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Love On The Dole


TV Times front cover for w/c 14 January 1967

Background

The novel Love On The Dole by Walter Greenwood was first published in 1933 and tells of the Hardcastle family and their neighbours in Hankey Park, Salford during the Thirties slump.  The story was dramatised by Ronald Gow and Walter Greenwood and the first performance took place in Manchester in 1934.

The Story

Both novel and play cover the same basic story of the family’s fight to avoid the slide into poverty and the despair that follows unemployment and going on the dole.  In the book the story is told mainly from Harry Hardcastle’s viewpoint while in the play it is his sister, Sally, who is the focus of attention - Harry’s experiences are only covered briefly.  What happens to the family was not unusual for the period and the story is by no means fiction.

The Hardcastles are a decent, pretty typical family of the era but, through little fault of their own, life treats them harshly and events bring them to the edge.  Harry is laid off and goes on the dole; then following a change to the law, he loses his right to dole money.  This happens at the worst possible time for him - his girlfriend, Helen, is pregnant.  Meanwhile, sensible, hard working Sally longs for a life with the man she loves.  Larry is political, a bit of a dreamer but he loves Sally; then he too is laid off.  With the family in desperate straits and her dreams in tatters, it is only Sally who can resolve their problems - but at a high price.

Sally:  I wonder how much longer us women’ll take to learn that living and loving’s all a damn swindle?  Love’s all right on the pictures, but love on the dole ain’t quite the same thing.

The novel and play are still in print and both (thoroughly recommended) can be ordered from good bookshops in the UK or Amazon.

1967 Granada Television Network Production

There have been several television versions of the play.  This Granada production was broadcast in black and white; it was adapted by John Finch and produced by Derek Bennett.  Filming took place during December 1966 in Manchester.

The play opens with Mr Hardcastle out of work, his children (Sally and Harry) having to support the family.  Sally starts courting Larry Meath, to the disapproval of Sam Grundy, a wealthy bookmaker who has his eye on Sally.  He offers to make her his housekeeper at his house in Wales (for housekeeper read mistress).

Cast:

Larry Meath  ..................................... Malcolm Tierney
Sally Hardcastle ..................................... Anne Stallybrass
Mrs Hardcastle ..................................... Eve Pearce
Harry Hardcastle ..................................... Ronald Cunliffe
Mr Hardcastle ..................................... Jack Woolgar
Mrs Bull ..................................... Betty Driver
Mrs Dorbell ..................................... Hazel Hughes
Mrs Jike ..................................... Hazel Coppen
Helen Hawkins ..................................... Maggie Don
Sam Grundy ..................................... George A. Cooper
O’Leary ..................................... Martin Shaw
Policeman ..................................... John Comer


Anne Stallybrass as Sally Hardcastle

We were advised some time ago that the master tape held by Granada had been wiped but fortunately this turned out to be a mistake.  Love On The Dole is held in the ITN Archive and so amazingly, forty years later, it is still possible to see Anne’s performance as Sally Hardcastle.  However, we have to advise that a DVD copy of the play is very expensive - the current charge is around 200 for an hour’s recording.  Here’s how Anne’s performance was reviewed at the time.

“The Granada production ….. was respectful of the play’s values, careful in detail … and excellently cast.  Anne Stallybrass struck the right balance between deep feeling and tough-mindedness for Sally Hardcastle, the girl destroyed by Hankey Park, Salford, in one year of the Dole, 1933.  Her tragedy was greater than Larry Meath’s …...  Malcolm Tierney was fine in the part, the doomed man of principle in a society where principles earned no money.”

The Stage

“The acting in Granada’s production last night, particularly that of Anne Stallybrass as Sally and Ronald Cunliffe as Harry, her brother, had the same freshness and unselfconsciousness which distinguished Granada’s DH Lawrence series.”

The Guardian

"As Sally Hardcastle, whose energy and determination make her resist Hankey Park, Anne Stallybrass acted with spirited North Country common sense."

Daily Telegraph

Pictures TV Times

DR
March 2004
Updated September 2006

Television 60s

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