"This used to be a town, now they call it a development..."
Tom (Keith Barron) is a former tool maker now trying to make a living as a minicab driver. He is married to Liz (Annette Crosbie) who also has a new job, working in the canteen at InfoCo. Unlike Martin and Kathy, they live in a traditional 50's built semi in the old part of town and have a grown up daughter who has flown the nest to start her own family. Liz has taken to her new role like a duck to water, enjoying the social interaction with the newcomers (even though it is mostly one way on her part - the yuppie workers, including Martin, are all too arrogant to talk to the likes of her) and the camaraderie of her co-workers who are all female and of a similar age. In contrast, Tom is struggling as a minicab driver; he doesn't know the new estates and new roads and he is concerned by the technological encroachment he sees upon traditional industry, having left his 'job for life' when his duties required him to start using computers. He works most evenings, driving around listening to his Dusty Springfield tape and picking up fares, faced with the irony of trying to get to know the town he has spent his life in. It is one such evening that he picks up the distressed Kathy, who stops his cab and tearfully asks him to "Take me home".
Tom's initially fatherly concern for bank worker Kathy soon changes to mild contempt when she tells him she has recently had an abortion at Martin's request and when he has to pick her and a worse-for-wear Martin up from a staff party. He tells Liz that this new couple are trouble, confirming his quiet suspicions that the new town and all its changes aren't necessarily for good. However, Kathy confiding in him about her marriage and her unhappiness leads to them meeting secretly, behind their respective partners' backs and, despite the significant age-gap and social differences, a a mutual attraction starts to develop which turns to an obsessive, passionate affair.
What I really like about Take Me Home is that Marchant approaches the tidal change of '80s Britain through his central characters. Tom represents the skilled labour being left behind and cast on the scrapheap by Thatcher's government and technological advances, whilst Kathy represents those changes. They are both completely different: she is upwardly mobile, he is stagnating, she represents city living, he is small town, she is new and he is old, and their age-gap of course plays into that, along with their musical tastes - he loves Dusty, she prefers Deacon Blue (their song The Very Thing is the show's theme tune) and the pair exchange tapes. But at the same time they are both kindred spirits in that neither of them can adjust to the world around them and they each feel dissatisfied by it. Their affair points towards the breaking down of barriers, an ill fated attempt for the old world to meet the social and economic encroachments upon it, and this metaphor is also used elsewhere with Take Me Home's secondary characters; Liz's co-worker at the canteen is having an affair with their young manager and her husband, a fellow cabbie and friend of Tom's, is oblivious.
Beautifully written by Marchant, Take Me Home is directed with great skill by Jane Howell, a female director who cut her teeth on single dramas such as the BBC's Play For Today, Screenplay and Screen Two dating back to the mid '70s. Female directors were sadly all too rare in house during this period, but I'm grateful that it was a female director who got to helm Marchant's script - unlike many adultery orientated dramas, Take Me Home does not indulge in the kind of steamy, nude encounters that I imagine a male director would push for. Sex scenes do occur, but they're kept brief. For Howell and Marchant its the dialogue that matters, and they treat their audiences as mature and intelligent people. At a time when we're still hearing about many (male) directors, writers and producers opting for needless, gratuitous nudity, it's refreshing to see that something from twenty-nine years earlier was ahead of the curve and rather more effective to boot.
Take Me Home is a vital document on Thatcher's Britain and a bloody good story well told. I think it is the late Keith Barron's finest performance, and all the cast deliver the goods.