A Taste of Honey (1961)

Rita Tushingham delivers a BAFTA-winning performance as a resilient Salford schoolgirl making her way in the world in this classic of 1960s British cinema.

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“Dora Bryan gives an uproarious turn as Jo’s impossible mam, with Robert Stephens as the shabby suitor. Tushingham’s performance and lovely, open face are still a tonic.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 2002

Resilient working-class heroine Jo flees her uncaring single mother and gets pregnant by a black sailor. She seeks solace from another social outsider, a meek gay textile student. A Taste of Honey was adapted by Shelagh Delaney from her first play, written while she was still in her teens.

If the then-daring subject matter suggests an issue-led drama urging moral tolerance, director Tony Richardson’s treatment is more a matter of poetic realism, highlighting sensitive changes of mood and emotion against a backdrop of grimly authentic Salford locations. Social attitudes may have moved on since 1961, but wide-eyed Rita Tushingham’s affecting central performance remains a delight.

A sensation by the age of 21, playwright Shelagh Delaney went on to have a fitful screenwriting career, notable scripts including Charlie Bubbles (1967) and Dance with a Stranger (1985).

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