Time Slip by Wally K. Daly

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Time Slip by Wally K. Daly (1983).  Dir. Martin Jenkins.  Perf. Paul Daneman, Donald Hewlett, Gwen Watford.  BBC Radio 4 Extra, 25 Jan. 2015.  BBCiPlayer to 23 Feb. 2015.


Imagine you were like an amoeba which could reproduce yourself simply through meiosis, creating copy after copy of yourself!  Husbands would not have to return home to their spouses, but could spend all evening in the pub, sending their copies to undertake their familial responsibilities instead.  Adultery would be straightforward: while one copy would be safely sharing a bed with one’s spouse, the other could be out on the town with no questions asked.


This was the basic premise of Wally K. Daly’s farcical comedy in which Paul (Paul Daneman) comes home one night to tell his wife Fay (Norma Ronald) about an experiment conducted at his work where human beings could be replicated.  Paul goes upstairs, and Paul 2 (also played by Daneman) enters, behaving in precisely the same way as his ‘original.’  Needless to say certain complications ensue, especially when the two Pauls encounter one another.


Matters are further confused, however, when it transpires that Paul’s best friend Frank (Donald Hewlett) has also experienced the same process; when he and Paul go to the pub to discuss the issue, the two copies (of Frank and Paul) stay at home, and then decide to go to the pub themselves.  Needless to say this causes considerable consternation, especially for the hapless pub landlord (Eric Allen) who finds himself having to serve two sets of the same people.


Time Slip comes to a farcical climax over a bridge game, when Paul’s and Frank’s copies fade away and explode (as they are programmed to do), leaving the real husbands to be restored to their distraught wives.  Or are they ‘really’ the true husbands, or are they also copies?


Wally K. Daly makes great play out of the idea of the divided self – a common trope in psychotherapy, where patients are often encouraged to step out of themselves and reflect on their behavior.  In this instance, it can have a beneficial effect, especially for those needing to make sense of their lives.  By contrast Time Slip suggests that the decision to split one’s personality into more than one component, either through science or psychology, is potentially dangerous, as we can perhaps forget the ‘real’ person lurking underneath.  Or perhaps there is no such thing as the ‘real’ person  ….?