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The Spread of the Eagle: Julius Caesar (BBC, 1963)

I have been continuing my exploration of television productions of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and I am struck by the scheduling of four BBC realisations of the full play between 1959 and 1964. This contrasts strikingly with the gap of thirty-three years between the penultimate BBC presentation in 1979, which was part of The BBC Television Shakespeare, and the recent BBC Four showing of the Illuminations film developed from the current staging by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I have blogged previously about the 1959 World Theatre production, the 1960 version for BBC Schools and the recording of the National Youth Theatre’s ‘teddy boy’ Julius Caesar in 1964. The fourth production was mounted by producer Peter Dews as part of his ambitious nine-part series Spread of the Eagle. Continue reading

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For Schools: Hamlet (A-R for ITV Schools, 1961)

Tonight I was back at BFI Southbank for a showing of a 1961 Hamlet made for schools television by Associated Rediffusion. Until some two years ago this was thought lost, but a print was among those discovered by archivists at the Library of Congress. It would be pleasing to report that a masterpiece has been restored to us, but such critical honesty as I own to forces me to acknowledge that the production really is not very good. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace