Play for Today: Sunset Across The Bay

Sunset Across The Bay.  Broadcast 20 February 1975.  Directed by Stephen Frears.  Written by Alan Bennett.  Duration: 70 minutes.

Cast: Gabrielle Daye (Mam), Harry Markham (Dad), Bob Peck (Bertram).

Alan Bennett’s play ‘Sunset Across The Bay’ looks simple on the surface: a character study of a long marriage which has settled into routine, where the wife has been a housewife and the husband a worker in engineering.

From the Leeds slums where they live – about to be demolished – to the seaside retirement flat at Morecambe, we see the old couple struggle to adjust to spending time together after a life where every day was the same.

As ‘Dad’ says, he’s worked all his life to do nothing, and it’s difficult for him to adjust.

Quietly simplistic but complex as well, ‘Sunset Across The Bay’ is a beautiful piece of work, and everything that drama produced today would not be. There’s no great action sequences, no sex, violence, or swearing, no hand-held filming. It’s completely believable and ordinary, and yet, this being Bennett, it is extraordinary.