It would, of course, be a mistake to think that only UK TV channels were regularly airing high-quality plays back in the golden age of TV. No, no, no. In fact, the US airwaves were brimming with ‘anthology’ shows – the most obvious were, of course, the likes of genre shows such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits but possibly the most famous and influential source of straight dramatic anthology shows was Studio One, which started on radio in 1947 before transitioning to TV in 1948. Going through a number of titles between 1948 and its eventual cancellation in 1958, including Summer Theatre and Westinghouse Studio One, the series racked up 466 individual plays, many of which are famous to this day.
Probably the most famous since it was adapted in 1957 as a film starring Henry Fonda that went on win three Oscars was Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men. Staged as a live drama on 20 September 1954, the original Studio One in Hollywood episode itself won three Emmys. It relates how a jury deliberates on an apparent open-and-shut case. Except one of the jurors isn’t convinced and he tries to persuade the others of the accused’s innocence. It’s a rivetting, one-room character piece and now’s your chance to watch the original. Enjoy!