Threads (1984)

UK, USA, Australia, 23 September 1984
114m
16mm film; 35mm film (blow-up), colour, 4:3
mono, English

A British science fiction television film directed by Mick Jackson.

Plot Summary

The USA and USSR clash in Iran, a conflict that escalates inexorably towards the unthinkable. Two families in Sheffield try to cope with the worsening world situation and are witness to the devastation that follows a full nuclear strike on the UK. The survivors struggle to survive in the harsh aftermath as the war continues to exert its terrible grip many years after it ended.

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Mick Jackson
© BBC MCMLXXXIV [1984]
A BBC TV production in association with Western-World Television Inc. and The Nine Network (Australia)
Executive Producers: John Purdie, Graham Massey
Produced by: Mick Jackson
Associate Producer: Peter Wolfes
Production Managers: Jacinta Peel, Matthew Kuipers
[Written] By: Barry Hines
Photography: Andrew Dunn, Paul Morris
Camera Operator: Andrew Dunn *
Film Editor [sic]: Jim Latham, Donna Bickerstaff
Sound: Graham Ross, John Hale
Assistant Dubbing Mixer: Simon Muir *
Costume Designer: Sally Nieper
Make-Up Designer: Jan Nethercott
Make-Up Assistants: Carol Gibbs *, Derek Lloyd *
Visual Effects Designer: Peter Wragg
Graphic Designer: Andy Coward
Designer: Christopher Robilliard
Properties Buyer: Dorothy Elliott
Assistant Floor Managers: Simon Moorhead, Pennie Bloomfield
Production Assistants: Wendy Plowright, Elizabeth Downie
Programme Advisors: Dr Arthur Katz, Professor Joseph Rotblat, Dr John Coggle, Dr John Dawson, Dr David Holloway, Duncan Campbell, Eric Alley
Locations: Spitewater Farm, Peak District National Park, UK *; Curber Edge, Peak District National Park, UK *
The BBC wishes to thank: the city of Sheffield; The Home Office; Home Defence College; The British Medical Association; and Prof. Robert J. Lifton; Prof. John Erikson; Prof. Michael McElroy; Prof. Carl Sagan; Prof. George Rathjens; Prof. Bernard Feld; Dr Peter Sharfman; Dr Richard Turco; Dr Philp Steadman; Dr George Woodwell; Dr Alan Longman; Dr Eric Chivian; Dr Norman Myers; Peter Goodwin; George Crossley; Dennis Moralee; Michael Krepon; Bill Arkin; Barry Blechman
Stunt Person: Dorothy Ford

Cast
Karen Meagher (Ruth Becket)
Reece Dinsdale (Jimmy Kemp)
David Brierley (Mr Kemp)
Rita May (Mrs Kemp)
Nicholas Lane (Michael Kemp)
Jane Hazlegrove (Alison Kemp)
Henry Moxon (Mr Beckett)
June Broughton (Mrs Beckett)
Sylvia Stoker (Granny Beckett)
Harry Beety (Mr Sutton)
Ruth Holden (Mrs Sutton)
Ashley Barker (Bob)
Michael O’Hagan (Chief Superintendent Hirst)
Phil Rose (medical officer)
Steve Halliwell (information officer)
Brian Grellis (accomodation officer)
Peter Faulkner (transport officer)
Anthony Collin (food officer)
Michael Ely (scientific advisor)
Sharon Baylis (manpower officer)
David Stutt (works officer)
Phil Askham (Mr Stothard)
Anna Seymour (Mrs Stothard)
Fiona Rook (Carol Stothard)
Christine Buckley (woman in supermarket)
Joe Belcher (shopkeeper)
David Major (boy in supermarket)
Maggie Ford (peace speaker)
Mike Kay (trade unionist)
Richard Albrecht (officer at food depot)
Ted Beyer, Dean Williamson (policemen)
Joe Holmes (Mr Langley)
Andy Fenn-Rodgers (patrol officer)
Graham Hill (1st soldier)
Nigel Collins (2nd soldier)
Jerry Ready, Dennis Conlon (looters)
Greta Dunn (woman at hospital)
Nat Jackley (old man in graveyard)
John Livesey (street trader)
Victoria O’Keefe (Jane)
Lee Daley (Spike)
Marcus Lund (Gaz)
Lesley Judd, Colin Ward-Lewis (newscasters)
Paul Vaughan (narrator)

Alternative Titles

After the Bomb
Cat√°strofe Nuclear – Brazil

See also
By Dawn’s Early Light (1990)
The Day After (1983)
Miracle Mile (1988)
Q.E.D.: A Guide to Armageddon (1982)
The War Game (1965)

Press

1984
Broadcast 5 October 1984 p.27
Well, the End of the World As We Know It came and went the other Sunday night on BBC2, and if anything Mick Jackson’s Threads was more devastating, relentless and explicit than even he had warned it would be. – from a review by Patrick Stoddart

Television Today 27 September 1984 p.14
Described as a play, it nevertheless had a riveting documentary content […] Unlike [The Day After], Threads featured no well-known faces, no silver-haired Hollywood father figure to defuse our fears and make us ever conscious that what we were watching was only fiction […] Threads was harrowing in a different way from The Day After. The American production used the cliches of any disaster movie to portray the unthinkable was was terrifying largely because it was produced in the United States, one of the “super-powers” who would share the responsibility for instigating such a nuclear exchange. Threads did not attempt to preach, merely to present all the available information in an objective way, and force us to think about the outcome of a nuclear conflict.

