Room At The Top

Confirmed for BBC Four on 26 September at 9.00pm to 10.00pm

Ep 1/2

Wednesday 26 September



Room At The Top is based on John Braine’s classic novel about Joe Lampton, a young man on the make in 1940’s Yorkshire. Set amid the social aspirations of post-war Britain, Room at the Top is about one man’s struggle to gain status against all odds.

Having qualified as an accountant in a German prisoner of war camp, Joe leaves working-class, industrial Dufton behind him and takes a job as senior audit clerk at the town hall in affluent Warley. He takes lodgings at 'T’ Top' – the poshest part of the town – and starts to make his mark on Warley society. Good at his job, Joe quickly shows his natural skill at climbing the career ladder up through the petty politics of local government. But Joe has two things on his mind – money and sex – and his ambitions go well beyond anything offered by civic life.

He embarks on a plan to marry into the prosperous middle classes by joining the local amateur dramatic society in order to meet a better class of woman. Seeing that Joe’s working-class, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude is likely to get him into trouble, fellow thespian Alice Aisgill takes him under her wing. She is 10 years older than Joe, and urges him to date Susan Brown, daughter of the richest and most powerful man in Warley.

Alice is unhappily married to a rich local car dealer and is known in the am-dram society as something of a femme fatale. She watches as Joe succeeds in luring Susan away from her rich boyfriend Jack Wales. But Joe’s cold-blooded ambition and Alice’s detached role as matchmaker are blown apart by something neither she nor Joe can control – their passion for each other.

Joe Lampton is played by Matthew McNulty, Alice Aisgill by Maxine Peake, Susan Brown by Jenna-Louise Coleman, Counsellor Brown by Kevin McNally and Jack Wales by Theo James.