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Edna, the Inebriate Woman

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Edna, the Inebriate Woman is a British television drama starring Patricia Hayes. The film, written by award-winning screenwriter Jeremy Sandford, was first broadcast on BBC 1 on 21 October 1971, as part of the Play for Today series. It was directed by Ted Kotcheff and produced by Irene Shubik.


The play deals with an elderly woman, Edna (Patricia Hayes), who wanders through life in an alcoholic haze without a home, a job or any money. A rambling, pathetic yet defiant woman, Edna sleeps rough and begs for food and shelter and the drama follows her progress as she moves from hostel to hostel, going to a psychiatric ward and then prison along the way. At the end, a small home for homeless women run by Josie Quinn (Barbara Jefford) from a Christian charity, 'Jesus Saves', is closed down after an inquiry, following the complaints of neighbours. Edna and the other women are on the road again.




Jeremy Sandford, who had previously written Cathy Come Home, researched the play by living rough himself for two weeks, on two separate occasions.[1] A great deal of the dialogue and the incidents in the play come from the book, Down and Out in Britain published by Sandford in 1971; although the majority of the speakers in the book are male, Sandford puts much of their speech into the mouth of the main female character.


The drama features one of the few acting roles (as a tramp) of British actor Vivian MacKerrell, the real-life inspiration for the character Withnail in the British film Withnail and I (1987).


Filming took place in November and December 1970.[2]

Reception and awards

The play gained an audience of some 9 million on its first showing, an unqualified success.[3]

At the 1972 British Academy Television Awards, the play won the Best Drama Production category and Patricia Hayes received the award for Best Actress.


  1. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Edna the Inebriate Woman (1971)". www.screenonline.org.uk.
  2. ^ Shubik, Irene (2000). Play For Today: The Evolution of Television Drama. Manchester University Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780719056871.
  3. ^ "Edna, the Inebriate Woman – TV Cream". tvcream.co.uk.
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Edna, the Inebriate Woman
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