The Afternoon Play

The Afternoon Play is a British television anthology series, which consists of standalone contemporary dramas first shown during the daytime on BBC One. The first episode, entitled "Turkish Delight", aired on 27 January 2003. Since, a total of twenty-five episodes have been broadcast across five series.[1] The last episode was broadcast on 26 January 2007. The series was nominated for a BAFTA award in 2005 for Best New Director for an episode directed by the actress Sarah Lancashire. As of 2009, the series has been replaced in the schedules by fellow anthology series Moving On, which follows a very similar format.

The Afternoon Play
Written byVarious
ComposersRoss Power
Chris James Ryan
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series5
No. of episodes25
Executive producersWill Trotter
Serena Cullen
Mal Young
ProducersSam Hill
Carson Black
Ben Bickerton
Production locationVarious
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time45 minutes
Production companyBBC Birmingham
Original networkBBC One
Picture format16:9
Original release27 January 2003 (2003-01-27) –
26 January 2007 (2007-01-26)
Related showsMoving On (2009–present)
External links


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 27 January 2003 31 January 2003 5
2 26 January 2004 30 January 2004 5
3 24 January 2005 28 January 2005 5
4 16 January 2006 20 January 2006 5
5 22 January 2007 26 January 2007 5


Series 1 (2003)Edit

Episode Title Director Writer Original airdate
1 "Turkish Delight"Adrian BeanRowan Joffe27 January 2003 (2003-01-27)
A bored housewife finds glamour and excitement when she starts a job belly-dancing in a Turkish restaurant.
Starring Denise Welch, Tim Dantay, Glynis Barber and Rae Baker
2 "Coming Up for Air"Dominic KeaveyMatthew Parkhill28 January 2003 (2003-01-28)
An overworked, unhappy widower who suffers from stress ends up with shock-related amnesia when he takes a holiday in Spain. With the help of a woman he meets out there, he then has to rediscover his old identity, meeting family and colleagues as if for the first time.
Starring Jeremy Sheffield, June Whitfield and Bhasker Patel
3 "The Real Arnie Griffin"Nigel HaversJeff Povey29 January 2003 (2003-01-29)
An undercover store detective, who prides himself on his disguises but longs to solve real crimes, seizes a chance to impress both his estranged wife and investigate a hit-and-run.
Starring Ray Burdis, Lucy Davis, Ralph Ineson and Lucy Benjamin
4 "Heroes and Villains"Terry IlandLesley Claire O'Neill30 January 2003 (2003-01-30)
On a deprived housing estate, down-and-out Jonny steals some dodgy leather jackets that turn out to have drugs in them. When his girlfriend Marlene sells them on to the locals, she receives a tip-off about their contents and realises they must be retrieved.
Starring Tracie Bennett, Lisa Riley, Jonathan Linsley and Sarah Ozeke
5 "The Girls Weekend"Ray KilbyJane English31 January 2003 (2003-01-31)
Four old friends take a hen weekend by the sea, where the bride-to-be discovers that the others have all slept with her fiancé. The fiancé, meanwhile, realising something is wrong, abandons his stag weekend to go and find her.
Starring Daniela Denby-Ashe, Sarah Manners, Cat Simmons, Jeremy Edwards and Oliver James

Series 2 (2004)Edit

Episode Title Director Writer Original airdate
1 "Venus and Mars"Nick JonesJohanna Baldwin26 January 2004 (2004-01-26)
Best friends Oliver and Grace begin to ponder why they have never taken their relationship further. After a passionate weekend in the country, they attempt to go back to their normal lives, but Oliver's new fiancé has her own agenda - and it's not long before both Oliver and Grace are forced to make life-changing decisions.
Starring Robson Green, Tina Hobley, Patrick Baladi and Helen Latham
2 "Sons, Daughters and Lovers"Matthew ParkhillMatthew Parkhill27 January 2004 (2004-01-27)
Divorcee Hardy Rose finds new love with high-flyer Kate, whilst his son, Ben, falls head over heels for an older woman, Anna. But when Anna is revealed as Kate's mother, father and son realise that they have fallen for the wrong partner.
Starring Michael French, Liam Garrigan, Antonia Bernath and Samuel Anderson
3 "Drive"John GreeningPete Lawson28 January 2004 (2004-01-28)
Julie, a 29-year-old temp with a steady boyfriend, finds her life is going nowhere, but when she gets a contract at Sunshine Cars, she gets a new lease of life. Suddenly, Julie is forced to compete with the men, making changes to impress her boss. But will she have to compromise to reach the top?
Starring Kaye Wragg, Jonathan Kerrigan, Jamie Theakston, Jean Alexander, Shaun Prendergast, Quentin Willson and Chris Bisson
4 "Viva Las Blackpool"Sarah LancashireDamian Fitzsimmons29 January 2004 (2004-01-29)
Divorcee Kathy is not taking being separated too well, but her situation is further complicated by her ex-husband's new wife trying to bed her best friend's son, and her teenage daughter becoming increasingly difficult to handle.
Starring Paula Wilcox, Denise Black, Noreen Kershaw, Clive Mantle, John McArdle, Jim Bowen and Alexis Conran
5 "Glasgow Dreams"Christopher TimothyShan Khan30 January 2004 (2004-01-30)
Yasmeela and her father, Arob, who live on an isolated, rough Glaswegian council estate, find themselves being avoided and ridiculed on a daily basis - until an unexpected encounter with their enigmatic young neighbour, Dino, whose humour and optimism brings both romance and ambition into their lives.
Starring Edith Bowman, Kulvinder Ghir, Clare Grogan and Tim Matthews

Series 3 (2005)Edit

Episode Title Director Writer Original airdate
1 "The Hitch"Neil AdamsMartin Sadofski24 January 2005 (2005-01-24)
Two couples who find out that their ten-year marriages were not legal as the priest was a fake reflect on their lives while preparing for a new ceremony.
Starring Samantha Womack, Jason Merrells, Nicola Stephenson and Neil Stuke
2 "The Trouble with George"Matthew ParkhillMatthew Parkhill25 January 2005 (2005-01-25)
A woman finds that marriage to her sweet-but-dull husband is becoming intolerable, but as her friendship blooms with a female neighbour, they soon find themselves planning ways to do away with him, collect the life insurance and live together unhindered.
Starring Reece Dinsdale, Lisa Faulkner, Siobhan Redmond and David Burke
3 "The Good Citizen"James StrongEd McCardie26 January 2005 (2005-01-26)
A man walks into a rural police station and announces he is seceding from Britain and starting his own republic. As he is hounded by the press, threatened by the government and exposed by his fame-seeking ex-wife, he struggles to retain the rural simplicity he thought would solve all his problems, while his growing relationship with a tabloid journalist only complicates his life further.
Starring Hugh Quarshie, Claire Goose, Tony Haygarth, Paul Atkins and Claire King
4 "Reverse Psychology"Ian BarnesHarwart Baines27 January 2005 (2005-01-27)
Sonia, a very successful sexual health doctor, is unhappy about her parents interference in her day-to-day life, and decides to speak out. But her father is anything less than happy about that, and tries everything to correct her life and hook her up with a man.
Starring Koel Purie, Joe McFadden and Robert Mountford
5 "The Singing Cactus"Steve KellyDamian Fitzsimmons28 January 2005 (2005-01-28)
14-year-old John Reilly, a schoolboy who is suffering from his father's death, finds escape in his own world with an imaginary "singing cactus", native American mysticism, Morris dancers and an ominous wolf.
Starring Peter Capaldi, Geff Francis, Melanie Hill and Ray Quinn

