The Bush and the Tree

1960 | United Kingdom

Alf Liddell is a quiet, good humoured, home-loving man who prefers to keep out of the limelight. But when Alf is elected to the local council he proves to be a man of principles-so strong that he soon makes powerful enemies. These enemies are delighted when Councillor Alf is found in the company of a woman whose case he has championed. 

John O'Toole, a factory official who lived in Earby, Lancashire, wrote this play for a Granada drama contest. Set in Lancashire, it is the story about the growth in Alf Liddell, a little man grappling with the fear that he and his wife are drifting apart and that she is losing respect for him. "Most of us can recognise this period in married life" said O'Toole. "Sometimes we abandon all hope and "the other woman," as in Alf's case, gives shape and direction to our efforts. Alf's other woman, Molly Squires, however, does so without ever seriously threatening an alternative source of contentment." Principle parts in this triangle are taken by Milo O'Shea as Alf, Gabrielle Daye as his wife, Clarice and Doreen Keogh as Molly Squires. 

Alf is elected an urban district councillor at Pulby, and is overawed by the honour which his wife and brother-in-law, Tom (Peter Collingwood), engineered for him. Tom tells his sister: "Alf's a little man; you're big. You married a bush, Clarice, but you're not satisfied. You want a tree and he's trying to meet you half way. He's reaching up, but you won't reach down." Alf would have probably continued to be submissive but for the arrival of Molly Squires, a person weaker than himself, who turns to him for protection. She is an unmarried mother, a squatter the council want to eject from a condemned house. She begs the new councillor to champion her: "It's not the house they are condemning-it's me. Please Mr Liddell, don't let them put me out. Stop them," she says. Alf replies: "Stop them? Me?" It has never occurred to him to challenge anyone in his life and no one is more surprised than Alf himself when at the council meeting he stands up to Councillor Big Rudd Jephson (Claude Jones) and insists on a review of Molly's case. But a middle-aged man who champions an attractive young woman is bound to arouse suspicion in a place like Pulby and find himself in trouble with his wife and up to his neck in local politics. Shown on ITV as part of the Television Playhouse strand on Friday 29th January 1960 at 9:25 - 10:35pm 

Published on March 19th, 2019. Written by Adapted from original TV Times article (1960) for Television Heaven.