s ‘Worse Sell’ has dogged the history not only of one of British television’s most famous plays but also of the mixed form in general.
‘Better Self’ pleads (in direct quotation of one of the film’s closing captions): ‘You can’t deny it was based on facts. All the terrible things that happened to Cathy and Reg in the play actually happened in Britain in the last eighteen months.’ ‘W. S.’ agrees — ‘Yet and that is ghastly — but then points to an apparent Achilles heel:
But, in fact, they happened to several couples. In the play, as you call it, they were all hung on to Cathy and Reg, with a cumulative relentlessness not even life could match, in order to produce an effect and secure a response.
This sense that the factual (documentary) lily was being impossibly gilded in the (dramatic) work, and that this somehow devalues the film as a social statement, is part of a cloud of doubt which to this day hangs over mixed-form television drama.
Jeremy Sandford turned to documentary drama having failed to get the subject of homelessness onto the screen by documen¬tary means:
I tried to quintessentialize [the subject) drama¬tically. Cathy is Everywoman, Everymother, a woman who just thinks that children are God’s gift coming up against state machinery, which result in the decimation of her family. Her natural instincts and desires are destroyed by the institutionalized violence of a state.
Today, he defends his creation from the ‘Worse Self’ view, claiming that Cathy’s was a ‘far from untypical worst case scenario’ and that her story was reinforced by the facts as he found them.5 His play’s dramatic structure mirrors the inexorability of Everyman, and this, as he observes, is not the conventional structure of modern television drama: ‘There is no nar¬rative graph of highs and lows in Cathy Come Home — the kind of thing script editors always look for these days — it is downward all the way.’ The film actually divides quite symmetrically into three ‘acts’ which en-act Cathy’s decline, fall, and descent into social hell.6
Just as it was the rhetorical purpose of Everyman to be a memento mori, convincing its audience of the rightness of Christian faith in the face of death, so it was the left-inclining rhetorical purpose of Cathy Conic Home to remind a society of its moral respon¬sibility to less fortunate citizens. Sandford believes that punitive categorization of the poor in British society has its roots in the Victorian and earlier capitalist distinctions between those who were ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’:
Labelling people as feckless n’er-do-wells -Mayhew’s ‘Those Who Will Not Work’ — is a very easy way for any society to shrug off respon¬sibility for its poorer members.7
For Loach and Garnett, too, the purpose of the film was to oppose such reductive bourgeois categorizations. In 1966, Garnett thus told an interviewer:
There are those who, for various reasons, want to preserve the social, cultural, and political status quo. But there are always people — and they exist in the arts as much as elsewhere — who want to question, who want change, who want things to be discussed. I know which group I am in.
For Ken Loach, meanwhile, the film is ‘more like a report on homelessness in which various things which happened to homeless families were condensed into a narrative’. He had ‘the intention of saying to people who were watching on television that this is actually happening in your name, and we really have to stop and deal with it.’
Cathy Come Home must be seen first and foremost as a social utterance at a pivotal time of change, which (to paraphrase Plantinga) asserts the analogous circumstances of its fictional couple to real social conditions — in order to change those conditions. This oppo¬sitional voice demanding change, appealing and accusing, is recognizably the voice of Wiggin’s socially concerned ‘Better Self’ writ large. As the radical 1960s offered challenges to the previous certainties of a society re¬configuring in the post-war period, this voice of social conscience had a strong left-wing inflection.
Assessing the Resonance
Cathy Come Home’s effects, or lack of them, are easy to assert, difficult to prove (as is always the case with the arts). No one can doubt the continued presence of the poor and the homeless, however much one claims our society is ‘post-industrially’ or ‘post¬modern-ly’ eclectic, various, and diverse. All concerned in the making of Cathy Come Home would probably agree with Brecht that the breeder of poverty—capitalism itself— is still an animal energetically reproducing itself.9 All, in their very different ways, are still pushing against the seemingly gravitational pull of New Model (multinational, third-phase) Capitalism. All look back in sadness at the thought that, famous as it is, their work’s social effects were limited. In 1993, Loach thus called Cathy ‘an “Oh dear” pro¬gramme’; in 1994, he talked of ‘having our heads patted’ over it. He has bemoaned the fact that it had become acceptable to the political Right.’
But this television play did resonate in wider contemporary social debates: indeed, it fired them. In Birmingham on Monday 28 November 1966, to take a local example, a public discussion took place as a direct con¬sequence of Cathy Come Home’s transmission just twelve days before. Sandford and Loach discussed homelessness with Birmingham City councillors, who were incensed that their city had appeared in such an unfavourable light in the film.” Policy in respect of the conditions in the city’s hostels for the home¬less changed almost immediately; the in-human separation of man and wife — which so ironically flew in the face of post-war society’s alleged commitment to what have become known as ‘family values’ — ceased in Birmingham.
The film also had its effects on the Labour Government of 1966. Earlier on the same day, 28 November, a special screening of the film was arranged for the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Anthony Greenwood, his Parliamentary Private Sec¬retary, Wayland Young, and three permanent officials at the Ministry of Housing. After¬wards, Tony Garnett wrote a memo to his bosses at the BBC (1 December 1966) noting: ‘We were not challenged at any point either on our intentions in making the film or our facts.’ 12
The politicians were unhappy about the tone of the final statistical captions, and said so; but they made no direct attempt to challenge or remove them. Subsequently, Greenwood praised the play in speeches outside the House of Commons, and dis¬cussed it on Late Night Line-Lip after its third transmission in 1968. Attempts were made by Greenwood’s ministry to address some of the issues raised by the film during the following two years. The Labour Govern¬ment embarked on an ambitious building programme, and produced a White Paper urging councils to end separation of parents and children of the kind seen at the end of Cathy. Finally, of course, there was the foun¬dation of the housing charity organization Shelter — an event Sandford today calls ‘a wonderful case of synchronicity’.13
But, as Martin Banham pointed out in 1980, the social power of Sandford’s work went beyond its television transmissions. Sandford exploited the cultural space created by his television dramas in two ways —through other, associated, writings; and through activism. As Banham remarks: ‘The novel of Cathy Come Home, with its appen¬dixes, is a necessary companion to the play.’ This was also true of Edna, the Inebriate Woman, and of other work, notably his writ¬ing about gypsies.” 14
Secondly, Sandford promoted causes he believed in through print and television journalism, lecture tours, media discussions, and various campaigns (often in collabo¬ration with charitable groups like Shelter and the Cyrenians, and through the gypsy organizations with whom he still works). He tried consistently to open up the factual base of his work to an extended audience and to provoke informed public discussion. In this regard, Cathy Come Home the drama is the visible part of a research iceberg, and the factual mass below the surface (which gave the drama its weight) was often explored outside the realm of television.
The degree of social turbulence around and beyond the transmission of a television play cannot and should not be discounted. Continuing ripples lie behind the re-tellings of Cathy’s story which occurs not simply in repeat transmissions (though the frequency of these is remarkable enough) and in film/television courses in the academy, but also in the presence in the culture of ‘what might be termed ‘Cathy as Reference Point’. 15
Newspaper leader-writers long beyond the initial furore have thus invoked the figure of Cathy to draw attention to the ongoing shame of homelessness. Shelter itself has not only used the film for promotional purposes throughout its history but has also frequently used it in adver¬tisements (especially stills of Carol White’s troubled face in role as Cathy). Those who were (and are still) affected by it find Sandford’s play ‘true in the way of belief’, as philosophers would say are prepared, in engaging with the drama, to trust the facts (and to have the one reinforce the other) because they believe social justice continues to be less than perfect.
So the analogies asserted in Cathy Come Home enable a ‘bearing witness’ to occur in reception. This is by far the majority experi¬ence of watching the film, as was borne out in the BBC’s own audience research at first and second transmission.16 But assertions also provoke denial. This is an inevitable by¬product of the rhetorical strategy, which successfully combines the force of the docu¬ment with the feeling of the drama. Belief and doubt go together in a philosophical bi¬nary stretching back to Everyman and beyond.
Doubts about the play in its own time were generated from three main sources, the first and most obvious being political and cul¬tural conservatism. Opposed to the ideas of Loach, Garnett, and Sandford; the Right thus developed the arguments of Wiggin’s ‘Worse Self’.17 They found Cathy Come Home ‘not true in the way of belief’, and made counter-assertions: if the things which ‘happened’ in the play really happened at all, then they did not happen to one couple as depicted; if ‘licence’ was taken with plot construction, licence may be presumed to have been taken elsewhere. In a drama of such evident dark¬ness and light, this group questioned the absence of shades of grey in the figures of authority depicted.
Such sceptical, sometimes angry voices could be heard in 1966 in the meeting at Birmingham:
The opening speaker, Alderman Dr. Louis Glass, Conservative Housing Management Committee chairman, attacked Mr. Jeremy Sandford, the play’s author, and Mr. Kenneth Loach, the director, both later speakers, for ‘sneaking into a Birmingham hostel to get information for their play.’ … [He] said the play had smacked in the face every agency dealing with the homeless. 18
Glass used two classic rhetorical tactics: firstly (as above), he cast doubt on the programme-makers’ integrity at the level of the facts, claiming that they used underhand methods (denied by Sandford). This argument asks, ‘How can you possibly trust these people when you know what they get up to?’ Secondly, he claimed that improvements were in hand anyway (to demonstrate the essential redundancy of any mere drama lying to produce social change). This argument says, ‘Leave these things to the experts – trust us, not the entertainers.’ The separation of husbands and wives would, Glass stated, end ‘within two years’. (This could stand, perhaps, as a working defini¬tion of ‘a politician’s promise’.)
Such a provocative and challenging account of a social problem could hardly ex¬pect to win widespread support from those who were, like Alderman Glass, involved at a local, operational level. Charged with policies, agencies, and their organization, these people naturally made a counter-challenge to the film’s case. Many reviewers of the time commented on the unfavourable light in which social workers are seen in Cathy Come Home; those speaking for insti¬tutions responsible for such individuals could, perhaps, only refute the film’s strong assertions: Tony Garnett acknowledges:
We were blatantly propagandist in Cathy Come Home, of course we were! There was a big attack on everything in the show, but we were used to that. What the hostile press will always do is try to find you out on one or two small factual errors, then say the whole thing’s rubbish. This happened on Days of Hope. I think we got one of the First World War uniforms wrong! 19
So there was a second level of doubt cast on the film from organizations in society responsible for dealing with the problems raised in Cathy Come Home, organizations not inherently right-wing but committed to the status quo by the very nature of their vested interests. These organizations included the Local Government Information Office and the Institute of Housing Managers, both of which became vocal opponents of the play, as I discuss below.20
Next, as Julian Petley has argued, oppo¬sition as well as support came from within the broadcasting institution itself: so the beleaguered social authorities and the right-wing press which constituted the film’s natural antagonists were supported within the BBC itself by, for example, Grace Wyndham Goldie, one of the BBC mandarin class and former Head of BBC Television Talks and Current Affairs. In two newspaper articles in early 1967, she attacked the docu¬mentary drama form, worried that what was received as factual in current affairs was ambiguous in drama. Cathy Come Home was, in her view, ‘an early example of a new and dangerous trend in television drama’.21
Sandford remarks: ‘When brave ideas hit an institution, its first instinct is survival’22 To illustrate this, Petley refers to an unsigned piece included in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of the Radio Times (16 January 1969). The article’s phrase, ‘keeping faith with the viewer’, and its suggestion that some drama writers and producers were mixing fact with fiction to dangerous levels, replicate the Wyndham Goldie line, and appear to be from her kind of stratum of management. Like her, the writers worried away at the possibility of the ‘confused viewer’, and noted that uncertainty about its facts was ‘a criticism which was made of Cathy Come Home… in a recent edition of Talkback’.
