Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Ten Bob in Winter (1963)


Main image of Ten Bob in Winter (1963)
16mm, black and white, 12 mins
DirectorLloyd Reckord
Production CompanyBFI Experimental Film Fund
ProducerLloyd Reckord
PhotographyGavrik Losey
MusicJoe Harriott

Cast: Winston Stona; Bari Johnson; Andrew Salkey; Peter Maddern; Lloyd Reckord

Show full cast and credits

An unemployed black student borrows ten shillings from a friend, then lends the money to a musician he has just met.

Show full synopsis

In 1963, when Ten Bob in Winter was released, London was a cold and unwelcome place for black immigrants. Those looking for accommodation were frequently met with signs reading "No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs".

In this context it's surprising that Jamaican-born actor and writer Lloyd Reckord should choose as the subject of his film not race and racism, but class and snobbery among black immigrants.

Ten Bob in Winter is an energetic short film, shot on 16mm in black and white, which is fresh and experimental yet still light and accessible. In place of dialogue, the director narrates in a jazz rap style reminiscent of Langston Hughes, while a sparky jazz soundtrack is provided by the Joe Harriott Quintet.

The tension in the film is not between black and white - the black central character is seen to have a good friendship with a white man, who loans him the ten shilling note of the title - but between black men of different classes.

The student reluctantly loans the ten bob to another black man, a musician. He is wary of the musician, who is dressed in tatty clothes and is much darker in complexion than the student. Caribbean middle-class people in the 1960s were very 'colour conscious', an enduring legacy of the plantation system during slavery. Reckord treats this issue with subtlety and depth.

When the student encounters his (even lighter) expensively dressed, snobby friend outside the pawnshop, he becomes acutely aware of his lower economic and social status, and tries unsuccessfully to impress him. His embarrassment is such that he deliberately ignores the musician, who is trying to return the loan.

As the snooty friend leaves, the student curses himself for his snobbery and stupidity at losing his money, but as he slopes off the musician appears with his money. Reckord redeems the darker man, showing him to be honest in spite of his lack of status. Reckord's film demonstrates in a simple way how uncomfortable the black middle-class is with its poor cousins, and how ridiculous and superficial these divisions are.

Inge Blackman

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (11:40)
Extract (1:25)
Production stills
Reckord, Lloyd (1929)
Black British Film
Black Pioneers