It has long been the received wisdom that television drama has become increasingly ‘filmic’ in orientation, moving away from the ‘theatrical’ as its point of aesthetic reference. This development, which is associated with the rejection of the studio in favour of location shooting – made possible by the increased use of new technology in the 1960s – and with the adoption of cinematic as opposed to theatrical genres, is generally regarded as a sign that the medium has come into its own. By examining a key ‘moment of change’ in the history of television drama, the BBC ‘Wednesday Play’ series of 1964 to 1970, this article asks what was lost in the movement out of the studio and into the streets, and questions the notion that the transition from ‘theatre’ to ‘film’, in the wake of Ken Loach and Tony Garnett's experiments in all-film production, was without tension or contradiction. The discussion explores issues of dramatic space as well as of socio-cultural context, expectation, and audience, and incorporates detailed analyses of Nell Dunn's Up the Junction (1965) and David Mercer's Let's Murder Vivaldi (1968). Madeleine MacMurraugh-Kavanagh is the Post-Doctoral Research Fellow on the HEFCE-funded project, ‘The BBC Wednesday Plays and Post-War British Drama’, now in its third year at the University of Reading. Her publications include Peter Shaffer: Theatre and Drama (Macmillan, 1998), and papers in Screen, The British Journal of Canadian Studies, The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, and Media, Culture, and Society. Stephen Lacey is a lecturer in Film and Drama at the University of Reading, where he is co-director of the ‘BBC Wednesday Plays’ project. His publications include British Realist Theatre: the New Wave and its Contexts (Routledge, 1995) and articles in New Theatre Quarterly and Studies in Theatre Production.