Here we are, January barely even begun, yet we’re now looking at what the BFI is planning on showing in February. Phew. Hold on tight – 2017’s going to be speedy, everyone.
February’s TV season will probably seem to go by quickly, too, since it’s exclusively dedicated to ‘Forgotten Dramas’ – a range of little-known TV dramas. Basically, ones people have forgotten about but deserve to be known better, such as Rudolph Cartier’s last directorial project Loyalties, John McGrath’s experimental The Day of Ragnarok and Arthur Hopcraft’s gritty political piece The Nearly Man, which inspired a subsequent TV series.
It’s curated by Lez Cooke, John Hill and Billy Smart as part of Royal Holloway’s project The History of Forgotten Television Drama in the UK, so an extra bonus is a TV conference on Wednesday 22nd February all about TV archives, access and research.
All that and more after the jump. No videos, I’m afraid, because, you know, they’re forgotten dramas. If there were videos, they probably wouldn’t be forgotten.
Thursday 2nd February
Sunday Night Theatre: The Hotel in Amsterdam + discussion with actor Susan Engel and playwright Nicholas Wright (all work permitting)
ATV 1971. Dir Anthony Page. With Paul Scofield, Jill Bennett, Michael Craig, Susan Engel, David Burke. 75min
Six successful but jaded friends in the film business do a runner from work, stay in a luxurious Amsterdam hotel, and loosen their tongues. This forgotten version of a modern classic play from the Royal Court theatre, featuring most of the original cast, has been unseen since 1971. The play was adapted for television by John Osborne at the request of Paul Scofield, who wanted one of his most mesmerising performances to be recorded for posterity.
Wednesday 8th February
The Passionate Pilgrim + intro by Dr Lez Cooke
BBC 1953. Dir Michael Barry. With Rachel Gurney, Patrick Troughton. 100min
The stage play of The Passionate Pilgrim had already proved its worth in 1949, and this adaptation is one of the earliest surviving television plays – broadcast just two days after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and unseen since. The Passionate Pilgrim tells the story of a group of nurses working with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War.
Friday 10th February
City ‘68: It’s Dearer After Midnight + intro by Dr Lez Cooke
Granada 1968. Dir Michael Apted. With Keith Barron, Sian Phillips. 50min
City ‘68 was an anthology series about a fictional Northern city. Devised by John Finch, who also wrote this episode, and directed by Michael Apted, this two-hander features Keith Barron as a taxi driver and Sian Phillips as the customer he takes to a strip club in the city.
+ The System: The House That Jigger Built
Granada 1968. Dir Les Chatfield. With Harry H Corbett, Wilfred Pickles, Doris Hare. 50min
Another slice of Northern life by John Finch, this time about property developer Jigger Barrett (Corbett) whose ‘system’ of stashing money in the house leads to a farcical situation when some of it goes missing. Wilfred Pickles plays Jigger’s father who disapproves of his son’s entrepreneurialism.
Monday 13th February
The Nearly Man + intro by Professor John Hill
Granada 1974. Dir John Irvin. With Tony Britton, Michael Elphick. 50min
A contrasting double bill of mid-1970s political dramas from the pioneering ITV company Granada. Arthur Hopcraft’s gritty script, about a Labour politician caught between his Westminster ambitions and the demands of his northern constituency, inspired a subsequent TV series.
+ Late Night Theatre: The Eagle Has Landed
Granada 1973. Dir Colin Cant. With Roland Curram, Weston Gavin, Zoë Wanamaker. 30min
An exuberant and wildly inventive satire on the Apollo Space Programme, written by David Edgar, in which two astronauts ‘drop in’ on an ordinary English family.
Wednesday 22nd February
Television Drama Conference: the Archives, Access and Research
Television drama has been at the centre of cultural life in the UK since the 1950s, yet much of it remains forgotten or inadequately documented. Co-hosted by the Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production at Royal Holloway, University of London (as part of the ‘Forgotten Television Drama’ project), Learning on Screen and the BFI, this event will bring together archivists, broadcasters, academics and enthusiasts to discuss the challenges involved in providing access to our TV history and enhancing its educational, cultural and public value.
The conference will end in time for delegates to attend the screening of the experimental plays and The Day of Ragnarok + Exit 19
Six: The Day of Ragnarok + intro by Dr Lez Cooke and actor Tamara Hinchco
BBC 1965. Dir John McGrath. With Elizabeth MacLennan, Tamara Hinchco, Pauline Boty, Nicol Williamson. 38min
John McGrath’s remarkable short film, made for the experimental BBC2 series Six, is about impending nuclear war. Almost dialogue-free, with a Dudley Moore soundtrack, the film has been especially reconstructed from material surviving in the BBC Archive.
Please note: there is 7min of sound missing
+ Exit 19
BBC 1966. Dir Philip Saville. With Jack Bond, Maureen Safhill. 45min
Made for the follow-up series to Six, this modernist take on the theme of love and marriage features a film editor (Bond) and a model (real-life model Maureen Safhill) talking about their attitudes to sex and marriage in an uninhibited manner. The film also features appearances from Dudley Moore, Jane Arden and Bertrand Russell.
Sunday 26th February
Play of the Month: Loyalties + intro by Dr Billy Smart and (work permitting) actors Edward Fox and Charles Kay
BBC 1976. Dir Rudolph Cartier. With Edward Fox, Charles Kay, John Carson. 100min
During a weekend at a country house in the 1920s, a Jewish outsider accuses a former officer of theft, setting off a tragic chain of events. John Galsworthy’s classic play was the final project directed by pioneering TV director Rudolph Cartier, who made Charles Kay and Edward Fox’s battle of wills a model of elegance and control.
Champions’ priority booking: January 9 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: January 10 11.30am
Public booking opens: January 17 11.30am
Member concs: £7.55
Non-member concs: £9.20
Under 16s £6.00
Reduced prices for weekday matinees. 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.