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Joan Kemp-Welch

This tag is associated with 5 posts

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

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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

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

100 television stage plays: [3] ITV, 1955-1964

With this third instalment we reach the start of commercial television, and I have chosen to focus on ten ITV productions in the service’s first decade. Associated-Rediffusion, ATV and Granada all made numerous dramas for the network, initially relying on plays previously produced in the theatre but increasingly – and especially once the executive Sydney Newman arrived – commissioning original contemporary scripts. To anyone with only a sense of ITV’s output across, say, the last decade, the list below may look extraordinarily bold and challenging. Continue reading

Greek plays: Sophocles’ Electra (A-R for ITV, 1962)

At 9.45pm on Wednesday 28 November 1962 the ITV audience witnessed an extraordinary broadcast―a production of Sophocles’ Electra in Greek with no subtitles. But this was no antiquarian exercise in declaiming ancient Greek. Rather, this was a television version of Dimitris Rondiris’ internationally touring stage production with the Peiraïkon Theatron company and, using Ioannis Gryparis’ translation, it was being given in the living language of modern Greek. Here I draw on the extant recording at the BFI together with newspaper articles and reviews in working towards a critical interpretation of this production fifty years after its first broadcast. Continue reading