First Night: The Road (1963)

UK, 29 September
videotape, black and white, 4:3
mono, English
Series: First Night (1963-1964)

A British science fiction television episode directed by Christopher Morahan.

Plot Summary

18th century scientist Sir Timothy Hassall and philsopher Gideon Cobb begin to investigate a supposedly haunted woodland clearing. But as the phenomena grow more frightening, relationships between the men break down – are they being haunted by from the past, or are they receiving signals from the future?


Director: Christopher Morahan
Producer: John Elliot
Script: Nigel Kneale
Script Editor: Vincent Tilsley
Designer: Tony Abbott

John Phillips (Gideon Cobb)
James Maxwell (Sir Timothy Hassall)
Ann Bell (Lavinia)
David King (Big Jeff)
Victor Platt (Lukey Chase)
Rodney Bewes (Sam Towler)
Reg Lever (landlord)
Richard Beale, Beaufoy Milton (countrymen)
Meg Ritchie (Tetsy)
Clifton Jones (Jethro)


Daily Mail 30 September 1963
Would an 18th-century theme offer as much scope to [Kneale's] fertile imagination as a 20th-century one? How would the amateur scientific dabblings of a ghost-hunting village squire (James Maxwell) be expected to hold the terrible fascination of Mr Kneale's Martians? They don't, of course, not to the same extent anyway, but the old imagination is still powerfully at work. […] Mr Kneale has his own ghosts and lays them compellingly. – from a review by Michael Gowers

Daily Telegraph 30 September 1963
The idea of investigating a “haunted” place where mysterious sounds are believed to occur annually on a certain day always has an appeal. It has never been carried out with so wild and noisy a result as in last night's BBC television play “The Road.” […] If there was more padding than point to this play, at least the padding contained some interesting character sketches. […] But despite Mr Kneale's great ingenuity with this play it made poor television entertainment. – from a review by J.F.W.



  • Daily Mail 30 September 1963 – review (by Michael Gowers)
  • Daily Telegraph 30 September 1963 – review (by J.F.W.)