Dinner at The Sporting Club

Play for Today
Brian Gibson | 1978 | ★★★★
In this haunting BBC drama, written by Leon Griffiths, an ever hopeful but quietly pragmatic boxing manager spends a night at The Sporting Club, splitting his time between hobnobbing with generally vile businessmen (in the hopes of acquiring sponsorship) and getting his loveable loser of a fighter ready for his hastily arranged bout. Part social satire, part political allegory, part melancholy character study, it is a work rich in subtext and humanity. John Thaw proves outstanding in the central role, giving a beautifully nuanced performance. Whilst Billy McColl also does well as the vaguely tragic figure of the working-class Glaswegian boxer, whose dreams of success evaporate in a pool of blood. And Liam Neeson, popping up in a small early role as a giant, cocky Irish boxer, also proves amusing.