Much of the attention on the release of this boxset of wonderful plays has understandably centred on Days of Hope, the Ken Loach/Jim Allen masterpiece from 1975.It would , however, be a great pity if many of the other superb productions included in the set were overlooked.Cathy Come Home and Up the Junction are probably better remembered than most of the others because of the furore they created when first shown in the mid sixties. They retain their power to this day. Of particular interest are two other Loach/Allen collaborations from 1969 and 1971, The Big Flame and Rank and File. They are both about industrial disputes with the workforce being betrayed by their union. Shot in semi-documentary style and featuring superb performances from such stalwarts as Peter Kerigan and Bill Dean they stand as a testament to how important a medium television could be and once was. It is impossible to imagine BBC or any other company funding films such as these which are willing to engage in genuine political debate with scenes consisting of discussions with no gimmicky distractions. None of this should suggest there is a lack of warmth and humour to the films...but the humour is part of the realistic dialogue that further enhances the fly-on-the-wall feel.Although the days when a major company would make and show such productions are long gone at least we have this set to remind us of what was once possible...Days of Hope, indeed.
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