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Theatre Night: Ghosts (BBC, 1987)

In previews at present are two London productions of Henrik Ibsen’s 1881 drama Ghosts. At the Almeida Richard Eyre is directing his own adaptation, while at The Rose Theatre in Kingston Stephen Unwin is also adapting and directing. For such a gloomy and, when it was first written, controversial tale of, seemingly, the sins of the father being visited upon the son, the play has proved surprisingly popular for television. There have been six full productions, the most recent of which was directed by Elijah Moshinsky and broadcast on 14 June 1987 in the short-lived BBC series of classic drama, Theatre Night. This production is the subject of today’s post. Continue reading

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Greek plays: Medea (A-R for ITV Schools, 1963)

In 1963 Associated-Rediffusion produced an unabridged version of Euripides’ Medea, the story of a woman who takes revenge on her husband by murdering their children, which ITV Schools transmitted over three programmes as part of an eleven-part series entitled Theatres and Temples: The Greeks. The series included re-transmissions of earlier productions of severely abridged Greek tragedies but Medea seems to have had a particularly high status in the series and amongst ITV Schools productions of theatre plays more generally, being sold to New Zealand and CBS in America, and being one of eleven exemplary television programmes which Associated-Rediffusion selected as marking it out as a serious cultural rival of the BBC. Continue reading

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (A-R for ITV, 1964)

On Midsummer Day 1964, Shakespeare received his largest British television audience to date when over 3.8 million homes tuned in to the independent channels to see Benny Hill play Bottom in an all-star Associated-Rediffusion production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ITV’s first major in-house production of Shakespeare. This lavishly prepared and well executed production, which was directed by Joan Kemp-Welch, was transmitted to honour the 400th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace