What TV’s on at the BFI in August? Including the rest of the Harold Pinter season, Langrishe Go Down, Bodyguard and Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry

David Budd (RICHARD MADDEN), Julia Montague (KEELEY HAWES) in Bodyguard - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Des Willie

Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

Not as jam-packed as July thanks to the summer holidays, August at the BFI still has a lot to offer. The Harold Pinter season continues on from last month, but there’s also two ‘Missing Believed Wiped’ sessions, celebrations of puppeteers Ivor Wood and Ray Harryhausen and previews of the forthcoming Bodyguard and Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry, complete with Q&As with cast and crew.

That’s after this week’s weekly play, Langrishe Go Down. Originally conceived for the cinema, and based on a novel by Aidan Higgins, this is a classic Harold Pinter work about passion, politics and class: in particular it shows his preoccupation with time and memory. Set on a run-down Irish estate, and cutting between the late and early 1930s, it charts a summer-long affair between a gentrified country girl and an exploitative Bavarian student. The cast is superb and the atmosphere distinctly Chekhovian.

No, I’ve not watched it. Yes, I have just copied and pasted that from the BFI guide. But I’m sure it’s great.


Thursday 2 August

17:50 NFT2
The Largest Theatre in the World: Tea Party
BBC 1965. Dir Charles Jarrott. With Leo McKern, Vivien Merchant, John Le Mesurier. 75min

This intriguing TV play charts  the breakdown of a rich, self-made sanitary engineer who ends up insecure, paranoid, virtually sightless and prey to lurid fantasies. Jarrott’s direction includes sweeping Wellesian tracking-shots, and the scenes between McKern and Merchant crackle with sexual tension.

+ Theatre 625: The Basement
BBC 1967. Dir Charles Jarrott. With Derek Godfrey, Harold Pinter, Kika Markham. 52min

The owner of a basement retreat finds his territory threatened by a visitor whose female partner has a disruptive effect on both men. All the familiar Pinter themes are there: a room, male insecurity, sexual rivalry. But what gives the piece an extra edge is the use of the camera to switch between objective reality and subjective fantasy, and Pinter’s own darkly brooding presence as the space invader.

Friday 3 August

20:45 NFT3
Old Times
Performance, BBC 1991. Dir Simon Curtis. With John Malkovich, Kate Nelligan, Miranda Richardson. 78min

Pinter’s 1971 stage play makes perfect television in that it combines an intimate power-battle with a hallucinatory framework. On one level, we watch a verbal, physical and musical battle between a successful filmmaker (Malkovich) and a house-guest (Richardson) over possession of the former’s wife (Nelligan). But the play also shows all three characters re-creating the past according to the psychological and tactical needs of the moment.

+ Monologue
BBC 1973. Dir Christopher Morahan. With Henry Woolf. 20min

A neglected Pinter piece in which a man, who has no name or fixed identity, converses with an empty chair. But the pathos of the work stems from the fact that the speaker, trapped in a static present, feeds off a vividly imagined past. Performed by one of Pinter’s own oldest friends, the piece gains extra resonance from Morahan’s use of the speaker’s reverse image. Could he simply be communing with his other self?

Saturday 4 August

18:30 NFT3
Play of the Week: Langrishe Go Down
BBC 1978. Dir David Jones. With Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, Annette Crosbie, Harold Pinter. 110min

Originally conceived for the cinema, and based on a novel by Aidan Higgins, this is a classic Pinter work about passion, politics and class: in particular it shows his preoccupation with time and memory. Set on a run-down Irish estate, and cutting between the late and early 1930s, it charts a summer-long affair between a gentrified country girl and an exploitative Bavarian student. The cast is superb and the atmosphere distinctly Chekhovian.

Monday 6 August

18:30 NFT1
TV Preview: Bodyguard + Q&A with creator, writer, and executive producer Jed Mercurio, plus actors Keeley Hawes and Richard Madden
BBC One-World Productions 2018. Dir Thomas Vincent. With Richard Madden, Keeley Hawes, Gina McKee, Sophie Rundle. Ep1 60min

From the makers of Line of Duty, new six-part series Bodyguard tells the fictional story of David Budd (Madden), a heroic but volatile war veteran now working for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. When he’s assigned to protect the ambitious and powerful Home Secretary Julia Montague (Hawes), Budd finds himself torn between his duty and his beliefs. Responsible for her safety, could he become her biggest threat?

Thursday 9 August

18:15 NFT3
TV Preview: Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry + Q&A with presenter Anita Rani plus guests
BBC Two-Raw Television 2018. Dir Chris Parkin. Ep1 60min

In an access-all-areas series for BBC Two Anita Rani explores Bollywood, an extraordinary world that she, like many British Asians, grew up feasting on. She goes on set to meet her big-screen idols and discovers how an industry based on tradition is racing to keep up with changing tastes. Part of the BBC’s Big British Asian Summer, a new season of programmes in August showcasing the stories of British Asians in all their richness and complexity.

