The BBC has announced an upcoming season of feature-length dramas, mixing hidden gems and lesser-shown classics from the past five decades, as part of BBC Four and iPlayer’s ongoing commitment to shine a light on the BBC’s rich history of original, quality drama from some of the UK’s greatest creative talents.
Launching weekly from Wednesday 10 May at 10pm on BBC Four and iPlayer, the season will showcase eleven acclaimed BBC feature-length dramas from the past, featuring names such as Julie Walters, Victoria Wood, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Brian Cox, David Bowie, Alan Bennett and many more.
The dramas in the season are:
The Lost Language of Cranes
Based on the book of the same name by David Leavitt, the story explores a young man coming out to his parents and their subsequent reactions. The drama, which stars Brian Cox, Eileen Atkins and Cathy Tyson, has never been repeated since its premiere as part of the Screen Two series in 1992.
Pat and Margaret
Victoria Wood and Julie Walters lead a rich cast, including Anne Reid, Duncan Preston and Thora Hird in Screen One’s Pat and Margaret. The story follows two sisters, one a successful actress, the other a cook, who are reunited after spending 27 years apart. This year, Pat and Margaret will be broadcast as part of a night celebrating Victoria Wood’s 70th birthday.
Andrew Davies’ Lucky Sunil is the coming of age story of a young, handsome man starting his career in London, with Kulvinder Ghir starring as the title role. The film has not been repeated in 20 years.
Written by Jack Rosenthal, Eskimo Day is about the three young prospective students as they arrive at Queens’ College Cambridge, on interview day. Maureen Lipman stars alongside Alec Guinness, in his final acting performance before his death in 2000.
An Englishman Abroad
Alan Bennett’s An Englishman Abroad is based on the chance meeting between Coral Browne and Cambridge spy turned Soviet, Guy Burgess. Both Alan Bates (Guy Burgess) and Coral Browne (playing herself) won BAFTAs for their performances and the film won the BAFTA for Best Single Drama in 1983.
She’s Been Away
Written by Stephen Poliakoff and directed by Sir Peter Hall, She’s Been Away deals with the return of an elderly woman to her family, following the closure of a mental institution. It was the final performance of Dame Peggy Ashcroft, who won two awards at the Venice International Film Festival for her performance.
The Hope and the Glory
The Hope and the Glory has never been repeated since its premiere in 1984. Written by Caryl Phillips, it explores the unlikely friendship between two very different men in a boarding house. Rudolph Walker and Maurice Denham star.
The Long Roads
Considered to be among his best work, John McGrath’s The Long Roads follows an elderly woman, played by Edith MacArthur, who learns that she is dying of cancer so visits her children to inform them of the news. The drama has not been repeated in over 20 years.
Food for Ravens
Food for Ravens is a powerful drama profile of Aneurin Bevan, the Welsh architect of the NHS. Starring Brian Cox and Sinéad Cusack and written and directed by Trevor Griffiths, Food for Ravens won the RTS award for best Regional Programme and the BAFTA Gwyn Alf Williams Award.
Directed by Alan Clarke, David Bowie stars in Baal, a television adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s classic play about a rebellious poetic genius, about to meet his end after a drunken and dissolute decline. Baal has never been repeated since its premiere in 1982.
Kisses at Fifty
Play for Today’s Kisses at Fifty is resurfaced after thirty years. Written by Colin Welland and directed by Michael Apted, it follows fifty-year-old Harry Cook (Bill Maynard) and the consequences of his affair with the local barmaid for all around him.