BBC Play of the Month (1965–1983)
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A brilliant fellow, Platonov, and he might be a good husband, too - if only women would let him.


Anton Chekhov (play), John Elliot (adaptation)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Rex Harrison ... Mikhail Platonov, schoolmaster
Patsy Byrne Patsy Byrne ... Sasha, Platonov's wife
Siân Phillips ... Anna Voinitseva, widow
Clive Revill ... Nicolai Triletski, Sasha's brother
Donald Eccles ... Count Glagolyev, Anna's suitor
Geoffrey Bayldon ... Sergei Voinitsev, Anna's stepson
Willoughby Goddard ... Bugrov, merchant
Trevor Kent Trevor Kent ... Yakov, servant
Stacey Tendeter Stacey Tendeter ... Katya, maid
John Gill John Gill ... Col. Triletski, Sasha's father
Kevin Stoney ... Vengerovich
Joanna Dunham Joanna Dunham ... Sofia, Voinitsev's wife
Bridget Armstrong ... Maria Grekova, chemistry student
Neil McCarthy ... Osip, bandit
Peter Eyre ... Kiril, Glagolyev's son


What do women want? Any man? Platonov was a distinguished academic, now a village schoolteacher married to the simple but cheerful and loving Sasha. Platonov is a witty if temperamental guest, sought after at the dinner parties of Anna, a general's widow, who lives on her estate, deeply in debt, flirting with him. To the season's first dinner, Anna's aged stepson brings his new wife, Sofia, whom Platonov knew when he was a professor. She's still in his thrall and he presses his suit. He also behaves badly at the party toward Maria Grekova, a young single woman. By the night's end, he has stirred up enough passion to overwhelm the neighborhood. Will anyone take any action, or will it be all talk? Written by <>

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Release Date:

23 May 1971 (UK) See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Version of An Unfinished Piece for Mechanical Piano (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

A lot of fun, impressively done
1 May 2014 | by runamokprodsSee all my reviews

A BBC Play of the Month. A good example of Chekhov's cheerful skewering of the upper and bourgeois classes with wit, edge and humor. Very impressive for a first full length play (although I've read this two hour version is edited way down from a script almost 3 times as long – which would have been quite hard to take).

Rex Harrison plays Platonov, an intellectual, teacher and sharp tongued ex-soldier who seems to have women throwing themselves at him left and right. Harrison is excellent and great fun, but arguably a bit long in the tooth for Platonov – he was 63 when this was made. But he makes it work with his warm, perversely fatherly charm.

The whole cast is strong, crucial to any Chekhov play working. Patsy Byrne is wonderful as Platonov's unsophisticated wife who manages not to see her husband for the cad he is, until it's too late. Sian Phillips is terrific as Anna, a sort of proto-feminist who desires Platonov, but only on her own terms.

In the end, it's a comedy (with a touch of tragedy) about how hypocritical we can be when it comes to matters of our heart (and loins). You can clearly see Chekhov's influence on, for example, some of Woody Allen's comedies. The production is fairly rudimentary technically, not pretending to be more than a filmed play, but that doesn't stop it from being highly enjoyable.

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