We hosted a screening at 3MT of the television drama The Lump by Jim Allen, first broadcast in The Wednesday Play series on the BBC on 1 February 1967. This play was directed by the late Jack Gold and produced by Tony Garnett. We were delighted that Tony was able to come up from London to be with us for this event.
In 1967 Tony wrote this in the Radio Times about the play.
“The headlines scream. A strike has broken out. The economy is being ruined by irresponsible elements. There are Reds under every bed. When it is very serious we hear grand phrases about “a tightly knit group of politically motivated men”. Yorky is such a man.
What is Yorky like? Physically he is a giant. Over six feet tall and sixteen stone, he is a bulldozer of a man. He loves his ale and hates the bosses. He is a bricklayer by trade and a revolutionary by vocation. For him a strike it not just an argument about another penny an hour – it is part of his life’s work to change the very structure of our society. Nothing will divert him from his purpose. A gentle man with a wry humour, he will not draw back from violence. He is a tough man in a rough industry. An industry which is getting rougher. Because over it falls the shadow of “the Lump”, a system of work where men are self-employed and on their own. Bought and sold like cattle on the hoof, they are often behind with their tax, their cards are unstamped, and an accident at work can lead them to the scrap-heap.
The Government is worried about it. The Unions hate it and many employers oppose it. It leads to industrial anarchy and it has been spreading like wildfire. Its shadow falls over Yorky. But he knows what he is doing – or so he thinks. Meet this man who sets himself up to fight the whole world. Whatever you think of him, I hope the conflict will grip you”.
This event was sold out. After the screening Tony gave a fascinating account of his work with Jim Allen, praising his honesty and integrity and the quality of his writing. He described him as perhaps the most important writer on television in that era. He also believed that it would be impossible to get this kind of drama on television nowadays.
This is a link to the Blacklisting campaign , which campaigns for justice for trade unionists blacklisted by employers in the building and other industries.
Our thanks to Gina and John at 3MT.
We showed a copy of The Lump provided by the British Film Institute. Our thanks to Matthew Harle at the BFI for arranging this.