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From the ’50s: plays from France

One of the great mysteries of the history of theatre plays on British television is the preponderance of broadcasts of modern French drama in the later 1950s and ’60s. Following a production on BBC Television in 1955 of The Vale of Shadows by Jean Anouilh (1910-1987), there were twenty productions of his plays in the next fifteen years. No other French playwright comes close to this achievement, but during this period there were five Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) plays, four presentations each of plays by Jacques Deval (1890-1972) and Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), and three original productions of dramas by Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944) plus an outside broadcast of Act II of his Ondine in the acclaimed 1961 Royal Shakespeare Company production by Peter Hall. Television drama producers in these years were, at least by comparison with later years, fervent Francophiles. So why? Continue reading

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Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace