- The play is set sometime between the 1960s and 1980s
- The River Mersey was the "life-blood" of Liverpool and when it collapsed not only effected unemployment but mental health of people.
- 1960s saw the emergence of 'youth culture'
- Rise of mass advertising and colour television, children were exposed to films, televison programmes and celebrities.
- Family structure was still very traditional
- When Russel wrote the play, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister
- Strong class divide
- There are references throughout to real issues that affected people in the late 1960s and 1970s.
- Influenced by issues such as rising unemployment and the recession.
- Mr Lyons refers to the "shrinking pound" and the "rising price of oil"
- "Teenagers" became a recognised age group, first time it was accepted that young people had their own culture and ways of behaving.
- Mickey, Edward and Linda's teenage years are presented in a very positive light. A quick sequence of scenes show them going out together to places like the beach and the rifle range. Narrator emphasises how carefree they are at this time.
- Bands like 'The Beatles' had huge fan bases - came from Liverpool.
- Young people became an important force in protest movements against nuclear weapons etc, believed in their power to shape the future, started to break away from their parents' views.
- Young people often imitated characters from films and television. In the play, children pretend to be cowboys, Indians and gangsters.
- Big developments in social laws, 1960s allowed homosexuality to be legal and divorce easier.
- Social attitudes were slow to change, families expected to have a 'nuclear' structure (mother, father, children). Single parent famillies were frowned upon.
- Most families were patriarchal (man led the family), husband went to work, wife stayed in and did house work. Mr and Mrs Lyons typical family, Mrs Johnstone fills both roles.
- 1970s Britians traditional industries were in the decline because they were insufficient in keeping up with forgein competition and weren't economically viable anymore, Margaret Thatcher closed them down.
- Mickey represents the many working-class men who became unemployed in this period. He loses his job, signs onto the dole and despite three months of desperately searching for work he can't find any. Begins his descent into depression and prompts him to turn to crime.
- Working-class families struggled financially. Many found it difficult to afford basic things like food, clothes and heating.
- Middle-class were largely unaffected, those who did work in decling industries were running them nd had transferable skills like management so could get new jobs
- Educational class divides. Middle-class children went to private schools, UNI and then got well paid jobs. Working-class, UNI wasnt an option and became stuck in low-paid jobs for life, with little oppotunity for progress.
- Mr Lyons shows no compassion towards his secretary, Miss Jones, when he fires her. His own job is secure so he dismisses her by saying "It's just another sign / Of the times"