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Once in a Lifetime (BBC-WNET, 1988)

The sixth and final screening in our Classics on TV: Great American Playwrights season at BFI Southbank this month is of the fast-paced and sparkling comedy Once in a Lifetime by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. First staged to acclaim on Broadway in 1930, this play satirizes Hollywood at the point in 1927 when talking pictures were on the cusp of becoming a global commercial phenomenon. This 1988 BBC-WNET production features splendid comic performances from Kristoffer Tabori (Jerry), Niall Buggy (George) and David Suchet (Glogauer), but Zoë Wanamaker’s more nuanced performance as May brings depth to this riotous comedy of blunders. Book your ticket on the BFI website for the 6.10pm screening on Thursday 29 January 2015! Continue reading

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Rocket to the Moon (Channel 4-PBS, 1986)

The fifth, and penultimate, screening in our Classics on TV: Great American Playwrights season at BFI Southbank this month is of the 1986 Channel 4-PBS production of Clifford Odets’ play Rocket to the Moon, directed by John Jacobs (who is also credited with the 1958 BBC production of Strange Interlude from earlier in the season!) and featuring strong performances from Judy Davis and John Malkovich, as well as Connie Booth and Eli Wallach. Continue reading

Arthur Miller on the small screen 3: The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s (1915-2005) American tragedies have not only proved to be extremely popular on both British professional and amateur stages for more than half a century but they have also enjoyed a longstanding place at the heart of English literature curricula in schools. It is not surprising, therefore, to discover that at least twelve productions of his plays have been transmitted on British television networks over a forty-year period from 1957 to 1997. This third in a series of four posts considers the three extant productions of The Crucible transmitted in 1959 (Granada), 1968 (Rediffusion) and 1981 (BBC), with a special focus on the last of the three for which a viewing copy exists in the archives. Continue reading

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Granada for ITV, 1976)

The third screening in our Classics on TV: Great American Playwrights season at BFI Southbank this month is of the 1976 Granada for ITV production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer-winning play of a Deep South family in crisis. Robert Moore directs this sumptuous production, starring Laurence Olivier as Big Daddy, Robert Wagner as his alcoholic son Brick and Natalie Wood as Brick’s dissatisfied wife. Continue reading

World Theatre: Strange Interlude (BBC, 1958)

Strange Interlude is being screened as the second in the Classics on TV: Great American Playwrights season at BFI Southbank in January 2015. Read more and book your ticket for the screening at 2.45pm on Sunday 11 January 2015 at BFI Southbank. The World Theatre series of plays that ran on BBC Television in the first three months of 1958 contains what must be the most adventurous – some might say eccentric, or even obscure – choice of theatre plays that the medium has ever embraced. Strange Interlude was the climax to the season, broadcast in two ninety-minute-plus episodes on the consecutive Sunday evenings of 23 and 30 March 1958. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace