Seeing in the Dark

Seeing in the Dark came at a time when the BBC commissioned experimental studio plays from adventurous writers like Alan Drury, here interrogating the human psyche with a dramatised stream of consciousness delivered in part by interior monologue.

Produced by George Faber and shot entirely in studio, its interiors conveyed the claustrophobia and vulnerability of a London basement flat, complete with the damp stairwell outside. The piece plays on a fear of invasion and the terror of blindness in a creative writer dependent on his eyes for his precarious living, in a 1980’s consumerised society where graduate friends are riding the yuppie gravy train.

Ilona Sekacz composed the disturbing musique concrète, complemented by a whisper track of inner confusion.  Led by the young David Threlfall, already a star, the cast also featured Sylvestra Le Touzel as his long-suffering girlfriend, while Maurice Denham, fresh from Jones’s recent Trial of Klaus Barbie, delivered the terrifying demiurge Mr Letchworth with steely unapology.

Seeing in the Dark was previewed at the Cannes FIPA of 1989, where it was met with polite bafflement, probably due to its remorseless pessimism and hermetic tone. This was not TV as anyone knew it. The wave of disapproval led to Jones quitting his then agent and de facto the BBC.  It was, though, the production on which Jones and Howe first met.  The rest is history.

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