BBC Four to showcase celebrated feature-length dramas

Posted Filed under

Sir Alec Guinness, Julie Walters and Victoria Wood star in a season of feature-length dramas drawn from the BBC archive.

The BBC long been making feature-length dramas for television, often with starry casts and from high-profile directors. However, once shown they often end up buried in the archive.

Beginning this week, BBC Four and BBC iPlayer are on a mission to “… shine a light on the BBC’s rich history of original, quality drama from some of the UK’s greatest creative talents.” On Wednesday, 10th May, the channel kicks off a season of eleven acclaimed BBC feature-length dramas from the past.

The films selected include performances from Eileen Atkins, David Bowie, Brian Cox and Sir Alec Guinness. Here’s the line-up:

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 not been repeated since first airing 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 reunite after spending 27 years apart.

Lucky Sunil

Andrew Davies’ Lucky Sunil is the coming of age story of a young, handsome man starting his career in London. Kulvinder Ghir stars and the film has not been repeated in 20 years.

Eskimo Day

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. The film also 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. From writer and director Trevor Griffiths, it stars Starring Brian Cox and Sinéad Cusack. 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 premiered in 1982.

Kisses at Fifty

Play for Today’s Kisses at Fifty resurfaces 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.

The season begins with The Lost Language of Cranes at 10pm on Wednesday, 10th May. The subsequent films air weekly at the same time.