Play for Today (1970–1984)
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Joe's Ark 

The religious beliefs of pet shop owner Joe (Freddie Jones) are shaken by the terminal illness of his daughter Lucy (Angharad Rees). For Potter, this play "makes more than a wry nod at ... See full summary »


Alan Bridges


Dennis Potter


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Episode complete credited cast:
Freddie Jones ... Joe Jones
Angharad Rees ... Lucy Jones
Dennis Waterman ... Bobby Jones
Christopher Guard Christopher Guard ... John
Edward Evans ... Preacher - Daniel Watkins
Patricia Franklin Patricia Franklin ... Sally
Clive Graham Clive Graham ... Doctor
Emrys Leyshon Emrys Leyshon ... Man Customer
Margaret John ... Woman Customer
Colin Rix Colin Rix ... Chef
Azad Ali Azad Ali ... Waiter


The religious beliefs of pet shop owner Joe (Freddie Jones) are shaken by the terminal illness of his daughter Lucy (Angharad Rees). For Potter, this play "makes more than a wry nod at possibilities which can comprehend pain, or disgust, or the implacable presence of death itself." Written by Bhob Stewart <>

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Comedy | Drama







Release Date:

14 February 1974 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

22 August 2005 | by ian_harrisSee all my reviews

Several of Potter's recurring themes are explored here. Terminal illness. Christian religion challenged in the face of suffering. Austere communities on the Welsh borders. Oxbridge youngsters thrown together (by birth or circumstance) with more simple people. Family rifts. Rain. Biblical metaphor (in this case both Noah's Ark overtly and the Book of Job covertly, in case you hadn't guessed).

The themes are well explored and there are several moving moments. After Joe throws the preacher out of his house, almost cursing belief itself, he then prays to Jesus and asks Jesus to take him (Joe) rather than his daughter. When the girl dies, Joe recites the Lord's Prayer in Welsh. The tacky comedian brother, Bobby, asks his girlfriend to marry him as they speed along the road to try to get to his sister's bedside in time. The short scene between father and son has barely a word but is beautifully done.

Not all of it works so well. It is slow in parts. Deliverately so. The scene where Bobby finds out about his sister and then verbally attacks the Asian worker sweeping up around him in a café, is terribly stilted (Waterman weak at showing anger and despair back then). And didn't Poliakoff more or less repeat that scene to greater effect in one of his late 70's classics?

Is this the best of Potter? No. But it is well worth a look and is a moving piece.

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