A Divorce

 

Michael Kitchen appears as Laurence in A Divorce, three tele-plays on divorce by Fanny Galleymore.

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1976

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Reviews & Interviews


Night work
The Spectator; August 27, 1976; Richard Ingrams

After two weeks of dilatoriness, I decided to make a real effort and tune in to a programme of the type I wouldn't normally dream of watching. The unlucky choice was a play called A Divorce (BBC 2) described in the Daily Telegraph as 'the third in a trilogy' - the sort of thing I presumed that serious critics would be viewing. It opened with a morose-looking young woman smoking a cigarette on a bed. Enter a man whose name it transpires is Lawrence Cohen.

Lawrence and his wife are in a divorce situation and are going to dispense with the services of their solicitor. (This veiled attack on the legal profession turned out to be the only good thing about A Divorce.) Diana the cigarette-smoker is then shown bawling out a pop song in a discotheque. Lawrence and his wife, a kind selfless woman - possibly based on the author Ms Fanny Galleymore - fill in their legal forms; there is a scene in which their small son is introduced to Diana and takes a strong dislike to her; Diana then goes to bed with a moustachioed American person whose precise role I am unsure of - we are given an unpleasing glimpse of his naked bum - and apparently disillusioned by the experience rounds on his discotheque audience before returning in dudgeon to her parents in the North of England.

There then followed some traditional scenes with the parents talking in thick Mellors - '0h it's thee is it ? 'Appen tha's come back for summat. Tha's done areet for thaself lass. I had nowt' etc etc. Cut to the Divorce Court for a documentary-style enactment of the proceedings and the play fizzled out with its characters left, as far as I could see, in the air.

I have the feeling that a lot of BBC drama is currently of this type and is broadcast on the grounds that it appears to be concerned with things like 'contemporary attitudes to marriage'. Ms Galleymore seemed to be wanting to make Observer Woman's Page pronouncements rather than write imaginative drama, but even so the nature of the pronouncements was never made clear.

(After the play ended I began to regret having taken on this job. I had stayed up long after the Reggie Bosanquet deadline - 10.30 - and retired to bed in a mood of despondency which was not lifted by switching over for a moment to ITV and catching a glimpse of Marianne Faithfull dressed in leather goods caressing a motor cycle. In future I will not watch any programmes out of a sense of duty.)