BBC2 Playhouse (1973–1983)
13 user 1 critic

Caught on a Train 

Peter boards a train to attend an important business meeting across Europe. His train trip is made more complicated by two women also assigned to his train compartment. One is an ... See full summary »


Peter Duffell




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peggy Ashcroft ... Frau Messner
Michael Kitchen ... Peter
Wendy Raebeck Wendy Raebeck ... Lorraine
Michael Sheard ... Preston
Ingo Mogendorf Ingo Mogendorf ... Kellner
Louis Sheldon Louis Sheldon ... Dietrich
Michael Kingsbury Michael Kingsbury ... Hans
John Dolan John Dolan ... Small Man in Mac
Christopher Frederick Christopher Frederick ... German Guard
Ken Shaw Ken Shaw ... German Guard
Terry Gurry Terry Gurry ... Belgian Guard
Baron Casanov Baron Casanov ... Fat Man
Martin Phillips Martin Phillips ... Belgian Youth
Richard Merson Richard Merson ... Porter
Lex van Delden Lex van Delden ... Waiter


Peter boards a train to attend an important business meeting across Europe. His train trip is made more complicated by two women also assigned to his train compartment. One is an independent American whom Peter finds attractive. The other is Frau Messner - an extremely particular and demanding older European woman. Between the two of them, they try different aspects of Peter's patience... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

31 October 1980 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

A landmark in British television
17 May 2007 | by MOscarbradleySee all my reviews

Stephen Poliakoff's wonderfully dark and darkly comic "Caught on a Train" could just have easily been written by Kafka as Michael Kitchen's Joseph K-like young Englishman finds his train journey across Europe turning into something of a nightmare after meeting a supercilious, interfering old German lady who is the ultimate passenger from hell. Poliakoff uses these two characters to contrast the old and the new Europe. Ashcroft's aristocratic old Nazi may be symptomatic of a nightmarish dying breed but it is she who has the strength; her kind may have died out but she is a survivor while Kitchen's facile young go-getter 'just doesn't care' as Ashcroft's Frau Messner says. He typifies a divided and largely inconsequential modern Europe.

In these roles both Michael Kitchen and Peggy Ashcroft are superb. Ashcroft's performance here is a legendary piece of television acting and Poliakoff's play, (it is beautifully directed by Peter Duffel), a landmark in British television drama. Ashcroft may be the instigator of all Kitchen's troubles but almost everyone he meets adds to them in some way; his attempt to pick up a beautiful American girl is rebuked by her denunciation of virtually everyone she has met since crossing the Atlantic. Nor is the hint of violence very far away, (Kitchen is finally driven to lift his hand to the old lady). Yes, this is sublime and disquieting stuff. Poliakoff may have borrowed from Kafka but his vision remains truly his own.

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