Spring and Port Wine

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Spring and Port Wine
Written byBill Naughton
Date premieredOctober 1959
Original languageEnglish

Spring and Port Wine is a stage play by Bill Naughton which was turned into a film (1970). The story is set in Bolton and concerns the Crompton family, in particular the father, Rafe, and his attempts to assert his authority in the household as his children grow up.


It began life under the title My Flesh, My Blood as a BBC radio play, broadcast on 17 August 1957 in the Saturday Night Theatre strand. By April 1958 a BBC TV version had been broadcast and in October 1959 a stage adaptation was presented at the Bolton Hippodrome.

Retitled Spring and Port Wine, the play was first produced in Birmingham prior to opening at London's Mermaid Theatre in November 1965, produced by Allan Davis and Michael Medwin in association with the Mermaid Theatre Trust; Davis was also the director. In January 1966 the production transferred to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, with Alfred Marks, Ruth Dunning, John Alderton, Jennifer Wilson, Ray Mort, Gretchen Franklin and Melvyn Hayes in the cast. Subsequently moving to the New Theatre in July 1967 and the St Martin's in June 1968, it achieved a West End run of 1,236 performances. Alfred Marks, meanwhile, had left the cast and from 1967-8 played the lead role of Rafe Crompton in an Australian tour.

The play was adapted (by N. Richard Nash, who was uncredited[1]) to a setting in the United States under the title Keep It in the Family, which ran on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre for five performances in September 1967.[2] The play was profiled in the William Goldman book The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway.

Film adaptation[edit]

Spring and Port Wine
Spring and Port Wine FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byPeter Hammond
Produced byMichael Medwin
Written byBill Naughton
StarringJames Mason
Diana Coupland
Music byDouglas Gamley
Edited byFergus McDonell
Distributed byAnglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors
Release date
  • 19 February 1970 (1970-02-19)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The play was filmed in 1969 - produced, once again, by Michael Medwin - and the result is a valuable time-capsule in that it depicts a Bolton of large, long-gone chimneys. Other parts of the film show street scenes and wide shots of the town as it was at the time of filming. It was filmed as St. Peters Way was being constructed and whilst many of the old industrial buildings remained. The lives depicted are very real for the period and this film captures an industrial town in transformation.

In the film, Rafe was played by James Mason, and Diana Coupland played his wife Daisy. Susan George, Rodney Bewes, Hannah Gordon and Len Jones played the children, with Keith Buckley as Arthur and Frank Windsor, Avril Elgar and Adrienne Posta as their next-door neighbours, and Bernard Smidowicz as the Horsefall & Trott delivery driver. It was directed by Peter Hammond. Naughton himself provided the adaptation, and it was filmed on location in Bolton and at Lee International Studios in Wembley, Middlesex.



The movie was the first film shot at Elstree Studios after Bryan Forbes took over.[4] Two-thirds of the budget was provided by Anglo-EMI, Nat Cohen's subsidiary of EMI Films.[3]

Radio Versions[edit]

After the film version, Naughton's play returned to its radio roots no fewer than three times, featuring in the BBC's Afternoon Theatre strand in August 1975, July 1979 and July 1982.


  1. ^ Goldman, William (1969). The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway (1st Limelight ed.). New York: Limelight Editions. p. 29. ISBN 0879100230.
  2. ^ Keep It in the Family at the Internet Broadway Database
  3. ^ a b Moody, Paul (19 October 2018). EMI Films and the Limits of British Cinema. Springer. p. 85.
  4. ^ Pearson, Kenneth. "The Great Film Gamble." Sunday Times [London, England] 13 Apr. 1969: 53. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.

External links[edit]