We live in scary and unsettling times. Along with the usual suspects of power crazy dictators in charge of small nations around the world, we appear to have egotistical maniacs running both Russia and America. It’s not exactly the first time we’ve been in this kind of position, but it doesn’t make it any less worrying. The situation in Syria, with the two superpowers using the civil war for their own political gains, brings to mind Iran at the beginning of the 1980s. This is the starting point for Threads. Written by Barry Hines and directed by Mick Jackson, it’s a film which fairly traumatised me as a child.
Ruth (Karen Meagher) and Jimmy (Reece Dinsdale) are a young couple living in Sheffield. When they find out they’re expecting a child, they begin looking for a place to live. As this is happening, the tensions between the USSR and the US over Iran are escalating. After a skirmish which ends in the Soviet Union using tactical nuclear weapons, Britain is gripped by fear, which leads to rioting and looting. The Emergency Power Act is passed, devolving authority to local centres. When the air raid sirens erupt into action, there’s panic on the streets of Sheffield.
I was born in Sheffield and first saw Threads at school. At the time is traumatised me. The new remastered version, if anything, makes it feel more real. It cleans up all the imperfections whilst still giving it feel of an archive newsreel. It’s a gruelling and harrowing experience, but one which feels far too close to present reality for comfort. Threads succeeds because it feels possible. Threads tells the story of normal everyday people struggling to survive a major catastrophe. That is what gives it so much power.
- UK 2k Remaster from BBC CRI prints
- DVD Audio Commentary with Karen Meagher (UK Exclusive)
- DVD Audio Commentary with Mick Jackson
- PDF of Radio Times articles and letters (UK Exclusive)
- Documentary: Shooting the Annihilation
- Documentary: Auditioning for the Apocalypse
- Documentary: Destruction Designer
- Documentary: Stephen Thrower on Threads
Threads is released on DVD by Simply Media on 9th April.