The Play on One (1988–1991)
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Story of Jack and his farming family in West Wales. They have built up their dairy herd with vast loans and are then told they must cut back on milk production and slaughter some of the ... See full summary »


Kevin Billington


Steve Gough


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... Jack
Lynn Farleigh ... Rachel
Glyn Houston ... Old Jack
Mark Lewis Jones ... Ieuan
Martin Glyn Murray Martin Glyn Murray ... Glyn
Hugh Fraser ... Saunders
Paul Humpoletz Paul Humpoletz ... Grosz
Jane Horrocks ... Pam
Gemma Heritage Gemma Heritage ... Cathy
Mike Hayward Mike Hayward ... Yori
Hubert Rees Hubert Rees ... Bank manager
David Quilter David Quilter ... Minister
Geoffrey Evans Geoffrey Evans ... Detective
Bill Bellamy ... Antique dealer
Gareth Morris Gareth Morris ... Joe


Story of Jack and his farming family in West Wales. They have built up their dairy herd with vast loans and are then told they must cut back on milk production and slaughter some of the herd. The community launches a campaign against the quotas, but Jack takes the law into his own hands. Written by BFI

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Release Date:

21 February 1989 (UK) See more »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

You don't trifle with an honest farmer like Anthony Hopkins.
2 October 2017 | by clanciaiSee all my reviews

A milk cow farmer in Wales is ruined by the regulations from Brussels. The father and his two sons react in different ways. The sons go into demonstrations, while the father, when he is visited by two EU bureaucrats, tries his own way of convincing them of the facts of his position. Of course, they fail to understand each other.

It's almost documentary in character, closely following the family on the risky road of progress, as the sons insist on modernization, while the father predicts it will be the ruin of them all. The mother is more sympathetic and tries to appease all hard feelings and possible elements of conflict.

At the same time it is highly dramatic, as the film starts in the end and shows how Anthony Hopkins is taken by the police, and in the course of the film you follow step by step how his fury is building up and you just wait for the blast, which ultimately takes very unusual turns.

The Welsh landscape is beautiful, and you can well understand how the Welsh farmer must love his land. The cows also play an important part, he is listening to his cows and teaches his granddaughter to learn about them too, and the scenes between the aging farmer and the child are perhaps the most interesting and adorable.

Anthony Hopkins makes an unforgettable performance, almost as usual, the farmer is not very bright or intelligent, unlike his sons, but is the more personal and extremely idiosyncratic - you can never guess what he will do next, and Anthony Hopkins is expert at such totally unpredictable characters.

All actors are perfectly convincing and natural, 'organic' as Polanski would have described it, and it's a very thought-provoking account at the same time as it is infinitely sad and melancholy. Hopkins' conversations with his dead father and his flashback memories add to the extreme humanity of this documentation. He never uses his gun, but his words cut the deeper and the sharper for their tremendous truth of an injustice to gross and deep to be able to be rectified.

When he is offered money for the loss of his cows and his farm: "How about our pain? Our heartbreak and despair? How much is that worth? Then there is the past, the memories. How much are they worth? Our history, our mothers and fathers, all gone, all lost! Can you work it out? Have you got the scales? Can you get it into figures?" The bureaucrat: "I am sorry, Mr. Philips, I can't quite follow."

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