Garnett, Loach, and others replied furiously on 13 February in their own letter to the editor, noting that attacks on dramatic form are almost always covert attacks on political content. This was as true for documentary drama then as it is today. Senior Granada executive Ian McBride remarked to me recently talking of the 1980—90 Granada drama-documentaries: ‘Nobody criticized the form when it dealt with shipyards in Gdansk!’24 In 1969 Loach et al. warned of a creeping censorship within the apparently liberal BBC of the 1960s:
For many people who work in television [the article] is also very disturbing. Because beneath its bland, sweet reasonableness, which is the house style of BBC bureaucracy there is a warning you refuse to take our gentlemanly hints, we shall censor or ban any of your programmes which deal in social and political attitudes not acceptable to us.25
Tony Garnett pays tribute today to Sydney Newman’s ability to make creative space for his programme-makers despite the pressure from higher up the executive chain. Newman was ‘an astute political animal’, he says, bridge between [programme makers] and the hierarchy’.26 In the contemporary period it is dear that the BBC encouraged innovative creative workers on board on the on hand, but policed their activities carefully or the other.
BBC mandarins were keen to win hearts and minds at this difficult time of liberalization, but held the line when necessary The test case was not the documentary drama Cathy Come Home, but the quasi-documentary The War Game, which was banned in 1965 and remained untransmitted until 1985. The institution’s layers of self-protection may be gauged from director Peter Watkins’s claim that the BBC showed his film clandestinely to its work-force to try to ensure a common public front following the decision to ban. Because the BBC hierarchy needed its staff to agree that the film was dangerous, he alleges, they arranged closed-doors screenings. The film was sent to BBC establishments around the country (with the ludicrous coven-name of ‘The Bicycle Film’) so that the employees could understand their bosses’ decision. 27
This story resonates interestingly with Sandford’s and Garnett’s claims about sell¬ing Cathy Come Home within the BBC as ‘a knockabout family comedy’. Sandford has said that he and Garnett agreed initially ‘to keep the subject of the play a secret and for the moment to give it a different title’.28 This is borne out by BBC memos. A month before transmission, Garnett was describing Cathy to Gerald Savory Head of Plays and Drama, as ‘a love story’ (BBC memo, 26 October 1966). Garnett says today: ‘I only let them [the executives] see it after the Radio Times deadline. If it was going to be banned, I wanted it to be a public banning.’ In his memo of 22 August 1966 he had thus tem¬porized with Michael Peacock, Controller of BBC 1: ‘If the Controller insists, he may see a rough-cut version of Cathy Come Home, but I would prefer to go on working at it with my Director until it is finished.’ Loach/Garnett’s passion for film rather than tape aided and abetted this strategic prevarication.29
In the BBC, there were supporters and opponents, friends and enemies of groundbreaking work and of those making it. John McGrath calls the informal meetings held in the BBC canteen and bar ‘the real training ground’ of the period. Every large organiz¬ation has this ‘canteen culture’, and there was also opposition to the radical BBC group there. Not everyone felt the same about revolutionizing society; the 1960s was, in McGrath’s view, ‘an Age of Backwardness rather than a Golden Age’. Cathy Come Home was made in such a climate — ‘despite the powers that be rather than because of them’, according to Sandford. 30
In academic writing, the politics of Cathy Come Home politics have been challenged more for insufficient radicalism than the reverse, but some of the debate about form has transferred from the wider culture. Between 1970 and 1985 questions about the progressiveness’ of television drama, rooted mainly in Marxist cultural theory, emanated from the periodical Screen, and were part of the paradigm-defining debates of academic Media Studies. In the early 1970s, Theatre Quarterly ran a series of articles on television drama, exploring its capacity for provoking political debate and social change. Central here was an exchange between Paul Able-man and Sandford himself.31
Ableman, it is sometimes forgotten, com¬pared two contemporary programmes and characterized them as ‘Two Kinds of Truth’ (his article’s sub-title). Here, Edna, the inebriate Woman, Sandford’s second major documen¬tary drama, was compared with Geoffrey Schwartz’s long-forgotten Sheila, the Transvestite, which Ableman labelled ‘an authentic documentary’. He argued that the documen¬tary drama form as practised by Sandford and his collaborators was deeply suspicious in respect of facts and information, deeply low-brow in respect of art. His most telling jibe was that its values were those of ‘a huge commercial’, and were (therefore) ‘inartistic’.
Ableman’s use of words like ‘forgery’ and ‘counterfeit’ suggest a suspicion of the film’s authenticity amounting to doubt. Taking the line that provocation is better than art in a time of crisis, Sandford countered: ‘Drama¬tized documentary can be a more powerful social medium than the play or the docu¬mentary — or, at any rate, that’s my experi¬ence of it.’
What emerged ultimately from the Theatre Quarterly debate was qualified assent for the documentary drama as a form, because it was capable of ‘exposing social evils and indicating paths of rectification’ (Ableman), of ‘crusading’ (Sandford).32 Within the later Screen debate, qualification was defined around John Caughie’s appreciation of the radical possibilities of form offered by John McGrath’s 1974 ‘Play for Today’ treatment of his stage play, The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil. But behind any qualified assent lurked potentially disabling doubts about the status of the fad in the ad, the kinds of act by which facts came alive, and the ethical legitimacy of the documentary drama.
Irene Shubik on ‘Cathy’
Doubts were reinforced by a book written by a former BBC producer, Irene Shubik, who could have had little idea of the effects it would have on the academic community as the arguments about documentary drama developed over a period of twenty years. What Shubik says about Cathy Come Home in her 1975 book runs like a thread through academic acccounts, my own included.
