What TV’s on at the BFI in August 2013

It’s time for our regular look at the TV that the BFI is showing, this time in the month of August 2013. This month, the Doctor Who celebrations leap to the ninth Doctor – the eighth Doctor will see his own celebrations in September – with a showing of his last two episodes Bad Wolf and Parting of the Ways:

But there’s also a Patrick McGoohan season – when I’m on holiday, of course – as well as a preview of Cillian Murphy’s first major TV role, BBC2’s Peaky Blinders, and an ITV ‘Missing Believed Wiped’.

Fri 2 Aug 18:20 NFT2: Missing Believed Wiped: Saturday Spectacular: The Jo Stafford Show
Total Running Time 50min + various extracts
Recently recovered footage from ITV.

Wed 7 Aug 18:15 NFT1: Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner: Oddities and Rarities
Total Running Time c100min
We present a bespoke compilation of rare and precious footage relating to The Prisoner and the wider world of McGoohan’s career. The Prisoner was a defining moment in 1960s television, originating in Britain but delivering a truly global impact. Baffling, daring but always entertaining, it virtually kick-started the continuing obsession with certain cult television titles as fans round the world entered into heated discussions about the meaning behind its surreal complexity.

Thu 8 Aug 18:30 NFT2: BBC Television World Theatre: Brand
BBC 1959. Dir Michael Elliott. With Patrick Wymark, Peter Sallis. 90min
McGoohan’s great stage success was (thankfully) filmed by the BBC. Ibsen’s powerful play about a single-minded firebrand priest and his impact on those around him played perfectly to McGoohan’s trademarks strengths: brooding intensity, vibrant physicality and almost overwhelming stage presence. Simple sets and basic filming techniques ensure the eye is taken by the tour-de-force performances.

Tue 13 Aug 18:20 NFT3: Armchair Theatre: The Man Out There
ITV 1961. Dir Charles Jarrott. With Katherine Blake. 50min
Airing a month before Yuri Gagarin did the real thing, this play starred McGoohan as a Russian cosmonaut stranded in space whose only contact – due to freak sun spot activity – is with a Canadian trapper’s wife cut off in a blizzard. This tense Armchair Theatre play is a prime example of how an actor of McGoohan’s capabilities adapted to the one-off studio dramas of 1950s and 1960s.
+ Rendezvous: The Executioner
ITV 1961. Dir Pat Jackson. With Michael Gough. 50min

Shades of Danger Man in this episode from the filmed anthology series. McGoohan plays a lawyer investigating the death of an old friend from the days of the French Resistance. Giving a typically powerful performance, McGoohan guest stars in a series that featured different leads for every story.

Fri 16 Aug 18:30 NFT2: Danger Man: The Lonely Chair
ITV 1960. Dir Charles Frend. With Hazel Court, Patrick Troughton. 25min
+ Danger Man: A Date with Doris
ITV 1964. Dir Quentin Lawrence. With Jane Merrow, Ronald Radd. 50min
Relating the exploits of a globetrotting security agent, Danger Man made McGoohan a household name and (at the time) the highest paid actor on British television. These two episodes, one from the earlier half-hour series and one from the later hour-long seasons, neatly encapsulate the changing styles and strengths of the show.

Wed 21 Aug 18:15 NFT1: TV preview: Peaky Blinders + Q&A
Episode 1. BBC2. Dir Otto Bathurst. With Cillian Murphy, Sam Neil, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Charlie Creed-Mlles. 60min
Created by Steven Knight, an epic gangster series with Cillian Murphy set in Birmingham in the 1920s.

Sat 24 Aug 14:00 NFT1: Doctor Who: Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways + Q&A
BBC 2005. Dir Joe Ahearne. With Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, John Barrowman. 90min
The last two ninth Doctor stories.

Fri 30 Aug 18:10 NFT3: The Best of Friends
C4 1991. With John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller. 100min
One of McGoohan’s best late-period roles was as fellow Irishman George Bernard Shaw in this TV movie adapted from letters and journals, which portrays the unique 25-year friendship shared by Shaw, Benedictine nun Dame Laurentia McLachlan and museum curator Sir Sydney Cockerell.

Champions’ priority booking: 11.30am July 1
Members’ priority booking opens: 11.30am July 2
Public booking opens: July 9

£9.50 (members)
£7.00 (member concs)
£11.00 (non-members)
£7.50 (non-members concs)
Under 16s £6.00.

All shows are £6 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.