A Place of My Own

1960 | United Kingdom

A group of building workers have one thing in common - their dreams for the future. Tom wants to move with his wife to a "superior" neighbourhood; Nipper longs for a beautiful girlfriend; and Paddy thinks only of returning to his native Ireland. But Ken, the foreman, is cruelly determined to make them see that their dreams can never be fulfilled. -TV Times (1960)

Four building labourers are toiling on a London site. It is not a big, exciting construction job, just a conversion-dirty, boring work. They are disgruntled and preoccupied with their various ambitions. Tom (William Hartnell) has been building his own house in his spare time; Larry (Bryan Pringle) wants to become a salesman; Paddy (Paul Farrell) has been trying to save money to return to Ireland; and Nipper (Dudley Sutton), the tea boy, day-dreams about success with women. Their foreman (Robert Shaw) is an unpleasant man, unable to get his teams respect. So, in the guise of a realist, he mocks each worker, attempts to destroy their dreams and never loses an opportunity to tell them that only he will succeed and become a guv'nor.

Author Patrick Hughes knew the background intimately. Although writing was his great interest, he also worked as an architect. "When I was a student I worked on building sites as part of my training," he said. "I would like to issue bouquets to the cast, director and designer for making the play look so authentic." In fact, the fulfilment of an ambition was a subject that touched Hughes personally. In 1958 Hughes gave up architecture to write, and said at the time: "I had to give up architecture, even though I knew I was risking my future. I don't yet earn as much money as I used to, but I'm a much happier man." In 1960 he was back in architecture, writing mostly at night. "But I've written another three plays and I think one of them, a comedy, is likely to be presented on ITV fairly soon," he added.

The parts of Tom and the foreman meant welcome changes in their usual roles for William Hartnell and Robert Shaw. "Tom is a thoroughly sympathetic, decent bloke," said Hartnell, "different from the hard military type. It looks as though I may be going back into uniform for my next part, but I've had a break from the Army lately (Hartnell had just given up his long-running role of CSM Percy Bullimore in The Army Game). I was a merchant seaman in Probation Officer a few weeks ago. It's been nice to show that I am not a chap who can play only sergeants." 

Robert Shaw made his name on ITV as the swashbuckling hero Dan Tempest in The Buccaneers series. He preferred the sympathetic parts, "But I've have played a few villains and enjoy the change." The wickedness of the foreman is enhanced through being played with a veneer of friendliness. Shaw had recently achieved his ambition to be a successful writer. "I wrote a number of plays and even had one of them performed at the Arts Theatre. It got some good notices. But I don't consider any of my plays to be good," he said. "I tried a novel, 'The Hiding place', and it's made a good deal of money-a huge success here and it got enthusiastic notices in America."

A Place of My Own ITV Play 1960

Paul Farrell (Paddy) was a Dubliner who divided his time between Ireland and England. He started work as a civil servant, achieved his ambition to become an actor at the age of 24, since then he played in all the famous Irish theatres and appeared in many TV plays and films. 

Bryan Pringle (Larry) was the son of a Bolton vicar. He started his acting career at the age of 17 when he went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art "with the intention of winning a Gold Medal." And he did. 

Dudley Sutton, who was some 10 years older than the part he played, was also a former student of the Academy. He had been seen in such TV programmes as Knight Errant and Shadow Squad. His ambition: "To write a good comedy series for television." 

A Place of My Own was a Television Playhousepresentation made by Granada as a TV Network Production. Directed by James Ormerod, it was broadcast at 9.35 pm on Friday 17 June 1960.

Published on April 4th, 2020. Based on original TV Times article and adapted.