What TV’s on at the BFI in February 2012

Time for our regular look at the TV that the BFI is showing, this time in the month of February 2012. Pretty slim pickings overall, though. There’s a preview of BBC1’s White Heat, followed by a Q&A with the writer Paula Milne. There’s a recently recovered The Wednesday Play starring David Hemmings.

But top of the pile is a two-part retrospective of BBC flagship magazine programme Nationwide, which ran for 15 years on BBC1, complete with a discussion with long-time host Michael Barratt.

Wed 15 Feb 20.00 NFT1: TV Preview: White Heat + Q&A
BBC-ITV Studios 2012. Dir John Alexander. With Sam Claflin, Claire Foy, Reece Ritchie, Lee Ingleby. 2 x 60min
Scripted by award-winning writer Paula Milne (Small Island, The Fragile Heart), White Heat concerns seven characters who share a student flat in London in 1965. The serial explores their interwoven lives, loves and betrayals, set against the social and political backcloth of Wilson through Thatcher, via feminism, hedonism, union strife, the Falklands and HIV to the present day. It explores how our lives are shaped by the choices we make, which are governed by the opportunities society affords us. Plus a Q&A with Paula Milne and cast, chaired by BBC Controller of Drama, Ben Stephenson.

Fri 17 Feb 18:40 NFT3: The Wednesday Play: Auto Stop
BBC 1965. Dir Brian Parker. With David Hemmings, Delphi Lawrence. 75min
Most of the single plays rediscovered at the Library of Congress last year were classical costume dramas, but there were also a couple of contemporary works, one of which was this ambitious Wednesday Play (produced by James McTaggart) in which a grand tour of Europe is recreated in the studio courtesy of the ingenuity of designer Eileen Diss. Auto Stop is a sexually frank tale (written by Alan Seymour) of a young man’s infatuation with an older woman. The play was screened in the US in January 1968, by which time Hemmings was a major star thanks to Antonioni’s Blow-Up.

For 15 years (from 1969-84) Nationwide dominated the early evening BBC schedules. The premise of the current affairs show was simple but very effective: use the various regional centres of the BBC to provide short filmed items and live studio contributions that would not only resonate locally but would also help build a snapshot of the nation at thattime. From hours of material safely lodged at the BFI National Archive, we will present a compilation highlighting the many moods and tones of the regional contributions, and also look at how the big national stories were seen from different regional points of view. This screening will be followed by an on-stage interview with Michael Barratt, long time helmsman for the show, who will share his memories and give us the behind-the-scenes story of putting together Nationwide.

Wed 22 Feb 18:10 NFT3: Part 1: Snapshots of a Nation
Memorable moments, oddities and rarities from the Nationwide archives.

Wed 22 Feb 20:30 NFT3: Part 2: Michael Barratt in Conversation
Sharing his memory of fronting Nationwide.

Joint ticket available £13.75, concs £10.25 (Members pay £1.50 less)

Champions’ priority booking: 11.30am January 5
Members’ priority booking opens: 11.30am January 6
Public booking opens: January 13

£8.50 (members)
£5.25 (member concs)
£10.00 (non-members)
£6.75 (non-members concs)
Under 16s £5.00.

All shows are £5 on Tuesdays. Conc prices are available to senior citizens, students, unwaged and disability visitors. Proof of eligibility may be required.

Tickets for the Dickens sessions are £10, concs £6.75, with members paying £1.50 less. A joint ticket for all three Dickens sessions is £20.75, concs £13.75, with members paying £1.50 less.

As always, visit the BFI web site for more details.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.