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One month on

The last day of the month, and we’ve completed (or ought to have) one thirty-sixth of the Screen Plays research. So far, our most public part of the project has been this blog, and here I want to revisit the posts to date — and also to repeat our encouragement to comment and contribute. Continue reading


The Typewriter (A-R for ITV, 1962)

Jean Cocteau’s play The Typewriter, as adapted by Giles Cooper and produced and directed by Joan Kemp-Welch for Associated-Rediffusion, is a strange strange beast. The scholar of French literature Jacques Guicharnaud has written that the 1941 drama is ‘generally considered [Cocteau’s] worse play and one that he himself repudiated’ and as transferred to television here with the conventions of a British drawing-room detective story it becomes almost incoherent. Continue reading

Greek plays: Lysistrata (BBC, 1964)

My recent foray to the BBC Written Archives Centre to consult materials for my Greeks on screen case study led to the discovery that only two production files were extant for my list of around ten BBC television productions of Greek plays. The two productions for which these (fairly substantial) production files exist are the 1958 Euripidean tragedy Women of Troy and the 1964 Aristophanic comedy Lysistrata. In my last post, I wrote about Women of Troy, and today I tackle Lysistrata. Continue reading

Bookshelf: Adventure in Vision (1950) by John Swift

The subtitle of John Swift’s book is The First Twenty-Five Years of Television, although when it appeared in 1950 there had been only seven years of official BBC transmissions. Swift was a journalist who as ‘The Scanner’ had been writing the Radio Times television diary, and his book covers the quarter of a century after John Logie Baird’s public demonstrations of his invention at Selfridge’s department store in London. Continue reading

On DVD: ten plays from George Bernard Shaw

One of the few published groupings of BBC productions of stage plays is the eight-disc box set The Bernard Shaw Collection. The productions were made between 1972 and 1989, the last of them being Arms and the Man with Helena Bonham Carter and Dinsdale Landen. Over the next few weeks I intend to blog about each of the productions, but to begin with this post details the productions (with one or two critical comments) in the order in which Shaw wrote the originals. Continue reading

‘Something wicked…’: Macbeth (BBC, 2010)

Although the blog to date has been largely concerned with adaptations through to the 1960s, Screen Plays as a research project is interested in the presentation of stage plays on screen right up to the present day. One of the most recent is the 2010 Illuminations film of Macbeth. After too long a wait for all of us, Macbeth is released today on DVD. Continue reading

Greek plays: Women of Troy (BBC, 1958)

In my recent post Greeks on screen, I offered a preliminary survey of productions of Greek drama on British television. Today I would like to build on that by looking in more detail at the first well documented production―the 1958 BBC production of Women of Troy, the harrowing tragedy by Euripides that follows the fates of the women after Troy has been sacked and their husbands killed. Continue reading

Theatre 625: Doctor Knock (BBC, 1966)

A polished adaptation of Jules Romains’ drama, the BBC production of Doctor Knock was originally transmitted at 8pm on the first Sunday of 1966. The BBC repeated the play in September that year, when J. C. Trewin in The Listener hymned its star Leonard Rossiter as ‘vastly professional and carefully casual’. And then the corporation either wiped or threw away the master recording. Continue reading

Bookshelf: Mid-Century Drama (1962) by Laurence Kitchin

Let’s see how this develops but my sense is that ‘Bookshelf’ entries might be volumes from other contexts or disciplines apart from media studies. So my first contribution is a study from nearly fifty years ago by the critic Laurence Kitchin, Mid-Century Drama. I am particularly interested in the book’s attitude towards television. Continue reading

Ibsen on Independent Television

Ibsen on television will be one of my research projects as Screen Plays develops, but while there is an accessible list of BBC Ibsen dramas (although this is no sense complete), nothing comparable exists online for the ITV plays. So today’s blog post offers just that. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace