The Bed Sitting Room (1969)

This nightmarishly surreal, quintessentially British comedy about everyday life after a ‘nuclear misunderstanding’ was shelved by its bemused backers for over a year.

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“Absurd but by no means empty of meaning: it packs a satirical punch which becomes overt towards the end...Lester leaves no doubt that the ‘optimistic’ ending is equivocal in the extreme.”
Russell Campbell, Monthly Film Bulletin, April 1970

After the successes of his Beatles films, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965), director Richard Lester was given a degree of free reign by United Artists, and was able to use Spike Milligan’s one-man show as the basis of this sharply satirical end-of the-world comedy starring a Who’s Who of British acting talent.

In a vividly-realised post-apocalyptic London, Mrs Ethel Shroake is crowned Queen, and Lord Fortnum awaits his imminent transformation into a bed sitting room. Meanwhile, seventeen-months pregnant Penelope and her parents leave the safety of their underground carriage to find her a husband, and finally reclaim their baggage.

Part Goons, part Samuel Beckett, The Bed Sitting Room’s acerbic wit and bleak outlook confused audiences and led to it falling out of circulation for decades.

The aftermath of the Apocalypse has been explored many times on screen across a variety of genres, including Mad Max (1979), 28 Days Later (2002) and Children of Men (2006).

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