The original screening of this TV film terrified any number of viewers and reviewers (and even traumatised - look at what other Amazonians say!!) back in the mid 1980s. It is so thoroughly realistic in its suburban English setting (naturally mildly dating it), and in its realisation of the underlying emotion of 'real people', that it's impossible to feel detached.
I personally (in my teens) couldn't stomach it all, and only watched the full film on a worn video in 1998. It brought back the full horror, the pessimism, the complete sense of insecurity of growing up under threat in the 1980s. The political climate may have changed (or has it? Look at the fictional news reports in the film . . .) but the 'Threads' of society are what the film is really about. Are they stronger now, or weaker? What would happen if such a thing happened in the 2000s? This is why the film is still relevant.
I watch this film occasionally, at the very least because the feeling of suspense is so skillful. Ordinary, domestic, things are going on - and then a teleprinter will chatter a fragment of doom over the top. At first matter-of-fact, and gradually more chill sets in. Characters can't sleep (neither will you!), and when the mushroom cloud finally appears, you can only feel the awe voiced by one of the characters, frozen to the spot: '. . . they've done it . . .'
I suspect a lot of people were haunted by that phrase. You care for all the different characters, empathise with them. And then . . . the world we know vanishes (even dear old Woolworths) and hope goes with it, forever. The grating roar of poison wind sets in. This packs a punch, and when the film finishes, you'll want to open the window and breath fresh air, quite honestly. Back in the 1980s, I'd already turned off. Watch it now - as history lesson, science fiction, or powerful drama.