The Ploughman's Lunch script
Synopsis: Journalist James Penfield (Jonathan Pryce) starts working on a book about the 1956 Suez Crisis while he also begins pursuing TV reporter Susan Barrington (Charlie Dore). Unable to attract her attention, James follows his friend Jeremy Hancock's (Tim Curry) suggestion that he befriend Susan's mother, Ann (Rosemary Harris), to get closer to her daughter. As James spends more time with Ann, he realizes he has more in common with the mother than the daughter.



We are IN CLOSE as a story arrives on a press service

teleprinter. A Hand tears away the sheet. The CAMERA

TRACKS as we follow the story. It passes through the

copytaster's hands and it passes on down to the summaries


This is a time of steady activity. Journalists move about

the room to consult. Others are writing in longhand, and

several are dictating copy to typists, who are all women.

One or two people - NEWSREADERS - sit about doing nothing.

Much movement of paper.

Over the sound of typewriters and the murmur of dictating

voices we HEAR a WOMAN'S VOICE over the P.A. Announce,

"The Leader of the Opposition on five". A few journalists

pick up their headsets, but they do not stop writing. We

establish the atmosphere - laconic but efficient, and a

little down-at-heel.

At the summaries desk we find JAMES PENFIELD. He stands

to the side of a little behind a seated secretary, dictating

in a laconic deadpan voice from a sheet of scrawled



Between fifty and sixty scrap metal

workers are..

The phone rings. James snatches it and answers without

breaking stride.


Hello. Newsroom.

The secretary waits, her face totally inexpressive.


Who? Paul Dean? He doesn't work

here anymore.


(calling over his

shoulder as he


Went to IRN.


No. No. Sorry. Try IRN.

He drops the receiver and continues. The secretary



..reported to have landed illegally

on the island of South Georgia in

the South Atlantic.

The Foreign Office reacted sceptically to reports that

Argentine Government was planning..


James and a newsreader (one of those we saw earlier doing

nothing) stand together by the photocopier. Walking with

controlled haste and carrying the news sheets, they head

towards the studio. A clock behind them shows two minutes

to twelve.


James and the newsreader sit at a table in the studio,

fairly close together. The newsreader settles himself

behind the microphone. James sits back, professionally

bored, rolling a stub of a pencil between his fingers.

Through a large loudspeaker we hear a Radio 4 programme

winding up. Theme music.

The newsreader has a plummy authoritative voice and is a

year or two younger than James. He stares down at the

news sheet.

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Ian McEwan

Ian Russell McEwan CBE FRSA FRSL (born 21 June 1948) is an English novelist and screenwriter. In 2008, The Times featured him on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". McEwan began his career writing sparse, Gothic short stories. The Cement Garden (1978) and The Comfort of Strangers (1981) were his first two novels, and earned him the nickname "Ian Macabre". more…

All Ian McEwan scripts | Ian McEwan Books

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"The Ploughman's Lunch" STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 23 Feb. 2018. <'s_lunch_500>.

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