Documentary-style account of a nuclear attack on Sheffield during the 1980s. Ruth Beckett (Karen Meagher) and Jimmy Kemp (Reece Dinsdale) live in Sheffield and are busy preparing for their upcoming marriage. When Russia invades Iran, hoping to bring the country under its influence, tension is increased throughout the West, and particularly at the local R.A.F. base. Blissfully unconcerned with world events, Ruth and Jimmy carry on with their wedding preparations. However, when two Russian ICBM's hit Sheffield, turning the landscape into a radioactive desert, Ruth and Jimmy are forced to face up to the harsh reality of life in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.
Hideously plausible when first broadcast in 1984, this BBC TV docu-drama now seems like a terrifying might-have-been, although a great deal of what it says about the probable aftermath of a nuclear attack remains horribly pertinent. Scripted by Barry Hines (author of the novel on which Ken Loach's Kes
was based) and directed by Mick Jackson (who later went to Hollywood with The Bodyguard
), at the time Threads
seemed like a response to the American TV movie The Day After
although it stands nobly on its own. Showing the after-effects of World War III on the United Kingdom by concentrating on two Sheffield families linked by an unplanned pregnancy, it illustrates the scientific, political, medical and social consequences of the severing of the many vital connective "threads" that support a Western society. Grim in a particularly 1980s way, this is a compulsive if uncomfortable watch and accomplishes a great deal without the distraction of spectacle, picking through all the melted milk bottles and firing squad traffic wardens to find the human horror at the heart of it all. --Kim Newman