Jack Rosenthal

Michael Tuchner & Jack Rosenthal – Play for Today: Bar Mitzvah Boy (1976)

Although Jack Rosenthal’s television plays are peppered with Jewish characters and passing references drawn from the writer’s Jewish roots, only three bring the subject centre stage: The Evacuees (BBC, tx. 5/3/1975), Bye, Bye, Baby (Channel 4, tx. 3/11/1992) and Bar Mitzvah Boy.

Unlike The Evacuees, Bar Mitzvah Boy is not autobiographical, and Rosenthal even played down its Jewishness in a Radio Times interview prior to its first broadcast by stressing the universality of its central theme: “When I was young and reading comics there were always men heroes, actually aged about 15, who were playing football for England or winning wars single-handed. I used to think that when I’m a man I’ll be like that, never indecisive or frightened, but there suddenly comes a point of disillusionment when you realise it is a fallacy”. Read More »

John Goldschmidt & Jack Rosenthal – Play for Today: Spend Spend Spend (1977)

Based on the true story of Vivian Nicholson, whose husband Keith won £152,319 on the pools (a sum that would be worth in excess of £2 million today), Spend Spend Spend is a modern morality tale in which two naïve working-class northerners are thrust overnight into a world of hitherto unimaginable wealth, which they prove wholly unable to handle. This is demonstrated from the start when Vivian, suffering from severe stage fright, blurts out during the formal presentation of her winnings that she’s going to “spend spend spend!”, thus creating an impression of selfish hedonism that’s largely at odds with the complex characterisation that Jack Rosenthal goes on to give her. Read More »