Saturday 11 August

13:00 NFT1
Missing Believed Wiped Session 1 – Medico
BBC 1959. Dir David E Rose. With Meredith Edwards, Edward Cast, Trevor Martin. 45min

A drama-documentary highlighting the work of the Post Office coast stations, who monitor distress calls from ships. Long thought lost, this TV movie was recovered by Kaleidoscope from the RNLI.

+ Ivor the Engine: Mr Brangwyn’s Box
ITV 1963. Dir Oliver Postgate. 5min

The timeless and charming animated classic from Smallfilms. Plus a surprise selection of clips and guests
Joint ticket available with session two £15, concs £12 (Members pay £2 less)

15:30 NFT1
Missing Believed Wiped Session 2 The Pearl in the Oyster: 30 years of finding lost television

Illustrated with plenty of clips from previously lost TV shows, Kaleidoscope’s work alongside the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped, the BBC Treasure Hunt and ITV’s Raiders of the Lost Archives will be examined.

+ Pipkins: Snapshots + intro by Hartley Hare
ITV 1980. Dir Michael Jeans. With the voices of Sue Nicholls, Nigel Plaskitt, Lorain Bertorelli. 15min

This children’s favourite will be introduced today by Hartley Hare himself, aided and abetted by his handler Nigel Plaskitt.

Sunday 19 August

15:00 NFT3
Harold Pinter: Art, Truth & Politics
Illuminations, Channel 4 2005. 46min

A recording of the lecture given by Pinter on receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although he was seriously ill at the time, Pinter offers rare reflections on his working methods and the elusiveness of dramatic truth, while excoriating the tapestry of lies woven by many western governments.

+ Pinter’s Politics: a panel discussion with documentary activist John Pilger, director Jamie Lloyd and cast TBA, chaired by Michael Billington

A discussion and Q&A on the development of Pinter’s political passion, and his concern over the debasement of language and how this has manifested itself in his plays. Theatre director Jamie Lloyd will talk about his upcoming revival of one of Pinter’s most overtly political plays, One for the Road, and will be joined by some of its cast.

17:30 NFT3
Summer Season: One For The Road
BBC 1985. Dir Kenneth Ives. With Alan Bates, Roger Lloyd Pack, Rosie Kerslake. 30min

One of Pinter’s most potent political plays, in which a dictatorial official, in an unnamed country, confronts three imprisoned members of a single family.

+ Mountain Language
BBC 1988. Dir Harold Pinter. With Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson. 22min

Inspired by a visit to Turkey and Pinter’s experience of the suppression of the Kurdish language, this short, sharp shock of a play explores the increasing intolerance of dissent.

Party Time
Without Walls, Channel 4 1991. Dir Harold Pinter. With Barry Foster, Nicola Pagett. 34min

A witty portrayal of the not-so-discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, in which Pinter exposes a hermetic society’s indifference to the erosion of civil liberties.

+ Celebration
Channel 4 2006. Dir John Crowley. With Michael Gambon, Colin Firth, Julia McKenzie. Janie Dee. 42min

Pinter’s last play, and one of his funniest, satirises the coarseness, crudity and vulgar materialism of two sets of diners at a posh London restaurant.

Sunday 26 August

13:00 NFT3
Ivor Wood: A Celebration
c.90min. Suitable for all ages

Take a trip down memory lane as we explore the iconic work of a master of British children’s TV. Ivor Wood brought to life beloved characters such as Postman Pat and Charlie Chalk and was the designer and animator behind The Wombles, The Magic Roundabout and Paddington Bear. For this special event we will be joined by Wood’s son Sean, and expert Joseph Wallace – so come along to explore the work of this great animator-director with the people who knew him best.

15:00 NFT3
The Man Who Makes Monsters
ITV 1970. Dir William Cartner. 30min

A charming, informal, clip-heavy interview with Ray Harryhausen about his illustrious career and his then-latest movie The Valley of Gwangi.

Monday 27 August

20:05 NFT3
Performance: Landscape
BBC 1995. Dir Harold Pinter. With Ian Holm, Penelope Wilton. 40min

Pinter’s study of physical nearness and emotional separation is played to perfection by Holm and Wilton. A man desperately tries to get through to his wife, who has calculatedly retreated into her own private world – he becomes a tragic figure craving absolution while she is a still, cool figure implacably anchored in the past.

+ No Man’s Land
ITV 1978. Dir Julian Amyes. With Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud, Michael Kitchen, Terence Rigby. 90min

An immaculate record of Peter Hall’s original 1975 National Theatre production about a down-at-heel poet’s invasion of a successful writer’s bleakly ordered, booze-filled world. This mysteriously poetic work about people trapped in a limbo between life and death enshrines two standout performances: Gielgud, with his baggy, pin-striped suit and beer belly, suggests a dilapidated WH Auden, while Richardson is all crumbling creativity.

Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: Monday 2 July from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: Tuesday 3 July from 11.30am
Public booking opens: Tuesday 10 July from 11.30am


Members: £9.50
Member concs: £7.20
Non-members: £11.50
Non-member concs: £9.20
Under 16s: £6

Reduced prices for weekday matinees. Concessionary 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.