Cathy Come Home

Stephen Lacey

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Cathy Come Home is one of the most influential and highly-regarded UK television dramas. First screened in 1966, Cathy was a devastating indictment of government policy towards homelessness, and a powerful defence of the homeless. The story follows Cathy, who arrives in London from the provinces, meets and marries Reg, and begins a family. From an optimistic start, the family lose their home due to events beyond their control, precipitating a rapid descent through the housing system at the end of which Cathy loses both husband and children. More than forty years on, it is still regularly cited as one of the most important television dramas of all time. Screened in the ground-breaking Wednesday Play anthology series, Cathy was the first single UK television play to be made on film and substantially on location. Directed by Ken Loach and produced by Tony Garnett, Cathy had an immediate impact, recording unprecedented audience approval ratings and generating controversy in the press. Its appearance coincided with the launch of the housing charity Shelter, and the use of Carol White, who played Cathy, as a poster helped Shelter to become a national campaigning body on behalf of the homeless. Based on the writer Jeremy Sandford’s meticulous research, Cathy combined a variety of documentary techniques in a dramatic context, and was the one of the first in a long line of controversial ‘documentary dramas’ associated with the UK single play. Filmed with a hand-held aesthetic that defined televisual social realism at the time and since, Cathy Come Home remains a challenging drama. Although Cathy Come Home is highly regarded and much-discussed, this is the first book-length study of the play. Illustrated with stills, the book places the drama in its production and reception contexts and examines Cathy’s influence on government policy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBFI Palgrave
Number of pages132
ISBN (Print)1-84457-316-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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