May 2012 at the BFI

Time for our regular look at the TV that the BFI is showing, this time in the month of May 2012. As well as a season of plays by Peter Terson, there’s a preview of Faster, Higher, Stronger, a documentary on the 1500m; a complete showing of The Roads To Freedom; and a preview of Tales of Television Centre, which features all manner of former BBC stars, including a bunch of people from Doctor Who.

Fri 4 May 18:20 NFT2: Sunday Night Theatre: The Samaritan + Scene: The Ballad of Ben Bagot
Granada 1972. Dir Derek Bennett. With Tom Bell, Kenneth Cranham, Martin Jarvis. 65min
BBC 1973. Dir Ronald Smedley. With Peter Firth, Clare Sutcliffe, Jack Shepherd. 25min
Two plays in the Peter Terson season.

Wed 9 May 18:10 NFT2: The Wednesday Play: The Last Train Through Harecastle Tunnel + Lost Yer Tongue?
BBC 1969. Dir Alan Clarke. With John LeMesurier, Angela Pleasence, Richard O’Callaghan. 80min
Granada 1975. Dir Mike Newell. With Ronald Herdman, Robbie Pattinson, Lizzie McKenzie, Deirdre Costello. 52min

Two plays in the Peter Terson season.

Sat 12 May 15:00 NFT2: The Roads To Freedom – Parts 1-3: The Age of Reason
Sat 12 May 17:50 NFT2: The Roads To Freedom – Parts 4-6: The Age of Reason
Sun 13 May 15:15 NFT2: The Roads To Freedom – Parts 7-9: The Reprieve
Sun 13 May 18:20 NFT2: The Roads To Freedom – Parts 10-11: The Defeated
Sun 13 May 20:40 NFT2: The Roads To Freedom – Parts 12-13: The Defeated
BBC 1970. Dir James Cellan Jones. With Michael Bryant, Daniel Massey, Georgia Brown, Rosemary Leach, Anthony Higgins. 13 x 45min
We are delighted to present a very rare complete screening of this remarkable series following the immense interest generated by the screening of episodes 7,8 and 9 in the season dedicated to the director James Cellan Jones last year. Brilliantly adapted from the novels by Sartre, with writer David Turner managing to capture the complexity and subtle psychological and philosophical twists in the life of Mathieu (Michael Bryant) and his shifting feelings of commitment and alienation as Europe is plunged in to the chaos of war. Nominated for four BAFTAs (Best Writer, Best Production and Best Actor and Actress), the series remains one of the crowning achievements of British television drama.
Tickets: £5 (no concs) per screening; joint ticket for all screenings: £21.20 (concs £13.75). Members pay £1.50 less.

Mon 14 May 18.15 NFT1: TV Preview + Discussion: Faster, Higher, Stronger: The Ultimate Race
BBC 2012. Dir Francis Welch. 60min
With the Games coming to London this summer, this new documentary tells the story of the 1500m – the Blue Riband event of any Olympics. The Ultimate Race reveals how the 1500m was the platform for the most famous chapter in British athletics history. In the 1980 and 1984 Games, three British runners – Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram – battled it out for Olympic Gold in dramatic races that gripped the nation. Part of the new BBC2 series Faster, Higher, Stronger, the film uses rarely-seen Olympic archive material to show how these British athletes are also part of a global tradition. Since the modern Games began in 1896 the 1500m has always attracted the most creative, innovative and exceptional athletes from unexpected corners of the world, from the ‘Flying Finns’ of the 1920s to today’s African high-altitude champions. These runners devised groundbreaking training regimes, pushed human endurance to the limit, and emerged with an unquenchable will to win this most demanding Olympic event. Shot in Kenya, Morocco, Finland, Australia and the UK, the film features new interviews with Olympic 1500m champions including Sebastian Coe, Hicham El Guerrouj, Kipchoge Keino, Peter Rono, Peter Snell and Herb Elliott. The screening will be followed by onstage discussion with the filmmakers and some of Britain’s past Olympians

Tue 15 May 18:10 NFT3: TV Preview: Tales of Television Centre
BBC 2012. Dir Richard Marson. 90min

We are delighted to preview this new feature-length documentary telling the story of one of Britain’s most iconic buildings as the BBC prepares to leave it. The story is told by both staff and stars, among them Sir David Frost, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Joan Bakewell, Jeremy Paxman, Sir Terry Wogan, Esther Rantzen, Angela Rippon, Biddy Baxter, Edward Barnes, Sarah Greene, Waris Hussein, Judith Hann, Maggie Philbin, John Craven, Zoe and Johnny Ball and much loved faces from Pan’s People (Babs, Dee Dee and Ruth) and Dr Who (Katy Manning, Louise Jameson and Janet Fielding). As well as a wealth of anecdotes and revelations, there is a rich variety of memorable, rarely seen (and in some cases newly recovered) archive material, including moments from studio recordings of classic programmes like Vanity Fair, Till Death Us Do Part, Top of the Pops and Dr Who, plus a host of vintage behind- the-scenes footage offering a compelling glimpse into this wonderful and eccentric studio complex – home to so many of the most celebrated programmes in British TV history. Introduced by producer-director Richard Marson.

Wed 16 May 18:00: NFT3: Play for Today: The Fishing Party + Discussion Panel & Q&A
BBC 1972. Dir Michael Simpson. 57min
A play in the Peter Terson season, followed by a discussion of Terson’s work with producer David Rose, actor Kenneth Cranham (work permitting) and writer Shane Connaughton.

Wed 16 May 20:30 NFT3: Play For Today: Shakespeare or Bust + Three for the Fancy
BBC 1973. Dir Brian Parker. With Brian Glover, Ray Mort, Douglas Livingstone. 70min
BBC 1974. Dir Matthew Robinson. With Brian Glover, Ray Mort, Douglas Livingstone. 52min

Two plays in the Peter Terson season, featuring the characters from The Fishing Party.

Tue 22 May 18:20 NFT3: Village Hall: Dancing in the Dark + The Rough and the Smooth
Granada 1974. Dir Alan Gibson. With Michael Latimer, John Fraser, Mary Morris, Gordon Reid. 52min
Granada 1975. Dir Alan Gibson. With Trevor Adams, Kenneth Cranham, Jan Francis, Christopher Guard. 52min

Two plays in the Peter Terson season.

Wed 23 May 18:15 NFT2: UnLOCked: Twelfth Night
ITV 1959. Dir Roger Jenkins & Peter Robinson. 85min

Made by Associated Rediffusion Schools Programming, this production first aired across nine parts, bookended by detailed analysis of various aspects of the play. This version features the play’s sections edited together for retransmission on American TV. The fine cast includes George A Cooper (as Sir Toby Belch) and such well known names as Peter Vaughan, Bernard Horsfall, Prunella Scales, Geoffrey Bayldon and Gillian Rayne.

Mon 28 May 21:00 NFT2: But Fred, Freud is Dead + The Playwrights: Peter Terson
Granada 1973. Dir Derek Bennett. With David Swift, Pat Heywood, Colin Farrell. 64min
Thames 1976. Dir Gabrielle Beaumont
A play in the Peter Terson season followed by a documentary in which Terson is interviewed.

Champions’ priority booking: 11.30am April 2
Members’ priority booking opens: 11.30am April 3
Public booking opens: April 10

£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.

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


  • 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.