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Christmas past at the BBC: the second half of the 1950s. Part 2

Leafing through the Christmas edition of the Radio Times this year made me think back to the television fare offered to viewers in Christmases long past. I thought I’d glance back at the BBC Television offerings from the second half of the 1950s, part of the period for which I’ve been engaged in collecting data for the Screen Plays database. The BBC Television viewer usually had a good choice between productions of stage plays which had a festive or seasonal connection and others which had not (but it is noticeable that these latter plays tended already to have an established reputation on the stage). There were also, of course, the usual sprinkling of pantomimes, some of which were televised from theatres with others presented especially for television; however, there do appear to be fewer pantomimes or other festive offerings televised in the new year period as the decade comes to a close and a subtle shift in taste towards a more realistic and socially engaged television drama. This five-year survey is published in two parts: Part 1, covering 1955-56, was published on 28 December and today appears Part 2 on the 1957-59 period. Continue reading

Christmas past at the BBC: the second half of the 1950s. Part 1

Leafing through the Christmas edition of the Radio Times has made me think back to the television fare offered to viewers in Christmases long past. I thought I’d glance back at the BBC Television offerings from the second half of the 1950s, part of the period for which I’ve been engaged in collecting data for the Screen Plays database. The BBC Television viewer usually had a good choice between productions of stage plays which had a festive or seasonal connection and others which had not (but it is noticeable that these latter plays tended already to have an established reputation on the stage). There were also, of course, the usual sprinkling of pantomimes, some of which were televised from theatres with others presented especially for television; however, there do appear to be fewer pantomimes or other festive offerings televised in the new year period as the decade comes to a close. This five-year survey is published in two parts: Part 1 covers 1955-56 and Part 2 1957-59. Continue reading

The Clouds (BBC / The Open University, 1971)

Owing to the characteristically multidisciplinary nature of the The Open University curriculum, plays had been an important part of the very first OU courses in 1971. Take the very first iteration of the Arts Foundation course (A100, which ran 1971-77), the aim of which was to introduce several thousand new students each year to university-level study across a range of subject areas, including art, civilization, culture, drama, history, literature, music, philosophy and poetry. The study resources for ‘Which was Socrates?’, two A100 units on the ancient Greek philosopher which were focused on the extant literary sources upon which a picture of the historical Socrates may be built, included a twenty-five minute television production of scenes from Aristophanes’ ancient Greek comedy Clouds (first performed in 423 BC), a play in which Socrates appears as a character. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace