This drama-documentary was first broadcast on BBC2 at 9.30pm on Sunday 23rd September 1984 and assumed an all-out nuclear exchange between East and West of 3,000 megatons. Britain's share -if that is the right word - would be 210 megatons.
The Radio Times went on to say... "The argument that nuclear weapons, horrific as they are, can be used in a limited way assumes that the first weapon, at least, is fired at an obviously tactical target, fired with limited military purpose and a specific political purpose in mind. Thus, faced with an overwhelming Warsaw Pact conventional attack in Western Europe, NATO might fire a single nuclear weapon at a Warsaw pact concentration of armour.
The Warsaw Pact's response would - though they deny nuclear weapons could be used in such a way - in practice also be as much a political explosion as a military one. It would be large enough to show that their will, too, was not to be cowed, and directed at an appropriately higher military target. If neither side literally got the message, then uncontrollable escalation would in due course occur.
More likely - in this view - the sheer trauma of the first military nuclear explosions in 40 years would galvanise the world's political system into action to head off the ultimate horror of the nuclear winter. But such a scheme of events assumes time between exchanges, clear communications and rational calculation on both sides.
The criticism of such a scenario is that it is unrealistic and based on false assumptions. Communications will not be good; they will have been partially or totally destroyed by the very first nuclear air burst, fired for precisely that purpose. The mood will not be calm and rational but intensely irrational; it will not be the time for calculation but for demonstration of power and the attempt to gain a psychological advantage. In such circumstances, a slight appearance of being mad may awe the opponent far more effectively than a gentlemanly game of nuclear chess.
For if both sides behave as if they have a common interest in crisis management then they will never have reached the nuclear brink in the first place. It is far more likely that, having done so, the side on the receiving end of the first nuclear weapon will not stop to ask if it Is a single shot or the first of a series; if it is really only an isolated attack or a weapon with a political tip to its warhead. Instead it will act on the assumption that with the nuclear threshold crossed, the side that's quickest on the draw stands the greater chance of success.
But what is success in a nuclear winter? One nuclear weapon means all nuclear weapons; such is the realistic, or pessimistic, argument. And where does deterrence stand in such an out-turn of events? Some would say that, with the new understanding of the longer-term effects of a massive nuclear exchange, even the contemplated use of nuclear weapons as instruments of defence becomes a ludicrous contradiction in terms. Others will argue that deterrence already existed in the concept of MAD-Mutual Assured Destruction. The nuclear winter adds a grisly extra dimension to what we already knew.
Written by Barry Hines, and starring Karen Measlier as Ruth Beckett and Reece Dinsdale as Jimmy Kemp. It's a normal Thursday in Sheffield. Ruth and Jimmy, are both in the pub, and to them the Middle East crisis is just an item on the evening news - 3,000 miles away. Based on facts available at the time, this drama let the story of a nuclear strike on Britain unfold through the Kepms and Becketts, two Sheffield families, and their designated wartime Controller, the city's peacetime Chief Executive, Clive Sutton. It traces the events of the four weeks that lead up to a nuclear war, and the decade that follows. What will life be like for the survivors? In the days, months and years to come can the fabric of society hold together: how strong are the threads?
This though provoking and powerful drama-documentary formed only part of the weeks viewing, with Newsnight Nuclear Debate following directly afterwards, and the following day a documentary on what would be the most likely result of a nuclear strike to the planet and the following years. I can certainly say that it didn't stop there either as whilst I was at school, the English department set a whole terms study around books written about nuclear holocaust and got us to do various things, designing a nuclear bunker being one of them. I wondered at the time why we should have to read something so grim and then spend the next couple of months writing and talking about mutations, death, and nuclear winters, but it became clear after the broadcast a year or so ago of Threads on BBC4.
2|entertain now provide everyone with the chance to catch Threads having released it on DVD for the first time. It is a barebones release with no extras apart from the standard scene selection, and priced at £15.99.
Mrs Beckett.......June Broughton
Mr Beckett.............Henry Moxon
Granny Beckett.... Sylvia Stoker
Mr Kemp..............David Brierley
Mrs Kemp......................Rita May
Michael Kemp.....Nicholas Lane
Alison Kemp....Jane Hazlegrove
Clive Sutton............Harry Beety
Marjoric Sutton......Ruth Holden
Chief Supt Hirst…..Michael O'Hagan
Medical officer.............Phil Rose
Information officer…..Steve Halliwell
Transport officer….Peter Faulkner
Food officer.......Anthony Collin
Accommodation officer…Brian Grelliss
Scientific adviser ....Michael Ely
Manpower officer ….Sharon Bayliss
Works officer............David Stutt
Mr Stothard.............Phil Askham
Mrs Stothard.....Anna Seymour
Carol Stothard..........Fiona Rook
Peace speaker.....Maggie Holmes
Trade unionist..............Mike kay
Street trader...........John Livesey
Mr Langley................Joe Holmes
Mr Haslam................Joe Belcher
Woman in supermarket…Christine Buckley
Boy in supermarket …David Major
Old man in graveyard …Nat Jackley
Woman in hospital…Greta Dunn
Policemen …Ted Beyer, Dean Williamson
Soldiers…Graham Hill, Nigel Collins
Looters…Jerry Ready, Dennis Conlon
Newscasters…Lesley Judd, Colin Ward-Lewis
Narration by Paul Vaughan Designer Chris Robilliard
Photography: Andrew Dunn
Film editor: Jim Latham
Associate producer: Peter Wolfes
Executive producers: Graham Massey, John Purdie
Produced and directed by Mike Jackson