SINCE the National Theatre started broadcasting plays live from London, I’ve seen Helen Mirren as Phèdre, Derek Jacobi as Lear, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Frankenstein.

This week, it was Julie Walters' turn as Judy Haussman - a character less well known but no less fierce.

The Last of the Haussmans, the first play from Stephen Beresford, is a comic look at the chaos and debris kicked up when an old hippy is reunited with the children she abandoned in favour of free love.

Because this is a live broadcast, the cameras mean whose of us watching in cinemas and village halls get a closer look at the anger, passion and pain pouring out of raggedy lost son Nick (Rory Kinnear) and resentful, heart-broken daughter Libby (Helen McCrory). It's strong stuff.

Walters, returning to the stage after a 12 year break, is the loud, anarchic free spirit Judy whose mistakes still bear down on her children, but whose message you ultimately want them to hear.

It’s a funny, engaging look at families, the legacy of the 1960s generation and a little reminder that it’s always the people you love the most who know how to stick the knife in best.