by Allan Fish
(UK 1969 90m) not on DVD
Love your enemies
p Graeme MacDonald d Gareth Davies w Dennis Potter ph Robert Wright art Spencer Chapman cos Dinah Collin
Colin Blakely (Jesus), Brian Blessed (Peter), Robert Hardy (Pilate), Edward Hardwicke (Judas), Bernard Hepton (Caiaphas), Godfrey Quigley (Roman commander), Patricia Lawrence (Procia),
Between the years of 1965 and 1969, Dennis Potter penned eight plays for the Wednesday Play strain for the BBC. There were the two Nigel Barton pieces which helped to make his name and the well-praised Alice, detailing part of the life and influences of Lewis Carroll. The last of his octet was undoubtedly the best, as well as being the most powerful and easily the most controversial.
Son of Man was a hot potato from the moment it first broadcast on 16th April 1969. Coming hard fast on the heels of Easter probably didn’t help, but it’s safe to say that, with the exception of Ken Russell’s Dance of the Seven Veils, no more incendiary play was ever made for the BBC. Like Russell’s piece it now stands tall as a masterpiece of small screen drama and one of the most revolutionary TV plays ever written. I don’t use the word lightly, for one must bear in mind the date; man’s first steps on the moon were imminent, the students riots in Paris were still fresh in the memory and the free love hippies so frowned on by Daily Mail readers were starting to proliferate society. Into this boiling cauldron of public opinion – that old gorgon Mary Whitehouse was taking legal steps against the BBC for showing the play – Dennis Potter put the feline well and truly amongst the pigeons. (more…)