Series 4 (2006)Edit

Episode Title Director Writer Original airdate
1 "Tea with Betty"John GreeningPaul Smith16 January 2006 (2006-01-16)
Single mum Wendy, who is bringing up a son with Asperger's syndrome and dealing with a challenging ex-husband, faces a constant struggle as she tries to encourage the residents of the housing estate where she lives to maintain some respect for their surroundings. On the 10th anniversary of the riots that nearly destroyed their home, the Queen decides to visit the estate and meet Wendy in her own home, throwing the other residents into a rare show of community spirit.
Starring Kieran O'Brien, Rosemary Leach and Angela Lonsdale
2 "The Last Will and Testament of Billy Two Sheds"Pip BroughtonAlan Plater17 January 2006 (2006-01-17)
Sam, an overworked young student, inherits her grandfather's allotment and finds herself taking on his ghost into the bargain. She finds herself strangely drawn to this peaceful new world, until the allotments come under threat. Sam and the allotment committee fight to save their world as they know it.
Starring James Bolam, Jodie Whittaker, Tom Chambers and Paul Copley
3 "Your Mother Should Know"Ian BarberMartin Sadofski18 January 2006 (2006-01-18)
A battle of wills between Edith, a steely little old lady, and her new daughter-in-law, Jessica, ensues when hapless hunk Gary arrives on the scene. As Jessica's perfect relationship disintegrates at the hands of a seemingly helpless old woman, the courts intervene, and events take a turn for the worse.
Starring Sheila Reid, Noah Huntley, Colin Baker and Tony Barton
4 "Are You Jim's Wife?"Neil AdamsJames Payne19 January 2006 (2006-01-19)
Rachel is devastated when husband Matt insists they divorce and sell the cafe they ran together. Determined to avoid the inevitable, Rachel throws herself into helping elderly employee Charlie fulfil a promise - to deliver a message of love to the long-lost wife of a friend who died in his arms in World War 2. During the race to find Jim's wife, Rachel finally finds the courage to put the past behind her.
Starring Joe Sims, Ruth Gemmell, Roy Dotrice, Jonathan Wrather and David Sterne
5 "Molly"Terry IlandEd McCardie20 January 2006 (2006-01-20)
To the frustration of her snobbish mother, Molly's never happier than when she's spending time with loser boyfriend Johnny, or tinkering with an engine. But when Molly discovers a self-sustaining, emission free, inexhaustible fuel, she grabs the opportunity to fulfil her dream of helping others, unintentionally leaving Johnny behind. Innocent, optimistic Molly finds herself in the lion's den of the oil industry as she contends with some dodgy characters, but will she succeed in her dream?
Starring Georgia Taylor, Ian Mercer, Richard O'Callaghan and Stephen Rahman-Hughes

Series 5 (2007)Edit

Episode Title Director Writer Original airdate
1 "Johnny Shakespeare"Jim CartwrightJim Cartwright22 January 2007 (2007-01-22)
Johnny, a confident, charismatic but illiterate young man, finds that after life on his estate, the only way is down. But when he meets a drama teacher, he finds the world opening up in a way he'd never dreamt of.
Starring Bobby Ball, Paul Chan, James Cartwright and Matt Kennard
2 "Death Becomes Him"John GreeningPaul Smith23 January 2007 (2007-01-23)
Hospital patient Frank lies silently in a coma as his family gather around him, preparing for the inevitable, until a maverick doctor decides that Frank will be his latest experiment - and that he isn't going to give up without a fight.
Starring Brian Capron, Kim Medcalf, Aidan McArdle and Paul Thornley
3 "Come Fly With Me"Ian BarberMartin Sadofski24 January 2007 (2007-01-24)
After being dumped at the altar by text, bride Kate advertises for a man to go with her on her fully booked, all expenses paid dream honeymoon. But will anyone have the confidence to accept her offer? Or will candidates be champing at the bit?
Starring Hannah Waterman, Jack Deam, Oliver Milburn and Julian Bleach
4 "Pieces of a Silver Lining"Steve KellyMartin Jameson25 January 2007 (2007-01-25)
Retired vicar Geoffrey takes a stand on his council tax and gets sent to prison for his trouble. Trapped in a cell with a lifer proves to be both a terrifying and life changing experience, but Geoffrey retract on his principles?
Starring Jimmy Yuill, Elizabeth Bennett, Trevor Byfield and Andrew Tiernan
5 "The Real Deal"Ian BarnesSusan Wilkins26 January 2007 (2007-01-26)
Smart and cynical solicitor Clare thinks the only place she deals with matters of the heart is at work - in the divorce court. But when she meets Tom, her whole life turns upside down. Is Clare right in thinking she has met 'The One'?
Starring James Lance, Nikki Sanderson, Alex Macqueen, Nitin Ganatra and Simon Dutton

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 January 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit