Play for Today: Brimstone and Treacle (1987)

UK, 25 August
16mm film, colour, 4:3
mono, English
Series: Play for Today (1970-1984)

A British horror television episode written by Dennis Potter and directed by Barry Davis. It was originally made in 1976 for the BBC's Play for Today (1970-1984) strand but as the planned broadcast date of 6 April 1976 approached, Director-General Alasdair Milne refused to allow it to be shown and it remained unseen until 1987. In the meantime, a feature film version had been produced and released in 1982.

Plot Summary

Tom and Norma Bates, a middle-aged couple living in suburban Britain, care for their teenaged daughter Patricia, paralysed in a traffic accident. Tom – who caused the accident that left his daughter an invalid – meets a mysterious young man, Martin, who charms his way into the Bates household, suggesting that he be allowed to look after Patricia. But is Martin all he seems to be?


Director: Barry Davis
Producer: Kenith Trodd
Script: Dennis Potter
Studio Lighting: Dave Sydenham
Film Camera: Peter Bartlett
Film Editor: Tony Woollard
Film Recording: Doug Mawson
Studio Sound: Tony Miller
Costumes: John Bloomfield
Make Up: Marion Richards
Designer: Colin Shaw
Production Assistant: Vee Openshaw-Taylor

Denholm Elliott (Mr Bates)
Michael Kitchen (Martin)
Patricia Lawrence (Mrs Bates)
Michelle Newell (Pattie Bates)
Paul Williamson (businessman)
Esmond Webb (man with dog)
Patricia Quayle (woman in street
James Greene (man in street)

Brimstone and Treacle (1982)



  • Fight and Kick and Bite: The Life and Work of Dennis Potter pp.355-356 – credits