The Listener vol.112 no.2876 (20 September 1984) p.32
Every step leading up to the outbreak of nuclear war is entirely plausible. We never find out who started it nor, after it’s happened, are we much interested […] The imagery of the film is powerful and profoundly disturbing. – from an illustrated article (Tearing Threads) by Benjamin Woolley

References

Periodicals

  • Broadcast 31 August 1984 p.35 – illustrated article (New Lionheart Push BBC co-production by Basil Comley)
  • Broadcast 28 September 1984 pp.8; 40 – illustrated note (Threads unchanged for Soviets by Basil Comely); article (Threads’ sales were last minute push by Basil Comley
  • Broadcast 5 October 1984 p.27 – illustrated review (The Threads of nuclear impact by Patrick Stoddart)
  • Broadcast 1 March 1985 pp.5; 32-33 – note (Holocaust drama for Eastern Europe by Basil Comely); interview with Jim Latham (The craft of unsung heroes by Quentin Falk)
  • City Limits no.155 (21 September 1984) pp.16-18 – illustrated article (Jerusalem demolished by Kathy Myers)
  • Cult TV June 1998 pp.19-28 – illustrated article (The 50 Greatest TV moments of all time by Rob Fraser, Steve Jarratt, John Kent, Paul Kirkley et al)
  • Deathray no.20 (August/September 2009) pp.156-163 – illustrated article (Time trap: Destination: 1984 by Jes Bickham and Matt Bielby)
  • Emmy vol.7 no.1 (January/February 1985) pp.17, 20 – article
  • Empire no.197 (November 2005) p.156 – illustrated DVD review (At Home/Movies: Best Buys: Threads by Sam Toy)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.285 no.18 (16 January 1985) pp.3, 32 – review (by Wolf Schneider)
  • The Listener vol.112 no.2876 (20 September 1984) p.32 – illustrated article (Tearing Threads by Benjamin Woolley)
  • The Listener vol.112 no.2877 (27 September 1984) p.40 – review
  • The Listener vol.112 no.2877 (27 September 1984) pp.3-6, 23 – article
  • The Listener vol.112 no.2878 (4 October 1984) p.40 – article
  • The Listener vol.112 no.2880 (18 October 1984) p.26 – article
  • Playback Special Collectors Edition 1995 p.33 – illustrated article
  • Radio Times vol.247 no.3219 (27 July 1985) pp.3-5 – article
  • Radio Times 22-28 September 1984 pp.3; 17-19 – article (Could it really happen? by John Tusa); illustrated article (Acting Armageddon by Jim Crace)
  • Radio Times vol.244 no.3179 (13 October 1984) p.96 – letters
  • Radio Times vol.244 no.3180 (20-26 October 1984) p.96 – letters
  • Screen International no.486 (2 March 1985) p.26 – note
  • Screen International no.487 (9 March 1985) p.box office insert – note
  • Sight & Sound vol.16 no.2 (February 2006) p.90 – DVD review (Television: Threads by Sergio Angelini)
  • Starburst no.78 (1985) p.43 – review (TV Zone by Richard Hollis)
  • Stills no.13 (October 1984) p.63 – article
  • Television Today 10 November 1983 p.23 – note
  • Television Today 27 September 1984 p.14 – editorial
  • Television Weekly no.82 (17 August 1984) p.16 – illustrated news article (Horrors of nuclear attack by Jan Thompson)
  • Television Weekly no.86 (14 September 1984) p.20 – note (The day after that)
  • Television Weekly no.87 (21 September 1984) pp.10-11 – (illustrated article, interviews with Barry Hines and Mick Jackson (Threads bares nuclear nerve by Julian Petley)
  • Time Out no.735 (20 September 1984) p.83 – review
  • Variety 26 September 1984 – review (by Pit)

Newspapers

  • Daily Express 25 September 1984 p.21 – review

Books

  • The Encyclopedia of TV Science Fiction (3rd edition) pp.672-673 – credits, review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.506-507 – credits
  • Nuclear Movies: A Filmography by Mick Broderick p.99 – review
  • Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks by Alwyn W. Turner p.231

Other sources

  • British National Film & Video Catalogue vol.23 (1985) – credits