Edna, the Inebriate Woman

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Edna, the Inebriate Woman is a British television drama written by Jeremy Sandford which was transmitted on BBC 1 as part of the Play for Today series on 21 October 1971. Directed by Ted Kotcheff, Irene Shubik produced it.

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) of 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. A great deal of the dialogue and the incidents in the play come from the book, Down and Out in Britain published by Jeremy Sandford in 1971; although the majority of the speakers in the book are male, Jeremy Sandford puts much of their speech into the mouth of the female character.

The filmed 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 Withnail and I.

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

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