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Play for Today, Volume 3 on 3-disc Blu-ray from BFI in April

9 March 2022

Fifty years after its first transmission, the BBC’s Play for Today anthology series remains one of British television’s most influential achievements. Between 1970 and 1984, it brought the UK’s best writing, acting and directing talents into our living rooms, challenging audiences and pushing the boundaries of TV drama.

Play for Today, Volume 3 Blu-ray cover art

This third volume, released by the BFI on 11 April at the RRP of £49.99, brings together another six legendary dramas, broadcast from 1971–1979, on Blu-ray for the first time, in a collection that exemplifies the breadth and brilliance of this ground-breaking strand.

The plays:

Written by Jeremy Sandford |  Directed by Ted Kotcheff | 1971
Patricia Hayes gives a memorable performance as an aggressive, funny and proud homeless alcoholic in this award-winning depiction of life on the streets.

Written by Peter McDougall  | Directed by John Mackenzie | 1975
It’s a big moment for John, swinging the mace in his local Orange Lodge parade through Glasgow. But as his day unfolds he witnesses more than bands and banners, and for the first time starts to think about his future. Winner of the 1975 Italia Prize for Television Drama.

Written by Jack Rosenthal | Directed by Michael Tuchner | 1976
Thirteen-year-old Eliot Green is approaching the moment when he will become a man in the eyes of the Jewish community. But Eliot is beginning to wonder if any of the men he is close to really measure up to his boyhood ideals. 

Written by Henry Livings  | Directed by Mike Newell  | 1977
Olive Major (Thora Hird) is determined that her year of office as mayor will be a happy and successful one. But her appointment of a former military man (Frank Windsor) as attendant and mace-bearer sparks controversy in the corridors of Medburgh Town Hall.

Written by James Andrew Hall | Directed by Carol Wiseman | 1979
Author Lewis Duncan (Anton Rogers) writes popular romances but hides his sexuality for fear of losing sales. When he writes for a gay magazine under a pseudonym, however, he strikes a chord with other closeted men and is forced to confront his own priorities.

Written by Jim Hawkins and Horace Ové Directed by Horace Ové | 1979
The story of the real-life 1975 Spaghetti House siege in London’s Knightsbridge. Was it simply a bungled robbery or was it a reflection of the frustration and anger felt by young Black people in Britain?


  • Specially commissioned by the BFI, a 60-page book features writing on the plays by Katie Crosson, David Archibald, screenwriter Peter McDougall, Dr Julia Wagner, Jon Dear, Simon McCallum and Kaleem Aftab
  • Original scripts for all six plays and image galleries

Here's a new BFI trailer: