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BBC to issue writer Alan Bleasdale's first TV work from 1975

Published 21/07/2016

The BBC is releasing Alan Bleasdale's first work for TV, Early To Bed, from 1975
The BBC is releasing Alan Bleasdale's first work for TV, Early To Bed, from 1975
Alison Steadman starred in Alan Bleasdale's Early To Bed, his first TV work which is being released by the BBC

Alan Bleasdale's Early To Bed, his first television work which has rarely been seen since 1975, is to be released by the BBC.

Early To Bed starred Alison Steadman before she went on to the likes of Abigail's Party, Nuts In May, The Singing Detective, Gavin & Stacey and the 1995 version of Pride And Prejudice.

Acclaimed writer Bleasdale, who turned 70 earlier this year, is being celebrated in the Alan Bleasdale At The BBC Collection available from July 21.

The Muscle Market starring the late Pete Postlethwaite is also released for the first time since its 1981 broadcast.

Alongside some of Bleasdale's archetypal work, these two plays are exclusive to BBC Store, the corporation's digital download service.

In Early To Bed, Steadman plays Helen - a married woman who starts an affair with her 18-year-old neighbour Vinnie (played by EastEnders actor David Warwick).

The 30-minute single drama was first broadcast on BBC Two in March 1975 as part of the Second City Firsts strand for writers who were new to television.

Bleasdale, who was a school teacher in his native Liverpool at the time, said it took four days to write.

"There's no history of art in my family," he told the Radio Times in 1975.

"My dad, well, he's just a bloke. A labourer, foreman in an oil refinery.

"Mum was a shop assistant so you can see that writing's not the kind of thing I'd normally have done."

He added: "At least I'm not working to preconceived ideas - I just work things out as I go along. I write very fast. The play took four days."

The Muscle Market is a feature-length comedy drama with Postlethwaite as the crooked owner of a building business who is driven to desperate measures.

Renowned for his social commentary and realistic portrayals of working class life, the Bleasdale collection also includes 1980 g round-breaking single play The Blackstuff and its spin-off series Boys From The Blackstuff.

A searing portrayal of unemployment in Thatcher's Britain, 1982's Boys From The Blackstuff captured the imagination of the viewing public.

It became famous for troubled character Yosser Hughes (The Lord Of The Rings' Bernard Hill) and his "Gissa job" catchphrase.

Also featured in the collection is The Monocled Mutineer.

The controversial 1986 drama, starring Doctor Who actor Paul McGann, centres around a mutiny during World War One.

:: Visit for more about the Alan Bleasdale At The BBC Collection.

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