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BBC Schools

This tag is associated with 4 posts

More Synge on the small screen

Following on from my last blog post on the 1960 BBC production of J. M. Synge’s Riders to the Sea which was originally broadcast in a schools television strand and later that year repeated one evening for an adult audience, I offer a brief survey of other plays by Synge which are known to have been produced on British television, including two more schools productions. This survey takes us from three of Synge’s works which were produced by Dubliner Fred O’Donovan in the decade from 1938 up to the 1985 BBC production of The Playboy of the West Indies, Mustapha Matura’s re-working of Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in a 1950s Trinidadian setting. Continue reading

The Edwardians: J. M. Synge’s Riders to the Sea (BBC, 1960)

‘Edwardian Drama on the Small Screen’, our third ‘Classics on TV’ season at BFI Southbank, opens on Thursday with a spectacular double bill. Following the sumptuous 1969 BBC production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, directed by Rudolph Cartier, is the 28-minute production of the one-act play Riders to the Sea by the Irish playwright John Millington Synge (1871-1909). Produced by the BBC for broadcast to schools in 1960, Riders to the Sea has much to recommend it: the production was, in fact, considered to be such a powerful presentation of the drama that it was repeated some months later in an evening slot of 9.30pm with the clear intention of reaching a larger adult audience. This powerful tragedy is set in a sparse set, reflecting the harshness of the environment on the Aran Islands, with the sound of the life-taking sea-waves dominating the soundscape. Dame Sybil Thorndike plays the role of old Maurya who has lost her husband and all of her six sons to the sea, and – with the death of the last – reaches a kind of peace. Sean Connery makes an appearance as her son Bartley, and her daughters Cathleen and Nora are played by Olive McFarland and Jan Kenny respectively. But do come and see for yourself on Thursday at the BFI! 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

Greek plays: Philoctetes (BBC Schools, 1961-62)

In 1961 and 1962 Sophocles’ Philoctetes was produced by BBC Schools and transmitted in two parts in a series on ‘Greek Drama’ for Sixth Forms. The series also featured a production of Euripides’ Bacchae and introductions to the two plays by the moral philosopher Bernard Williams. This post offers my thoughts on the first half of Philoctetes which exists in the BBC’s archives. Continue reading

Emitron camera at Alexandra Palace