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outside broadcasts

This tag is associated with 14 posts

Beyond the boundaries: intermedial ideas in Paris

Paris, you will be delighted to know, looked gorgeous in the spring sunshine over the past two days. Not, of course, that I saw much of the city, because I was attending the colloquium Théâtre au cinéma / cinéma au théâtre: aires culturelles francophones et anglophones at which I was presenting a paper. This was the first conference in 2012 at which Screen Plays was represented – but there are plenty more to come in the year, including the Classical Association Annual Conference and the Performance and Television Space Conference, both in April, the International Screen Studies Conference at the end of June and our own one-day event on 19 October (further details of which will be available soon). Continue reading

Live from the Intimate Theatre, 1946-1949, part 3

In two previous posts I have outlined something of the BBC’s relationship with The Intimate Theatre in Palmers Green in the immediate post-war years. A ban by the Theatrical Management Association meant that the BBC was unable to mount outside broadcasts from mainstream theatres, and so the corporation was forced to rely on small rep houses for live theatre with an audience. Fo three years, the Intimate was the BBC’s mainstay for such theatre plays, with fourteen productions broadcast between December 1946 and August 1949. These were broadcast despite the often poor quality of the productions, frequent technical hitches and obstructive tactics of other producers and copyright holders. This third post concentrates on the difficulties of the later years and the final, fifteenth Intimate production which at the last minute had to be relocated to an Alexandra Palace studio. Continue reading

Live from The Intimate Theatre, 1946-1949, part 2

My previous post sketched the start of the story of The Intimate Theatre in Palmers Green and of the BBC’s outside broadcasts which began from there in December 1946. This second of three posts picks up the relationship with the second broadcast from N13, of the Broadway comedy Junior Miss. The television service of the time was unable to negotiate access to mainstream theatres because of the obstructive attitude of the Theatrical Management Association (TMA). But the owner of the Intimate, Fred Marlow, was prepared to deal directly with the BBC and as a consequence his modest rep house in north London provided fourteen live dramas over a period of three years. Continue reading

Live from The Intimate Theatre, 1946-1949, part 1

Between 1946 and 1949 the BBC broadcast fourteen productions from The Intimate Theatre, a modest repertory house in Palmers Green. These outside broadcasts from London N13 were a significant element in the schedules of the returning television service. Yet the stage productions had usually benefitted from only a week’s rehearsal before they were transmitted live by three cameras (which themselves seem to have suffered frequent breakdowns). The quality was patchy, at best, but the members of the Theatrical Management Association (TMA) were preventing the BBC from having access to more prestigious theatres. As a consequence, the broadcasts from The Intimate Theatre were the most significant engagement between the London stage and television in the immediate post-war years. Continue reading

A tale of six Cinders, part 1: Cinderella (BBC, 1946, 1947)

Perhaps the rags-to-riches theme of Cinderella was felt to have a particular resonance for austerity Britain in the late 1940s. Whatever the reason, in the post-war years BBC Television does seem to have been remarkably keen on the fairy story. There was a studio presentation of a Players’ Theatre version in early January 1947 and an outside broadcast of a different staging in December that year. Another OB Cinderella was planned for January 1948, although this was cancelled, and then at Christmas later in 1948 there was a further studio production. That makes four versions, to which can be added a comic opera Cinderella first presented on television in 1938 and considered for revival just after the war, plus yet another OB version that may or may not have been broadcast in December 1946. The tales of these various Cinders suggest some of the problems of producing stage plays on television in those pioneering days. Continue reading

Brian Rix presents: Wolf’s Clothing (BBC, 1961)

I am writing a series of blogs about the remarkable series of comedy outside broadcasts made by the BBC with Brian Rix at the Whitehall Theatre between 1952 and 1969. Previous posts have considered Reluctant Heroes (BBC, 1952) and Postman’s Knock (BBC, 1952), and today I want to respond to the recording of Wolf’s Clothing, which was shown on 21 May 1961. This was the twenty-fifth live broadcast from the Whitehall, but it appears to be the first one to survive in the archives — and from the seventy or so transmissions, I can at present identify only this recording and two others. Continue reading

A pantomime of errors: Jack and the Beanstalk (BBC, 1947)

Today’s seasonal post relates a take of woe about a pantomime broadcast from a Christmas past. What follows is a brief encounter with the catalogue of problems that afflicted the planned presentation in early January 1947 from the Grand Theatre of ‘Croydon’s biggest pantomime’, Jack and the Beanstalk. Continue reading

Brian Rix presents: Postman’s Knock (BBC, 1952)

My first ‘Brian Rix presents’ blog explored the production context for the BBC’s broadcast from the Whitehall Theatre of the first act of Reluctant Heroes on 14 May 1952. This was immensely popular with viewers, and later in the year the BBC followed up the broadcast with another farce from the Whitehall, Philip King’s Postman’s Knock, this time given as an abridged form of the full play. But it was then to be almost three years before another Whitehall farce began the showings that were central to the BBC schedule for the next decade and more. This post considers how Postman’s Knock came about – and why, despite a success comparable to Reluctant Heroes, it did not immediately lead to a series of broadcasts. Continue reading

In the beginning: Twelfth Night (BBC, 1939)

‘I sat in my own sitting room the other night,’ Grace Wyndham Goldie wrote in early 1939 in The Listener, ‘and watched Twelfth Night being performed on the stage of the Phoenix Theatre. And the miracle of television came home to me afresh.’ The prompt for this recognition of the fledgling medium’s power was a stage production by Michel Saint-Denis with Peggy Ashcroft as Viola, which was the second full-length drama to be broadcast from a theatre. Continue reading

Brian Rix presents: Reluctant Heroes (BBC, 1952)

Between 1955 and the late 1960s BBC Television broadcast some seventy live comedies from the Whitehall Theatre in London. Presented by the actor-manager Brian Rix, these transmissions – often shown at Christmas or on other bank holidays – were strikingly popular fixtures in the schedules. They were rarely discussed by journalists at the time and have been ignored by writers on television ever since. Recordings of only a handful survive, but there is extensive documentation of almost all of them in the BBC Written Archive Centre. They are the most sustained and successful partnership between a theatre company and a broadcaster, and in a series of posts over the coming weeks I intend to explore their production context, the responses of both critics and audiences at the time, and how we might assess their significance today. This first post details what might be regarded as a prologue to the main series – the broadcast on 14 May 1952 of just the first act of Colin Morris’ hit comedy Reluctant Heroes. Continue reading