The book became important because it represented an early insight into the pro¬fessional, industrial world of television pro¬dution. It remains an invaluable resource, with its comprehensive list of ‘Wednesday Plays’ and ‘Plays for Today’ (p. 60—74) and its authoritative account of the work of a producer in a formative period of British television history. Written by a producer with an impressive record, the book is not about Cathy Come Home at all, nor is it an academic book; it is a memoir of a career at its mid-point. 33
In 1971 Shubik had produced Sandford’s second documentary drama, Edna, the Inebri¬ate Woman. The making of this film left a legacy of disagreement between its writer and producer which was exacerbated by her published remarks about Sandford’s earlier play. She refers to Cathy Come Home and its makers on several occasions in her book. She is aware of the play’s relatively un¬troubled historical provenance in the work of radio ‘Features’ and the BBC Television ‘dramatized documentary’ of the 1950s:
The technique of production…. Was innovatory in that actors were sometimes rehearsed and then set down in outside locations and filmed in true-life backgrounds against ordinary people.35
She acknowledges Cathy Come Home as a ‘famous’ play (p. 124) — one which had been ‘filmed with enormous success by Ken Loach and Tony Gamett’ (p. 129) – and she mentions approvingly its large audience figures (p. 180). But she also remarks (p. 79) that the social focus of plays like Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home led to a ‘schizoid position’:
On the one hand, as originally intended by Sydney [Newman, ‘The Wednesday Play’] was to have a mass audience appeal. At the same time the critics were evaluating it on criteria more suitable to Sunday nights at the Royal Court Theatre… . On the other hand, the audience, if they did get such a play, howled that they wanted a good old-fashioned story with a beginning, middle, and end in which people didn’t live in permanent squalor, swearing at each other and fornicating.
And she links this double-bind specifically to Cathy:
In the aftermath of Cathy Come Home, almost every play that was not centred on a social prob¬lem was greeted with the question ‘Where have the great days of social conscience gone?’ and every play which was in that genre was compared unfavourably with it.
The difficulty of being a very active pro¬ducer on a series which was distorted (as one can infer from this remark) by one-off hits like Cathy is worth noting. While Shubik produced 25 ‘Wednesday Plays’ between 1967 and 1970, Tony Garnett produced 11 in a comparable period (1966—1969). ‘Garnett’, she remarks (p. 76), ‘had managed to get himself into that most enviable position of any producer; that of doing only a very few productions a year.’ Not only that, he had managed to work more or less exclusively on film, an expensive option not universally available to other BBC producers and one which caused her problems on Edna. 36
Doubts about the Form
Shubik is equivocal, too, about the docu¬mentary drama form. While acknowledging that her own biggest successes had been with ‘the straightforward documentary-type subject’ (p. 179), she notes aesthetic limita¬tions in the form: ‘The bulk of television writing is inevitably dramatized journalism’ (p. 89). The majority of television writers are described as ‘half observers, half creators’ (p.105). Singling out David Mercer, Clive Exton, and David Rudkin as writers with ‘special vision’, she proceeds to argue:
Had any of these three authors written Cathy, Come Home, or Edna, the Inebriate Woman, for instance, their portrayal of the inner mental tor¬ture of Cathy and Edna might well have made audiences so uncomfortable as to have forced them to turn off.
As Martin Banham has pointed out, these comments ‘make assumptions about drama¬tic form’ which probably tell us more about Shubik’s preferences in drama than about anything else.37Her description of Sandford’s research methods as ‘emotional’ and ‘impressionistic’ (p. 99, 125—6) has rankled with him ever since he first became aware of it. Even his marvelously vivid picture of Dickensian low-life in modem times’ (p. 125) — meant, Shubik says, as a compliment — was received badly, especially when his research methods are compared directly with Tony Parker’s, which are variously characterized as ‘meti¬culous’ (p. 99), ‘impartial’ (p. 125), and ‘pains¬taking’ (p. 126). Her own preferences are for ‘structure’ and ‘naturalness’ in drama, which she links to Tony Parker’s A Life is Forever of 1972 (p. 102—3):
Parker had, to my mind, shown a great step forward as a playwright in his own right rather than a documentary journalist. The invented dia¬logue was far more natural than in any of the previous plays and the situations seemed to arise more naturally from character, as opposed to being contrived by the author for expository or didactic reasons.
Sandford, by contrast, is ‘strong on dialogue and weak on structure’ (p. 106). These views are, perhaps, inevitable if one takes the view that the best drama is character-driven and structured in terms of plot, but also ‘natural’ (note the repetition of this word). Shubik denies that she intended this, but academic writers have seen her privileging ‘impartial’ and ‘objective’ research, ‘natural’ dialogue, characterization and plot structure. 38
But it is the more direct accusations about Cathy Come Home which have been the main focus of academic attention. The first, most important point is about factual accuracy. It is worth quoting at length, from page 126 of Shubik’s book:
After Cathy Come Home was screened, there were many protests about the inaccuracy of its statistics about the homeless and its portrait of the authori¬ties. On its second showing, two million council members and officials were asked to watch and see how many mistakes they could find in it. Mr. Laurence Evans of the Local Government Office said, ‘This play is full of blunders and omissions.’ Another official complained of factual inaccuracies and another of the deliberate mis¬representation of officers of a public authority as ‘gangsters’, especially in the scene where the children are wrenched from Cathy on a station platform. On its second showing, most of the background comments giving statistics were, in fact, omitted because of doubts about accuracy.
Today, she observes that what she wrote was partly a reflection of her anxiety about Edna:
My only interest in the inaccuracies was to make sure we did not lay ourselves open to the same accusation on Edna as had been made about Cathy. .I was not out to criticize the Cathy team.39
In the same letter, she says: ‘As to the pre¬vious history of Cathy, since I had nothing to do with it I go by what I was told by Kotch¬eff, Newman and Luke’ (also p. 128-9). ‘There is no doubt’ she says (p. 126) ‘that Cathy would have had much less impact had a more evenly balanced picture been painted.’
Shubik’s second point concerns perceived disturbances to the balance of the argument following from the casting of Carol White as Cathy. She notes (p. 132) that ‘there were criticisms that the heroine of the play was much more glamorous than her real-life counterpart would ever have been’, and cites a Granta review which suggested that a ‘foul¬mouthed working-class scrubber’ might have been both more realistic and less sympa¬thetic. Sandford’s reaction today is to make the counter-accusation that this view reeks of ‘classist stereotyping’. 40
Points about inaccuracy and balance are used in discussions of Cathy Come Home by Swallow (1976); Banham (1980); Paget (1990); Corner (1996); and Petley (1997). 41To deal with the last point first: Banham establishes that contemporary reviewers (Give James, for example) did indeed question Cathy! Carol White’s good looks. In 1990, I alleged an element of ‘sixties sexism in casting and performance. 42 Puffing a blonde ‘dolly bird’ at the centre of a drama without real thought about the wider sexual politics was, I sug¬gested, par for the course in the 1960s.
A pre-transmission piece in the London Evening News of 8 November 1966 demon¬strates that this was not so far wrong. A photograph of White at her most glamorous appears under the large-print legend: ‘If you have the IN-look you’re half-way home’, and reviewers at the time noted White’s physical resemblance to Julie Christie. 43 I used ideas about Cathy-the-factual-composite and Cathy-the-too-attractive to justify a revi¬sionist view of the film, which claimed that its ‘cultural tourism’ ultimately released cul¬tural pressure and mitigated social tension.
Sandford acknowledged in a letter that Cathy the character was ‘a pre-feminist con¬struct’, but chided me for writing with the political correctness of hindsight. 44 I looked again at what I had written, and what struck me was that I had found the notion origi¬nally in a book (Shubik’s) which cast general as well as particular doubt on Cathy Come Home. The force of her apparent scepticism had reinforced my own epistemological and representational doubts.
Cuts and ‘Cathy’
But the material about factual inaccuracy and enforced cuts has been more frequently discussed. In his influential 1996 book The Art of Record, for example, John Corner quotes in full Shubik’s paragraph on the excision of statistics from Cathy Come Home, italicizing the key sentence: ‘On its second showing, most of the background comments giving statistics were, in fact, omitted because of doubt [sic] about accuracy.’ He uses Shubik to underline the perfectly valid point that the film as a ‘knowledge device’ was ‘controversial in a number of ways’, and that ‘a stronger referential base than most plays’ made Cathy Come Home at once more authoritative and more vulnerable. ‘Its use of voiced-over data,’ he writes, ‘inevitably carried it into the more narrowly contentious area of controversial current-affairs broad¬casting.’
Julian Petley also paraphrases and refer¬ences Shubik to repeat the charge: ‘Much of the statistical material which makes the film so distinctive …was omitted from the repeat, because pedantic and nit-picking complaints had shaken whatever confidence the BBC had in its accuracy.’ This issue of the BBC’s ‘confidence’ is crucial, and I believe Petley is correct in the general thrust of his argument. But what is illustrated here is the way academic concerns (about the status of a film within its historical conjuncture; about its re-articulation in the subsequent debates; and about ‘knowledge’ itself) have developed from a point which is less authoritative than it perhaps looks — more about the contesting of facts than the facts themselves.45
Irene Shubik, then, claims the following: (1) that Laurence Evans ‘of the Local Govern¬ment Office’ found ‘blunders and omissions’ in the play; (2) that ‘another official’ also found ‘factual inaccuracies’; and (3) that the BBC bowed to accumulated public pressure after November 1966, cutting material for the play’s second transmission in January 1967. Sandford acknowledges that Evans and other officials challenged his work, but refutes the assertion that there were changes before second transmission. Tony Garnett, too, denies that alterations were made:
There were no changes, no changes at all — there was no problem on repeat transmissions. If we’d changed it, I’d say so and give you the reasons why, but I’ve no recollection of changing anything. I double-checked most of the statistics myself, because I wasn’t having my name on anything I couldn’t defend. 46
Neither deny that the play was contro¬versial, and that its accuracy was challenged; what they unequivocally state is that it was never either proved to be wrong or altered.
There was certainly newspaper talk about accuracy, as journalists followed up official displeasure with Cathy Come Home in the build-up to the second transmission. Brian Dean’s story in the Daily Mail, ‘Two Million Try to Trap Cathy’ (11 January 1967), is representative of these. He quotes Laurence Evans almost word for word, as Shubik does, claiming the play ‘is full of blunders and omissions’. Henry Kay, ‘secretary of the Institute of Housing Managers’, is quoted too: ‘We have had many complaints about factual inaccuracies since the play was first shown.’
The Guardian also ran the story, mention¬ing Evans and Kay, and had a headline ‘2M Asked to Spot “Boobs” in TV Play’. Shubik echoes this material in her assertion (p. 126) that others complained of ‘factual inaccura¬cies.., and the deliberate misrepresentation of officers of a public authority’.
Evans had written an article attacking Cathy for the Municipal and Public Services Journal of 2 December 1966. This drew him, briefly, to media attention before the second transmission in newspapers and in the tele¬vision magazine programmes Twenty-FourHours and The Frost Programme. Shubik, then, reports what was common media talk at this time, seeming to quote from newspapers which are not referenced.47
What is more interesting is the emphasis on negative rather than positive outcomes of the dual transmission. The bulk of the reporting on the play was positive. It was only as time went on that Sandford became aware of the extent to which his work had generated opposition:
Later I learned that quite strong pressure had been put on the BBC to not stand firm by the film but instead to admit that it was a fabrication and this sort of thing was not going on in Britain.
In 1972 a published interview with Irene Shubik led to Sandford writing to The Guardian to contradict claims about the writing of Cathy.49 By the time of the Theatre Quarterly articles in 1973, he was aware enough of the attacks on his play to present an account of his allegedly impressionistic research methodology, to defend himself vigorously against the idea that Carol White was unsuitable casting, and to protest the purpose behind the composite character. In the 1976 text of the teleplay, Sandford publicly thanked Sydney Newman, Kenneth Adam, and Hugh Greene (respectively the Head of Drama, Director of Television, and Director-General of the BBC), noting that: ‘Strong pressure was put on the establish¬ment of the BBC to recant, to “confess” that the picture was inaccurate, to apologise.’ The three senior managers, he remarks, ‘stood by the film’. 50
Sandford now understood the extent to which such doubts in the canteen culture and beyond had threatened to undermine his play. Martin Banham’s research files show him still angrily refuting doubts at the end of the decade. Researching this article, I too have found him even now keen to try to prevent the continuing re-circulation of what he calls a ‘myth’ about his play’s status as a factual intervention in a social problem.
