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Memories are made of this

Monday was given over to Cine-Sisters, a richly interesting symposium about women working in the film and television industries. The event was organised by the Cinema and Television Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester and the School of Film and Television Studies, University of East Anglia. The highlight for me (although it’s a bit off-topic here) was a presentation about Doreen Stephens by Dr Mary Irwin from the History of Television for Women, 1947-1989 research project at the University of Warwick and De Montfort University. Stephens was editor of programmes for women at the BBC in the 1950s and responsible, among other series, for the daytime Wednesday Magazine (1958-61). I was astonished to discover that this was an arts magazine series that pre-dated Monitor (1958-64) and that some four hours of recordings survive. But that’s for another blog entry on another blog.

A key focus of the symposium, and the source on which several of the papers drew, was the BECTU History Project. This is a wonderful collection of more than six hundred recordings of oral history interviews with people who have worked in the film and television industries. It was started in 1986 and as a consequence it contains precious encounters with many of the now-deceased pioneers. Only a small percentage of the interviews have been transcribed, but nonetheless it’s an absolutely invaluable resource — and one that will be important for our Screen Plays research.

You can download a full list of the interviewees from the BECTU History Project web page, which also has details of how to access the recordings themselves (none of which are yet online). A quick look through that list shows that all of the following are directly relevant to our interests — although I have no doubt that we will discover others as our research develops.

Moira Armstrong: television director who began work in the 1960s and whose recent credits include Lark Rise to Candleford.

Dallas Bower: one of the first television producers with the BBC at Alexandra Palace in the 1930s.

Rudolph Cartier: influential drama director with the BBC in the 1950s and ’60s.

James Cellan Jones: director and producer of television plays, and BBC drama executive.

Charles Crichton: television director (and also well-known feature film director, especially for Ealing Studios).

Eileen Diss: theatre and television designer.

Peter Duguid: actor and prolific television director in the 1960s and ’70s.

Denis Forman: Granada television executive.

Joan Kemp-Welch: theatre and television director, most significantly at ATV in the 1960s.

Richard Levin: Head of Design and Supply, BBC, from 1953 onwards.

Sydney Newman: drama executive at ABC from the late 1950s; Head of Drama, BBC, 1962-67.

Shaun Sutton: a producer and director of plays; Head of Drama, BBC, 1967-81.


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Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace
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