Talking to a Stranger

Has anybody heard of, or even seen, ‘Talking to a stranger’, a BBC drama from 1966? Somebody put several long clips up on youtube, and they’re incredible. Seriously; watch them, then rewatch for all the nuances you missed first time round. I can’t remember ever seeing a psychological drama half as good on television, or even on film or in the theatre.

It centres on ‘Terri’, played by Judi Dency with a rushing stream-of-consciousness performance that gives the complete tour of her mind within a few minutes. There’s something of Sally Bowles in her (Dench performed in Cabaret a couple of years later). Both have the same vulnerable extraversion, fuelled by terror that everything will fall apart if they stop moving. For Terri that’s intertwined with anger, despair, religion, paranoia and guilt. All this rushes out in perfectly-drawn conversations with her brother and flatmate. Terri selfishly oblivious to them, condescending of their quiet lives, almost unable to believe in them as real people — but with envy constantly creeping in just below the surface.

Again, I can’t quite believe how good it is. Watch it! And this is just from a few clips. I’d love to see the entire thing, but it only seems to be available as part of a massive, expensive box-set of the complete works of Judi Dench. Here is one review.

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