Shubik’s claim about second transmission alterations to Cathy Come Home is actually an unsupported assertion; it is this which sub¬sequently disturbed Sandford. Her book is, on the whole, careful to reference quotation; the very page on which she alleges changes to the second transmission of Cathy is other¬wise an example of good practice. She refer¬ences au article of 6 September 1970 in the Sunday Times about Sandford (in which the research methodology for Edna is outlined). She also quotes and references an interview of 28 August 1967 by Robin Douglas wrote in Woman’s Own. Yet the three serious asser¬tions she makes about Cathy further up on the same page are not referenced. As I have demonstrated, there was certainly evidence that some agencies had objected to Cathy Come Home; there is evidence, too, that the BBC found it difficult to contain this. It is the third allegation, of enforced cuts, which is the most difficult to substantiate.
Shubik’s files, fascinating though they are, reveal nothing about the source of the information. I believe the answer may lie in one newspaper report in the BBC Written Archive at Caversham. In a Times review of the second transmission of the play (12 January 1966), Robert Wright Cooper noted:
It seemed even more convincing and disturbing, I found, than it did last November; the line between play and documentary was now more dearly defined by the deletion of most of the spoken background comments [my italics].
This, like the other examples, is again very close to Shubik’s words.51 The review is actually enthusiastic about the play, as was this critic’s earlier review of 17 November 1966 (with its ‘searing indictment of housing conditions’). It may have been that Wright Cooper simply noticed the drama more and the voice-overs less, second time around. What is certain is that no other reviewer or writer, of this or any other subsequent trans¬mission, makes any claims about cuts.
In addition, there are no significant differ¬ences between the script used for filming (code number ‘BBCI 2116/A369’) and the text published by Marion Boyars. In the absence of further corroboration, and noting the continued denials of its makers, one can only conclude that the remarks in Shubik’s book were based on this review, on canteen culture doubts about Cathy, and on her own concerns about Edna the Inebriate Woman.
Managing Dissenting Voices
Harry Whewell, writing in The Guardian of 25 February 1967 after the publication of the Pan novelization of Cathy, remarked:
The impact of Mr. Jeremy Sandford’s study of homelessness when put out on the television was little short of phenomenal. And for all that tele¬vision is he most ephemeral of mediums, some echoes of it are still buzzing around. Newspapers still get letters about it and only this week a Cabinet Minister was talking about ‘the Cathies in our midst’. The word Cathy for a homeless young mother shows signs of passing into the language.
Remembering this period from the perspec¬tive of the fourth transmission of the film in 1976, Des Wilson, founding director of the housing charity Shelter, estimated that the transmission of Cathy Come Home in 1966 and 1967 ‘was worth £500,000 to Shelter alone, and that meant it directly helped to house a lot of homeless families’. He defined the film’s basic rhetorical address to the audience very effectively as ‘above all a scream of pain’. The scream continued, and continues, to be heard.52
If pre-transmission newspaper talk had concentrated on opposition to the play, after the second transmission intended changes in legislation and the raising of public con¬sciousness became the focus, and the Evanses and Kays faded from the scene. The Guardian of 13 January 1967 even noted that the Local Government Information Office’s ‘comment on the play has grown noticeably milder’. At the popular end of the market, the Daily Express (12 January 1967) declared: ‘Loaded, but it hurt like mad.’ The Times of 14 January 1967 ran the sober headline ‘Importance of Cathy above a piece which reflected on the seriousness of the homelessness problem.
A leader in The Guardian of 13 January 1967, headlined ‘Housing for the Homeless’, reflected on the film. To cap it all, the Evening Standard of 12 January 1967 printed a cartoon by Whitford in which one troubled civil servant said to another: ‘The trouble is that the only boobs I could discover were ours.’ The newspapers of the period suggest that while dissenting voices could be heard, they were decidedly in the minority.
Irene Shubik’s belief that alterations were made to Cathy Come Home may also have been formed through a slippage in time. In interview, she told me that she was actually not in the country when Cathy was first transmitted. It seems to me possible that the third of the film’s screenings, on 13 November 1968, might have been in her mind when she wrote her book. By this time, she was working with Sandford, and had been dis¬cussing his work at a number of levels for a year And for this third transmission, the writer did a piece to camera which Shubik might well have seen as relating to the issue of factual accuracy.
On 17 October 1968, the Head of Plays at the BBC, Gerald Savory (Shubik’s boss too), wrote to Sandford:
My feeling is that the statistics are no longer the same as two years ago and that certain Councils (possibly because of your play) have put their houses somewhat in order.
Savory suggested there should be some form of pre-transmission announcement:
The BBC wishes to point out that the programme you are about to see was first transmitted two years ago, so that certain statistics may no longer apply (be accurate). It is also known that much (a good deal) has been (is being) done by local councils to alleviate the problems presented in this play.
Considering the fact that the play by now two years old, this move was a responsible one, but an institutional voice hedging its bets might also be discerned here. The tone certainly contrasts with a frosty letter from Savory to Sandford (also copied to Shubik) on 27 November 1970, a year before the transmission of Edna:
As you probably know, Edna is proving impos¬sibly expensive and I am unable to give you any assurances about the future [i.e Sandford’s two other plays commissioned by Shubik] until I have picked up the pieces.
Within this period, Sandford’s status within the BBC was slipping, even though Edna was a great success.
In his reply to Savory of 26 October 1968, Sandford counters the claim of improve¬ments in housing conditions: ‘The statistics have certainly changed somewhat, but not I am sorry to say entirely for the good.’ While he acknowledges that the film’s original journalistic edge had inevitably gone, he pre¬ferred the following:
The BBC wishes to point out that the programme you are about to see was first transmitted two years ago, so that some of the statistics quoted may now be out of date although still basically correct.
Local Authorities and the Government have attempted in various ways to alleviate the problems presented in this play, and in certain aspects of these there has been improvement.
In other ways, however, it must be said that the problem has grown even more acute.
The figure, given in Cathy of 4,000 children taken into care each year for no other reason than homelessness has now become 5,000.
