Screening Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, to celebrate the life & work of director, Alastair Reid

With an introduction and appreciation of the work of Alastair Reid (1939-2011) by Peter Ansorge, Head of Drama at Channel 4, who commissioned the series

Alastair Reid

Alastair Reid

Alastair’s Obituary in Guardian

From 3.00pm until 9.00pm with 2 intermissions for tea and supper (5 hours of film in 3 parts)

Regular Ebenezers will remember our wonderful Sunday Specials showing Alastair Reid’s multi-BAFTA winning TRAFFIK and NOSTROMO & the great pleasure in having Alastair introduce them and talk so brilliantly about his experiences of filming both series. We had already arranged to show TALES OF THE CITY (view opening scene) before his untimely death late last year. Jane Reid, his wife - who had worked with him on many films over a lifetime of terrific productivity - has kindly allowed us, in fact encouraged us, to continue with our plans.

“Comedy, soap opera, mystery, and romance, Tales of the City is so much fun you might even be tempted to watch the entire five hours in one sitting.”

The series is a wonderfully truthful adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s novel – but also an inspired piece of filmmaking in its own right. Director Alastair Reid and screenwriter Richard Kramer bring all the characters and incidents of Maupin’s novel vividly to life. It was filmed in the book’s real locations in San Francisco and focuses on the residents of 28 Barbary Lane (with its wonderful courtyard set of Alastair’s inspired creation - see image below), their search for love and meaning, their interwoven stories that criss-cross and tangle as they move across the city, from trailer parks to mansions, from celebrity fat farms to gay and straight bath houses (with adultery, drugs, sex and nakedness), always returning to 28 Barbary Lane.

It is an extraordinary evocation – satirical & loving, serious & funny - of the late 1970s, a world before Aids and the reactionary conservatism of the 1980s.

The series was groundbreaking television, inspiring many much later productions, paving the way for shows like Sex & the City, Queer as Folk, Six Feet Under, Will and Grace. But, despite huge critical acclaim, an armful of awards and unprecedented ratings, it provoked apoplectic rage from the American conservative right. It was condemned and banned in various parts of America, there were bomb threats at studios, lurid reports in newspapers and magazines – all of which sent its ratings skyrocketing. But American TV lacked the courage and imaginative verve of Channel 4 so it caved in to conservative pressure, reneging on promises to broadcast a sequel, much to Maupin’s disgust. But he loved Alastair’s re-telling, calling it a “stunningly atmospheric production” with an extraordinary convergence of talent. Both Olympia Dukakis (Mrs Madrigal) and Laura Linney (Mary Anne) said that Alastair was the best director they had ever worked with.

Alastair Reid’s work includes :~

Shades of Greene



Inspector Morse

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Selling Hitler


Tales of the City


There will be a Fabulous Prize of Alastair's favourite malt whiskey to the first correct answer to a question( to be announced at the beginning) about the film.

2012Martin Keeley