The One Day of the Year

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The One Day of the Year
Written byAlan Seymour
Date premiered20 July 1960
Place premieredAdelaide
Original languageEnglish

The One Day of the Year is an Australian play by Alan Seymour originally written in 1958 about Anzac Day.


Alf’s son Hughie and his girlfriend Jan plan to document Anzac Day for the university newspaper, focusing on the drinking on Anzac Day. For the first time in his life Hughie refuses to attend the dawn service with Alf. When he watches the march on television at home with his mother and Wacka, he is torn between outrage at the display and love for his father.


Alf Cook, Dot Cook, Hughie Cook, Wacka Dawson and Jan Castle.


The play was inspired by an article in the University of Sydney newspaper Honi Soit criticising Anzac Day and Seymour's own observations of how ex-servicemen behaved on that day. The character of Alf was based on Seymour's brother in law.[1]


The play was rejected by the Adelaide Festival of Arts Board of Governors in 1960, but made its debut on 20 July 1960 as an amateur production by the Adelaide Theatre Group. Jean Marshall, the Director, and those involved in the Adelaide production received death threats. The first professional season was in April 1961 at the Palace Theatre in Sydney. It proved controversial and Seymour also received death threats however it was popular and there have been productions ever since. In 1961 Seymour travelled to London where the play was directed by Raymond Menmuir at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.[2]

1962 Australian television version[edit]

"The One Day of the Year"
The General Motors Hour episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 2
Directed byRod Kinnear
Teleplay byJohn Sumner
Original air date7 July 1962 (Sydney, Melbourne)[3][4]
Episode chronology
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The play was adapted for Australian TV in June 1962. It was directed by Rod Kinnear and adapted by John Sumner.[5][6]



The production was produced by GTV-9 in Melbourne after a 16 week run of the show in which 28,000 people saw the show. It was estimated 300,000 would see the television production. Some of the language from the original play was cut.[7]

It was the first of three plays of The General Motors Hour that year. The cast were all members of the Melbourne Union Theatre Repertory Company, which originally presented the play in Melbourne and toured three states.[8][9][10]


The TV critic for the Sydney Morning Herald said the shortened adaptation "suffered much less than might have been expected in its transfer" to television, saying it "sometimes tended to focus more sharply the growing and bitter awareness of the increasing estrangement between an ill-educated, soured lift-driver and his university student son. On' the other hand, some scenes of richly meaningful theatrical impact missed badly."[11]

The TV critic for The Age said the "subject of this play overshadow the acting and the sets, giving the production a sleek look that it did not entirely merit."[12]

The Bulletin called it "awful".[13]


The TV movie won Best Drama and Best Actor (for Syd Conabere) at the Logie Awards of 1963.[14]

1962 British television version[edit]

The play was adapted for British TV in 1962 and produced by James Ormerod.


Film adaptation[edit]

Film rights were bought by Lou Edelmen Productions in 1970 but no film resulted.[15]


  1. ^ Jinman, Richard (2 April 2003). "Stirring struggle endures to this Day". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  2. ^ McEvoy, Marc (25 March 2015). "One Day of the Year that changed writer Alan Seymour's life". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. ^ "Television for 1962" (PDF). GMH People. May 1962. p. 7.
  4. ^ "Australian Drama on Two Channels". The Age. 26 April 1962. p. 12.
  5. ^ The One Day of the Year at IMDb
  6. ^ "Controversial Play On ATN". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 June 1962. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Ten Times as Likely to See TV Version of Play". The Age. 5 July 1962. p. 8.
  8. ^ "AusStage".
  9. ^ "AusStage".
  10. ^ "Show Business". Sydney Morning Herald. 17 June 1962. p. 84.
  11. ^ "The One Day-On Channel 7". Sydney Morning Herald. 9 July 1962. p. 7.
  12. ^ Televiewer (12 July 1962). "Teletopics". The Age. p. 24.
  13. ^ The bulletin, John Haynes and J.F. Archibald, 1880, retrieved 23 March 2019
  14. ^ Logie Awards History
  15. ^ Martin, Betty (4 March 1970). "Loren, Mastroianni to Star". Los Angeles Times. p. g12.

External links[edit]