• Telling Tales
  • 1978, 90 mins

General Information

  • Company: Yorkshire Arts Association
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Type: 16mm b&w/colour feature
  • Topic: Alternative drama playing with conventions of soap, tearjerker and stage
  • Available as: DVD or other digital format
  • Available from: Yorkshire Film Archive (


  • Director: Richard Woolley
  • Script: Richard Woolley
  • Camera: Russell Murray
  • Lighting: Alf Bower
  • Sound: Moya Burns
  • Dubbing: Keith Hardy (Yorkshire Film)


  • Bridget Ashburn......Sheila Jones
  • James Woolley......Mr Willoughby/Paul Roberts
  • Patricia Donovan......Mrs Willoughby/Ingrid Roberts
  • Stephen Trafford......Bill Jones

TELLING TALES is about the failing marriage of an industrialist and his wife, about the industrialist's wish to sell his company to a colleague, Paul Roberts, and about the terminally ill wife of Paul, Ingrid. It is also about the shop steward organising a strike at Paul's factory that jeopardises the deal with the industrialist, and about the wife of the shop steward, who happens to clean and cook for the industrialist. A network of intertwined tales told in different ways, and for very different motives, by the main protagonists. Drawing on TV traditions of soap and serious drama, the manipulative emotionalism of a Hollywood weepy, the austerity of minimalism and the directness of Brecht, TELLING TALES both entertains the emotions and stimulates the intellect, making viewers aware of the act of viewing as well as letting them lose themselves in the viewed artefact; it draws them in with odd gobs of gaudy, conventionally-cut colour and spits them out with immaculately choreographed black & white single shot sequences. Born of the 1970's narrative deconstruction school, this is a unique gem of its time.

"This impressive film… boldly and illuminatingly tackles two of today’s most pressing problems: the relationship between women’s emancipation and class difference and the role of the media in preserving the status quo." Time Out
"One of the leading films from the independent cinema sector." TV Times

Return to film list

  • "Richard Woolley has the rare gift of keeping you anxious to know what happens next"
  • David Robinson, The Times