Sectarians, OAPs, gansters, punks, the disabled....and Elvis Costello!
Man, what a melting pot.
When I was a teen I loved this film so much that I recorded the whole soundtrack onto a cassette so that I could listen to it on my Walkman. I no longer have that audio tape cassette or a VHS of No Surrender, but can still recall many lines of Bleasdale's outstanding dialogue. You can buy a paperback of the screenplay very cheaply over at Amazon Marketplace, but for the full effect you really do need, of course, the spot-on performances.
I remember the BFI's publication The Monthly Film Bulletin describing it as being a bit like a Merseyside version of Nashville, and I think that's true. It's darker that Altman's film, and more tightly scripted and controlled, but in its dissection of society, its weaving of a huge number of characters and plot threads, its skillful shifting in tone from comic to grim, it's clash of politics in an "entertainment" setting, it's sheer brilliance.....well, for my money it actually outdoes Nashville (which is quite a compliment).
And yet, hardly anyone remembers this film now. Bleasdale has become quite well represented on DVD, but No Surrender seems to have slipped through the net. Let's hope it sees the light of a dodgy fluorescent tube soon.