Having seen firsthand the distressing results of the inefficiencies within the housing and benefit system, I remembered hearing about the film "Cathy Come Home" and so watched it on YouTube.
Cathy Come Home is a BBC television drama by Jeremy Sandford, produced by Tony Garnett and directed by Ken Loach. Filmed in a gritty, realisticdrama documentary style, it was first broadcast on 16 November 1966 on BBC1. The play was shown in the BBC's The Wednesday Play anthology strand, which was well known for tackling social issues.
The play tells the story of a young couple, Cathy (played by Carol White) and Reg (Ray Brooks). Initially their relationship flourishes and they have a child and move into a modern home. When Reg is injured and loses his well-paid job, they are evicted by bailiffs, and they face a life of poverty and unemployment, illegally squatting in empty houses and staying in shelters. Finally, Cathy has her children taken away by social services.
Loach's realistic style helped to heighten the play's impact, particularly the scene in which Cathy and Reg are forcibly evicted with their children by bailiffs from the home in which they have been unable to keep up rent payments. This powerful sequence, largely improvised, is often repeated in the UK in documentaries both about UK television history and the changing awareness of social issues in the 1960s.
It was watched by 12 million people — a quarter of the British population at the time — on its first broadcast. It broached issues that were not then widely discussed in the popular media, such as homelessness, unemployment, and the rights of mothers to keep their own children. It may have helped to influence changes in British law and in public opinion about these social issues. It also helped raise the profile of the issue of homelessness.
The film is often wrongly seen as influencing the founding of the charity for the homeless Shelter shortly after first broadcast but in actuality this was a coincidence. However, the large audience for this programme and the influence it had on the British population led to great support for Shelter moving from being a small organisation to one with a national reach. As Shelter states: "Watched by 12 million people on its first broadcast, the film alerted the public, the media, and the government to the scale of the housing crisis, and Shelter gained many new supporters."
Adapted from article in Wikipedia
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