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Associated-Rediffusion

This tag is associated with 12 posts

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

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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

Arthur Miller on the small screen 4: A View from the Bridge

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 last post in a series of four considers some of the resources I have immediately at hand on the two known productions of Miller’s A View from the Bridge: Joan Kemp-Welch’s 1966 production (Associated-Rediffusion for ITV) and the 1986 three-part BBC schools production by Geoff Wilson. Continue reading

Conference report: Theatre Plays on British Television, 19 October 2012

On 21 February 1896 in what was then the Regent Street Polytechnic Louis Lumiére brothers showcased his Cinematographe for the first performance of a moving film to a paying audience in Britain. On Friday what today is the University of Westminster’s Regent Street building hosted an only slightly less auspicious occasion, when some thirty or so interested scholars, together with a contemporary producer or two, gathered for the Screen Plays conference Theatre Plays on British Television. Continue reading

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

The Angry Gods, comprising Iphigenia at Aulis, Oresteia and The Winter’s Tale (A-R for ITV Schools, 1961)

I’ve been slowly working up my second case study for Screen Plays which concerns stage plays produced on television in educational contexts. Recently I’ve been continuing my research into The Open University’s A307 Drama distance-learning course which was transmitted on television each year for five years from 1977: there were sixteen productions in all; I’ve … Continue reading

Introducing Joan Kemp-Welch (1906-1999)

A really important, and really interesting, aspect of our work is getting a sense of some of the creative figures in the history of stage plays on television. John Wyver began the blog’s series of ‘Introducing’ posts with a piece about Fred O’Donovan, a television producer working for the BBC from 1938 to 1939 and again from 1946 to his death in 1952. Today I introduce Joan Kemp-Welch (1906-1999) who enjoyed a successful career as a stage and film actor, and then a stage director, before beginning work at Associated-Rediffusion in 1955 as one of the first women directors in television. This blog post derives most of its material from a valuable oral history recording made by the BECTU History Project and it offers us some valuable glimpses of her attitude towards adapting the plays to the confines of the commercial schedule, the enormous advantages of having been a theatre director when working on plays in the studio and and the difficulties of being a female television practitioner in the 1950s. Continue reading

International Theatre: A Month in the Country (John Clements / A-R for ITV, 1955)

A Month in the Country is the first stage play produced for ITV, but it is not in any sense a typical television drama of the mid-1950s. Like John Clements’ production of The Wild Duck (1957), this lavish Turgenev adaptation was not recorded in a television studio using multiple electronic cameras. Rather it was shot on 35mm film with a single camera in a movie-style set (and fortunately it survives in the archives). The cast, including Margaret Leighton, Michael Gough and Laurence Harvey, could have graced a top-level feature, and the director Robert Hamer had only six years before made one of the defining classics of the British cinema, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). Continue reading

100 television stage plays: [6] ITV, 1965-1975

Periodisation in these posts is, I recognise, fairly random – and nowhere more so than with this fairly arbitrary decade from ITV’s output. In these years before the comfortable broadcasting duopoly was challenged by Channel 4, Sky and the slew of other services that followed, the regional companies continued to produce high quality single dramas, many of which still were derived from originals written for the theatre. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace