Cathy Come Home

16 November 1966

Cathy Come Home was broadcast on 16 November 1966, in the regular Wednesday Play slot. The drama, written by Jeremy Sandford and directed by Ken Loach, exposed Britain's chronic housing shortage.

It follows the story of Cathy Ward, played by Carol White, on a downward spiral from young mother - living with husband Reg in a new flat "with parquet flooring and tin openers fixed to the walls" - to the point where she is homeless and alone. In the memorable final scene her children are forcibly taken from her by Social Services and put into care.

An excerpt from Cathy Come Home, TX 16 November 1966

Cathy Come Home demonstrated the ability of television drama to affect audiences, put homelessness on the public agenda, and gave a huge boost to the charity Shelter. The play was mostly filmed on location using hand held cameras. The naturalistic action was contextualised by a voiceover that provided facts on the housing crisis. The issues raised by the drama were widely debated, and policy changes followed, so families were not broken up so readily.

Cathy Come Home was voted the best drama in the BFI100 poll of British Television in 2000. Stanford went on to write Edna the Inebriate Woman. Loach has had notable success in the cinema, from Kes, to The Wind that Shakes the Barley. The BBC has continued to make original dramas that raise social concerns, such as the acclaimed Five Daughters.

November anniversaries