The figure of 12,500 inhabitants of Part II Accommodation (the ‘Homes for the Homeless’) has now become 15,000.
The number of families on the housing lists has grown in some cases, although it would be right to say that the waiting lists have got shorter in other cases. Actual conditions in Part 111 Accom¬modation have generally got better although here again there have been exceptions.
‘I have’, he says, ‘discussed [the enclosed draft] with Tony Garnet [sic] and also Des Wilson of “Shelter”.’ The announcement as recorded was spoken by Sandford post-transmission, and was followed yet again by a studio discussion. Sandford recalls that what he said was based on this letter; cer¬tainly, it closely resembles his introductory piece in the Radio Times (7 November 1968).
Cathy had just won the Italia Prize for the BBC and its third transmission was in part a celebration; but beneath the decorous earlier exchange between Savory and Sandford one can detect a trimming tendency on the part of the institution. By 1968, too, Irene Shubik was wrestling with pre-production problems.
On another Sandford play, under a regime (Savory’s own) which she has described to me as ‘infinitely more repressive than that of Sydney [Newman]’.
If Cathy Come Home is pre-eminently a social utterance ‘true in the way of belief’, part of its success may be measured in the force of the counter-utterance provoked. The voice of the antagonist to the Sandford/ Loach/Garnett protagonist can certainly be discerned at several levels in the contem¬porary reception of Cathy Come Home. How¬ever, I can find no evidence to suggest that the BBC, whatever its internal doubts about this ‘documentary drama’, altered Cathy Come Home between its first and second trans¬missions as suggested by Irene Shubik.
I should like to thank Martin Banham, Tony Garnett, Jeremy Sandford, and Irene Shubik for interviews and assistance with this article.
Notes and References
1. Joan Bakewell and Nicholas Garnham, The New Priesthood: British Television Today (London: Allen Lane, 1970), p. 78.
2. 1. C Worsley, ‘Life on the Wing’, Financial Times,
8 March 1967; Peter Ansorge. From Liverpool to Los
Angdes: on Writing for Theatre, Film, and Television (London:
Faber and Faber, 1997), p. 97.
3. Roots, of course, has had more problems than Cathy Come Home. A huge success in its time, it became the subject of a plagiarism law suit in 1978, and Alex Haley has been accused of over-reliance on oral testi¬mony by academic genealogists. See Pascoe Sawyers, ‘Black and White’, The Guardian, 13 September 1997. See also Note 31 on the British academic debate about documentary drama.
4. John Tulloch notes the propensity of television forms to function publicly ‘like ancient oral myth’; see Television Drama: Agency, Audience, and Myth (London:
Routledge, 1990), p. 64. Carl R. Plantinga develops his idea of ‘assertive analogy’ in Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 22. Like Tulloch, he also writes of the ‘bardic function’ of modern society’s technological forms of representation (p. 191).
5. Interviews with Jeremy Sandford, 24 November
1995 and 8 September 1998.
6. In the text of Cathy Come Home (London: Marion Boyars, 1976), ‘Act I’ is p. 21—49; ‘Act 2’, p. 49—93; ‘ACt 3’, p. 94—139. These three ‘ads’ meant that when the film, was shown on Channel 4 in 1993, advertising breaks were simple to place.
7. Interestingly, the director Ted Kotcheff called Sandford ‘our contemporary Mayhew’ in a piece writ¬ten in May 1978 and originally intended for the published text of Edna, the Inebriate Woman.
8. See Stewart Lane’s interview with Garnett, Morning Star, 16 November 1966; and John Hill, ‘Inter¬view with Ken Loach’, in George McKnight, ed., Agent of Challenge and Defiance: the Films of Ken Loach (Prow¬bridge: Flicks Books, 1997), p. 170. See also Graham Fuller, ed., Loach on Loach (London: Faber, 1998), p. 25.
9. See the Epilogue to Bertolt Brecht’s play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Lii (1941).
10. See Maureen Pile’s interview with Loach, Daily
Telegraph, 27 March 1993; McKnight, op. cit., p. 172;
G. Smith. ‘Voice in the Dark’, Film Comment, No. 2
(March-April 1988), p. 44.
11. The ‘Mrs. Alley section’ of Cathy Come Home (p. 49-68), was filmed in Birmingham. In some of the ‘wildtrack’ for these scenes there are references to Birmingham slum areas, and Birmingham accents can be dearly heard.
12 All quotations from BBC documents are from material in the Cathy Come Home files at the BBC Written Archive, Caversham.
13. See the Evening Standard report on Greenwood’s speech at Enfield, 14 January 1967: ‘[He] said the BBC team did a wonderful job in informing public opinion.’ Nearly two years later, a leader in The Guardian before the third transmission of the film (‘Still Homeless in Britain’, 13 November 1968), acknowledged the effects of ministerial circulars of September 1967 and the Seebohm Report on social services, but concluded that there was much still to be done.
14. Martin Banham, ‘Jeremy Sandford’, in George W. Brandt, ed., British Television Drama (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1980), p. 194.
15. Cathy has been transmitted five times in all, on BBCI (three times), BBC2 (once), and Channel 4.
16. The two ‘BBC Audience Research Reports’ VR/
66/629 (6/12/66) and VR/67/27 (1/2/67), indicate high audience numbers and interest. They show too ‘that for every viewer who strenuously objected to the….
repeat there were 60 whose reactions were enthusiastic’
17. This group, of course, only partly corresponds to party political lines.
18. ‘Angry Scenes as Families Heckle Meeting’, Birmingham Post, 29 November 1966.
19. Interview with Tony Garnett, 7 November 1996.
20. Individual social workers were prepared to speak up outside their institutions in meetings, in letters to newspapers, and, of course, on ‘wildtrack’ in the film itself. There was at least one such dissenting individual at the Birmingham meeting, ‘a young home teacher’ (un¬named but photographed), who described ‘conditions in some of the homes she visits’. In the 1960 radio pro¬gramme Homeless Families, Sandford had interviewed other dissenting social workers, some of whose views are heard on ‘wildtrack’ in Cathy Come Home.
