TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Stirring the nation

Click to follow
A young mother in a pale overcoat walks along a dilapidated terraced street pushing a pram with one hand and dragging a toddler along with the other. In 1966 this image, from CATHY COME HOME (10.35pm C4), is said to have stirred the nation into action on the homeless. Twenty-seven years after it was first screened, this drama has aged better than many of a similar vintage. Certainly, the presentation is one-sided; we see matters only from the viewpoint of the young couple, Reg and Cathy, made homeless by a series of cruel misfortunes. But, thanks to the cine verite direction of Ken Loach and the compelling performances of Ray Brooks and (particularly) Carol White in the leads, the drama still has undeniable force. Jeremy Sandford's screenplay starts with Reg and Cathy enjoying newly wedded bliss; she delights in the tin- opener fixed to the wall at their new flat. After Reg has an accident at work, however, the couple and their three children slip with alarming speed from parents' house to caravan to hostel to street. The abiding image is of a hard-faced housing office bureaucrat saying: 'I'm sorry, I don't make the rules.'