A Taste of Honey (film)

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A Taste of Honey
UK release window card
Directed byTony Richardson
Produced byTony Richardson
Screenplay byShelagh Delaney
Tony Richardson
Based onA Taste of Honey
by Shelagh Delaney
StarringDora Bryan
Robert Stephens
Murray Melvin
Paul Danquah
Rita Tushingham
Music byJohn Addison
CinematographyWalter Lassally
Edited byAntony Gibbs
Distributed byBritish Lion Films
Release date
  • 15 September 1961 (1961-09-15)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

A Taste of Honey is a 1961 British film adaptation of the play of the same name by Shelagh Delaney. Delaney wrote the screenplay, aided by director Tony Richardson, who had directed the play on the stage. It is an exemplar of a gritty genre of British film that has come to be called kitchen sink realism.

The film opened on 15 September 1961 at the Leicester Square Theatre in London's West End.[2]


Jo (played by Rita Tushingham) is a 17-year-old Salford schoolgirl, with a difficult, 40-year-old alcoholic mother, Helen (Dora Bryan).[3] After a fall while walking past the dockyards after school, Jo meets a black sailor called Jimmy (Paul Danquah) who invites her onto his ship to attend to her grazed knee. They soon start a brief romantic relationship, after which Jimmy returns to his ship and departs. Relations between Jo and her mother become strained when her mother meets and marries a new man, Peter Smith (Robert Stephens).

Feeling rejected by her mother, Jo starts a job in a shoe shop and rents a flat on her own. She meets a gay textile design student, Geoffrey Ingham (Murray Melvin) and invites him to move in with her. When Jo discovers she is pregnant by Jimmy, Geoff is supportive of her, even offering to marry her, saying "You need somebody to love you while you're looking for somebody to love".

Helen re-appears on the scene after the failure of her relationship with Peter, who turns out to have been a selfish lout. She moves in with Jo, which causes tensions between Helen and Geoff. Geoff decides he can no longer stay at the flat and moves out, leaving Helen to care for Jo and her soon-to-be-born baby. Symbolic of Helen's disdain of Geoffrey is her return, near the end of the film, of the bassinet he gave to Jo.


Awards and honours[edit]

The film won four BAFTA awards: Richardson won Best British Screenplay (with Delaney) and Best British Film, Bryan won Best Actress and Tushingham was named Most Promising Newcomer. Tushingham and Melvin were Best Actress and Actor at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5] In America the film won Tushingham a 1963 Golden Globe for Most Promising Female Newcomer and got Richardson a 1963 Directors Guild of America award nomination. Delaney and Richardson also won a Writers' Guild of Great Britain award.

A Taste of Honey was ranked at 56th place in the BFI Top 100 British films list, made in 1999.


The Criterion Collection released a new, restored 4K digital transfer of the film on Blu-ray and DVD on 23 August 2016.[6]


  1. ^ Alexander Walker, Hollywood, England, Stein and Day, 1974, p. 124.
  2. ^ "Tony Richardson, John Osborne And Rita Tushingham". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  3. ^ "A Taste of Honey (1962) - Full Synopsis". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: A Taste of Honey". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  5. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (15 June 2001). "Stark raving mod". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  6. ^ "A Taste of Honey". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 17 May 2016.

External links[edit]