21. See Julian Petley, ‘Factual Fictions and Fictional
Fallacies: Ken Loach’s Documentary Dramas’, in McKnight, op. cit. p. 28—59. Grace Wyndham Goldie’s articles were both in the Sunday Telegraph: 13 February 1966 (‘Why They Made The War Game’), and 8 January
1967 (‘Stop Mixing Fact and Fiction’). My quotation comes from the later article.
22. Jeremy Sandford, lecture delivered at University College, Worcester, 30 April 1996.
23. See Petley, op. cit., p. 38. Talkback was a BBC viewers’ discussion programme (1967—71).
24. Interview with Ian McBride, 15 March 1994.
25. Petley, op.cit., P. 39. Other co-signatories of the letter were Jim Allen, Roy Battersby, Clive Goodwin, James MacTaggart, Roger Smith, and Kenneth Trodd.
26. Phone conversation of 12 June 1998, in which Garnett commented on an early draft of this paper.
27. Peter Watkins, ‘The Future of Television’, lecture at University of Bristol, 15 February 1996.
28. See Alan Rosenthal, The New Documentary in Action: a Casebook in Film Making (Berkeley; London:
University of California Press, 1971), p. 174.
29. Interview, 7 November 1996. One requisition slip at Caversham shows that Loach used the 16 mm sound synch Eclair film camera which had been the founding hardware for US ‘direct cinema’ in the early 1960s. Another requisition is for the tape recorder used subsequently by Sandford for ‘wildtrack’.
30. John McGrath spoke at the conference, ‘On the Boundary: Turning Points in TV Drama 1965-2000’, at the University of Reading, 4 April 1998. The Sandford quotation comes from his Worcester lecture (see Note
31. The articles in Theatre Quarterly were: Roger Hudson, ‘Television in Britain: Description and Dissent’, II, No. 6 (1972), p. 18—25; Paul Ableman, ‘Edna and Sheila: Two Kinds of Truth’, II, No.7(1972), p. 45-8; and Jeremy Sandford, ‘Edna and Cathy: Just Huge Commercials’, ill, No.10(1973), P. 79-85. For the debate about ‘progressive drama’ and documentary forms, see Andrew Goodwin and Paul Kerr, BFI Dossier 19: Drama-Documentary (London: British Film Institute, 1983). See also John Caughie’s seminal article ‘Progressive Tele¬vision and Documentary Drama’, Screen, XXI, No. 3, p. 9-33. For further discussion, see my No Other Way to Tel? it: Dramadoc/Docudrama on Television (Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press, 1998).
32. Ableman, op. cit., P. 45~ 47; Sandford, 1973, op. cit., p. 80.
33. Irene Shubik produced nearly 50 plays for ‘The Wednesday Play’ and ‘Play for Today’. She later origi¬nated both Rumpole of the Bailey and Jewel in the Crown.
34. See p.30,37,64,76—SO, 89,99, 106, 124—38 (this is Chapter 10, actually about Edna, the inebriate Woman), 140,180.
– 35. On the provenance of this methodology, see Arthur Swinson, Writing for Television (London: Black, 1955); and Caryl Doncaster, ‘The Story Documentary’, in Paul Rotha, ed.. Television in the Making (London:
Focal Press, 1956).
36. Like most producers, she was never a BBC staff member, but worked on short-term contracts. Tony Garnett recalled that his first BBC contract was for nine months (phone conversation, 12 June 1998).
37. Banham, op. cit., p. 202.
38. In a phone conversation of 11 June 1998, she maintained that her intention had been to celebrate difference rather than to denigrate.
39. In a letter, undated but received the day after our phone conversation of 11 June 1998.
40. Interview, 28 September 1998.
41. Norman Swallow, ‘Television: the Integrity of Fact and Fiction’. This originally appeared in Sight and Sound, XL, No.3 (Summer 1976), but his argument was re-circulated in Goodwin and Kerr, op. cit., P. 57-61; Banham, op. cit., p. 194-216; Derek Paget, True Stories? Documentary Drama on Radio, Screen, and Stage (Man¬chester University Press, 1990), p. 91-6; John Corner, The Art of Record: a Critical Introduction to Documentary (Man-chester University Press, 1996), P. 90-107; Julian Petley, op. cit., p. 30—2.
42. See Banham. op. cit., p. 197; Paget, op. cit., p.96.
43. Christie’s first starring role, in Billy Liar, was in
44. Letter. 7 June 1994.
45. Corner op. cit., p. 106; Petley op. cit., p.30. John Corner tells me he has revised his use of Shubik in the reprinted Art of Record.
46. Interview, 7 November 1996. Garnett acknow¬ledges one alteration to the original film, the result of a missing release form. The scene in which Cathy is rebuf¬fed by prospective landladies had one cut made (see text. p. 63-4). Such problems were not unusual when television was adapting to what were essentially ‘direct cinema’ film techniques. Irene Shubik told me that some¬thing similar happened on Edna the Inebriate Woman.
47. Stewart Lane, Morning Star, 14 January 1%7.
48. Alan Rosenthal, The Documentary Conscience: a Casebook in Film Making (Berkeley; London, 1980), p. 161.
49. See Zibba Mays, The Guardian, 2 March 1972. Sandford’s letter was published on 10 May 1972.
50. Sandford, op. cit., P. 17.
51. In those days, Times reviews were anonymously written by ‘Our Television Critic’, but the reviewer was Robert Wright Cooper (1904-92) who took the role for the final period (1966-69) of his 45 years as a Times jour¬nalist. Irene Shubik said to me: ‘I’m absolutely certain that was said in a number of papers’, but I can find no other evidence. She used press cuttings and other material in BBC files when writing her book and I have checked these at Caversham. I have also looked more widely, at Colindale Newspaper Library and in her files at the BFI. These files, donated in 1985, consist of 39 box files of which only three relate to the arguments of this article (Boxes 3, 30, and 37 — on Sandford’s plays, her book, and general press cuttings).
52. See ‘Cathy’s Message Still Comes Home’, Even¬ing Standard, 12 August 1976.