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Stand by Your Screen was made for London Weekend Television because, after Thief, Clarke’s previous ITV play (and the last regular Half Hour Story), LWT and Thames became the new franchise holders in the London region. One of six self-contained plays in the strand Company of Five, in which John Neville led a repertory company of actors (Alun Owen wrote Clarke’s other contribution, Gareth), Stand by Your Screen is one of Minton’s most wittily provocative scripts. Neville plays Christopher Gritter, who refuses to participate in the ‘big, bad world’, and lives behind screens in his parents’ living room.
Citing this extra-textual social motivation – the single play’s ‘life-after-television ethic’ – Andrew Clifford (1991) argued that in To Encourage the Others ‘Clarke concentrated on the more material components of the drama: script, actors, plot’. Secondly, To Encourage the Others was shot not on film but on videotape in a television studio, employing a multi-camera set-up. These conditions of production suggest restrictions upon Clarke’s technique. Apart from its filmed opening sequence and a flashback, over ninety minutes of videotaped material was shot over just three days.
Clarke’s use of angles lends unease as well as visual panache to a play whose ‘kitchen sink’ iconography may have led other directors to approach it in a more dour style. Clarke’s bold foregrounding of objects such as the tap and a kettle coming to the boil resembles some of Joseph Losey’s compositions, and its distanciating effects recall the strategies of Douglas Sirk. The familiar is thereby defamiliarised, from the very first shot, a disorienting close-up of a turning doorknob shot from an unusual angle.