Sir Hubert and Lady Caroline return to England from the British colony of Kjiarna in Africa, where Sir Hubert has been working for the Colonial Office. The pair have been married for just a year, and decide to settle down in a large cottage in Sussex. But Sir Hubert finds it difficult to adjust to life outside of colonial power. He becomes paranoid that he is being stalked by the native people of Kjiarna, the Kibbobola, over which he is used to exercising unquestioned control. While visiting London, Sir Hubert begins to suspect that his wife is having an affair with Claud, the barman at their hotel. When he discovers caricatures of him and his wife that Claud has been drawing, he is convinced of it, and takes action that reveals the darkest instincts of colonial brutality.

Sleeping Dog was first broadcast as a BBC Wednesday Play on 11th October 1967.

The cast was as follows:

SIR HUBERT – Marius Goring
LADY CAROLINE – Rachel Kempson
CLAUD – Johnny Sekka
GREATORIX – Denys Graham
YOUNG MAN – Nicholas Critchley
SIR GEOFFREY – Peter Graves
BARMAID – Wendy Ascot

Director: Waris Hussein
Producer: Graeme MacDonald
Script Editor: Kenith Trodd
Incidental music by Michael Dress

Gerald Savory, Head of BBC Television Plays in 1967, writes about the Wednesday Play and Sleeping Dog in the Radio Times, 5th October 1967:

The Plays You Can’t Ignore – Gerald Savory, Head Of BBC Television plays, writes about a new season of hard-hitting plays by a galaxy of writing talent: It is said that Albert Einstein had two main distractions. He played Mozart on the violin and was addicted to Westerns, claiming that both offered him equal relaxation according to his mood. Most of us who enjoy television feel much the same way. Sometimes we enjoy pure escapism, sometimes we look for something more stimulating. We ask to be provoked, to have our hackles raised, to be gripped by shocking truths and issues that people care about, and towards which we may have become dangerously complacent.

It is to this mood that The Wednesday Play has been aimed since its inception in 1964. Most of the plays are unashamedly controversial, though they come in all shapes and sizes – straightforward, satirical, tragic, comic. And they come with one common denominator – an illumination of truth. The results have been stunning, popular, and disturbing: Nell Dunn’s Up The Junction and Jeremy Sandford’s Cathy Come Home, David Mercer’s In Two Minds, David Halliwell’s Cock, Hen And Courting Pit, David Turner’s Way Off Beat and Simon Gray’s A Way With The Ladies. The Wednesday Play has become a catch-phrase, a guarantee of an original and absorbing evening. 

It is no exaggeration to say that the freedom and encouragement offered by the BBC to the writers of The Wednesday Play are key factors in its being the envy of the world’s television services. This seventh season will be in the hands of three producers – Irene Shubik, Graeme MacDonald, and Tony Garnett.

Tonight it is launched with a strong drama by Simon Gray. Sleeping Dog tells the story of a retired Governor of a remote colonial outpost and his wife who return to a Britain which is not the one they love and remember. They try to cope with their problems, but drive themselves to solutions at first eccentric, and then macabre.

PUBLISHING INFORMATION

Sleeping Dog is now available as a Faber Contemporary Classic in Simon Gray: Plays 1. To order a copy on special offer at 25% discount (using code GRAYPLAYS) please contact Faber.

Sleeping Dog is also published in the following edition:

The Definitive Simon Gray Volume I (Faber and Faber 1992 ISBN 0-571-16223-1)