Play for Today (1970–1984)
5 user 1 critic

Sunset Across the Bay 

A married couple, after a life time of work and bringing up a family, retire and awaken to the fast changing world around them, the habitual nature of their relationship, and what they have left.


Stephen Frears


Alan Bennett (by)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Gabrielle Daye ... Mam
Harry Markham Harry Markham ... Dad
Bob Peck ... Bertram
Christine Buckley Christine Buckley ... Woman in flats
Bill Pilkington Bill Pilkington ... Woman's husband
Elizabeth Dawn ... Canteen Lady
Peter Wallis ... Gatekeeper
Paul Shane ... Removal Man
Joe Belcher ... Workman
Albert Modley Albert Modley ... Arthur
Betty Alberge ... Mrs Longstaff
Marjorie Sudell Marjorie Sudell ... Newsagent
Clifford Kershaw Clifford Kershaw ... 1st Man in teabar
Joe Kenyon Joe Kenyon ... 2nd Man in teabar
Bernard Wrigley ... Milkman


A married couple, after a life time of work and bringing up a family, retire and awaken to the fast changing world around them, the habitual nature of their relationship, and what they have left.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama







Release Date:

20 February 1975 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


[Mam and Dad are on a coach]
Mam: It's one of them buses with a lavatory. Are you going to go?
Dad: I don't want to go.
Mam: I do.
Dad: Well go then.
Mam: I don't want *everybody* to know I'm going.
Dad: [looking across at another passenger] She's been in twice already. She were in there before we got to Stanningley. Anyway, what's does it matter what folk think? We're retired now.
Mam: All right. Hold me bag.
[Mam walks to the back of the bus, goes into the cubicle and comes back a few minutes later]
Mam: I went. It's very ingenious. ...
See more »


Featured in Alan Bennett at 80: Bennett Meets Hytner (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

Beautifully sad and poignant
1 October 2007 | by bronwenwrigleySee all my reviews

I agree with the previous writer who said what a beautiful story this is. It is poignantly sad, with a nostalgic feel about the whole thing, not least in the setting - a decaying British seaside resort in the mid '70s. But what I cannot agree with is that the couple are still "very happy" with each other. On the contrary, I think one of the saddest things about the play is that they are clearly incredibly, almost intolerably BORED with each other. Yes, they have got used to being together, but that is part of the trouble. The lady has managed to convince herself that all is fine, because she has to believe it or what would have been the point of her life? - but the man's irritation is constantly bubbling under the surface of his old-fashioned decency and courtesy. In my opinion, Bennett has hit on one of the sad truths of human life: that a large number of people who stay married for decades do it just because there is literally nothing else to do.

A marvellous play for all kinds of reasons. But try not to take it merely at face value - there are numerous side issues such as the one I mentioned above. I just wish this kind of play was written nowadays, but sadly, good playwriting seems a lost art. The BBC's "Play For Today" was superb - now we have to endure Trinny and Susannah telling us what clothes to wear.

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