Days of Hope

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Days of Hope
Written byJim Allen
Directed byKen Loach
StarringPaul Copley
Pamela Brighton
Nikolas Simmonds
Theme music composerMarc Wilkinson
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes4
Producer(s)Tony Garnett
CinematographyTony Pierce-Roberts
John Else
Editor(s)Roger Waugh
Running time410 minutes
Original networkBBC One
Original release11 September (1975-September-11) –
2 October 1975 (1975-October-02)

Days of Hope is a BBC television drama serial produced in 1975. The series dealt with the lives of a working-class family from the turmoils of the First World War in 1916 to the General Strike in 1926. It was written by Jim Allen, produced by Tony Garnett and directed by Ken Loach.


# Title Original airdate Running time
1"1916: Joining Up"11 September 1975 (1975-09-11)95 minutes
Ben Matthews enlists in the army and ends up serving in Ireland, where there is resistance to British rule. His sister's husband Philip Hargreaves is sentenced to death as a conscientious objector but is given a last-minute reprieve.
2"1921"18 September 1975 (1975-09-18)100 minutes
During the coal lock-out in 1921, Ben's army unit is redeployed from Ireland to police the dispute in County Durham. Ben deserts the army and is sheltered by a miner named Joel. He begins a relationship with his eldest daughter. When donations of food from Liverpool is intercepted by the police and the army, the miners revolt and take some soldiers hostage. Joel and his comrades then make demands on the pit owner, Mr. Pitchard.
3"1924"25 September 1975 (1975-09-25)80 minutes
Ben is released from prison and joins the Communist Party. Philip Hargreaves is elected as a Labour MP.
4"1926: General Strike"2 October 1975 (1975-10-02)135 minutes
The miners are betrayed by union leaders during the General Strike.

Box-set and certification[edit]

Days of Hope is included on the Ken Loach at the BBC DVD box-set released in 2011.

The first two episodes of the series were given 15 certificates: the first episode for strong language,[1] and the second for strong language and moderate violence.[2] This resulted in the entire box-set's being certified as 15, although none of the other dramas in the collection included had a 15 certificate.

The second episode has a violent scene in which a miner's daughter is interrogated by an army officer.[citation needed]

Episodes 3 and 4 revolve around dialogue rather than action; they were given PG certificates.[3][4]


The first episode of Days of Hope caused considerable controversy in the British media owing to its critical depiction of the military in World War I,[5] and particularly over a scene where conscientious objectors were tied up to stakes outside trenches in view of enemy fire after refusing to obey orders.[6][7] An ex-serviceman subsequently contacted The Times newspaper with an illustration from the time of a similar scene.[7] In an interview, Loach said that numerous letters were written to newspapers about small inaccuracies (e.g. the soldiers' marching formations) but relatively few challenging the main narrative of events.[8]

In contrast, the Marxist historian John Newsinger has argued that the final episode of Days of Hope was so concerned with historical accuracy about the General Strike that it had become "boring" and "a heroic failure". He contrasts this with "the magnificent socialist dramas" in the first episodes, which were less concerned with historical accuracy.[9]

Winston Churchill is portrayed relatively negatively in the series, which highlights his attitude towards the coal miners during the strikes of 1921 and 1926. Ken Loach said in an interview that the media were particularly offended by a line that compared Churchill to a vulture and Lenin to an eagle.[8]


  • Paul Copley as Ben Matthews
  • Pamela Brighton as Sarah Hargreaves
  • Nikolas Simmonds as Philip Hargreaves
  • Alun Armstrong as Billy Shepherd
  • Clifford Kershaw as Tom Matthews
  • Helene Palmer as Martha Matthews
  • Gary Roberts as Joel Barnett
  • Jean Spence as May Barnett
  • Christine Anderson as Jenny Barnett
  • John Phillips as Josiah Wedgwood
  • Stephen Rea as Reporter


  1. ^ BBFC: Days of Hope, Episode 1
  2. ^ BBFC: Days of Hope, Episode 2
  3. ^ BBFC: Days of Hope, Episode 3
  4. ^ BBFC: Days of Hope, Episode 4
  5. ^ BFI Screen Online - Days of Hope (1975)
  6. ^ Ken Loach - the controversies
  7. ^ a b Days of Hope, Tony Williams, Cinémathèque Annotations on Film, Issue 31, April 2004
  8. ^ a b Interview on Disc 6 of the box-set Ken Loach at the BBC
  9. ^ Newsinger, John (Summer 1999). "Scenes from the class war: Ken Loach and socialist cinema". International Socialism. 2:83. Retrieved 28 August 2017.

External links[edit]