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Play for Today

Play for Today, an anthology series of plays carrying on in the tradition of its predecessor The Wednesday Play, presented controversial works by such writers as Dennis Potter, David Mercer, Alan Bennett, and Jim Allen, with such directors as Ken Loach, Alan Clarke, Philip Saville, and Mike Newell. Several plays in the series led to various spin-offs, including Play for Tomorrow and Rumpole of the Bailey.

Show Info

Network: United Kingdom BBC One (1970 - 1984)
Schedule: Tuesdays at 12:00 (75 min)
Status: Ended
Show Type: Scripted
Genres: DramaScience-Fiction
Episodes ordered: 16 episodes

Official site:

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Previous Episode

Previous Episodes

Episode NameAirdateTrailer
14x16: The Amazing Miss Stella EstelleAug 28, 1984
14x15: Only ChildrenAug 21, 1984
14x14: It Could Happen to AnybodyAug 14, 1984
View full episode list »

Recent discussions

Georginaconn posted a year ago

I have been several years trying to find this.

can anybody help? 

KevinSimmonds posted 3 years ago

I have requested the program but you lot don't reconise it.

Stev1da posted 6 years ago

As I recall it, the play begins with a couple(Paul Copley - I believe, was the male proprietor) putting the finishing touches to, and opening a café/bistro. Their first customer is a quiet,frail old lady who only orders a cup of Tea. They agonise over the wisdom of their decision as business is very slow, then their fortunes change - as the copious shape of Mr Porter enters their lives. A tin whistle pokes through the doorway and with a short few notes played,(Pied Piper style, Mr Porter (Christopher Benjamin - I believe), strides in and casts his critical eye over the establishment before taking his place and ordering.

In a short time he and his wife are regular diners and he has also influenced many other friends to do likewise. Business booms and things are looking very promising. This continues until the night that the Porters come to dine in celebration of their Wedding Anniversary. Ordering liberally from the menu they celebrate in some style until the bill is presented to them. A somewhat shocked Mr Porter expresses his surprise and dismay that they are being charged (given the amount of custom that their influence has brought to the establishment). A falling out occurs. Porter suggests that to satisfy honour, a form of duel should be arranged. Basically it's him against the Menu. Entitled "Porter's Big Eat", He will be fed for free this one time.

On the night of the event Porter arrives with his entourage of supporters - sporting (among other things) a lightweight fork - for ease of handling, and to reduce fatigue. He goes to work on the Menu, his prolific assault on the various dishes includes him ordering certain dishes totally out of sequence (the norm being starter, main course, sweet). After a gargantuan effort he is seen to wilt and fall quiet and to a standstill. A tense silence ensues before he rises and flees from the café. followed by every last person there - except for the proprietors, seemingly shocked and silenced by the nights events.

As they scan their now deserted venue, they feel that all is now seemingly lost. A lone frail and distressed figure staggers in. It is the old lady - their original customer on their first night. They get her sat down and tend to her. In answer to their questions as to what is the matter with her - she advises "Ooh it's terrible, Mr Porter has just burst outside Woolworths !" (The play ends).

As I remember things - the Play is presented from the perspective of Paul Copley's character telling the story, scene setting and reminiscing.

I only ever saw it once. The only other person I know who saw it was my Sister. She, like me, thought it was a classic.

I hope that my memory has done it justice.

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