What TV’s on at the BFI in February? Including Logopolis, Traitors, Bill Hicks and Forgotten Black TV

Sammy Davis Jr

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

After January’s sluggish start, the BFI is kicking things up a notch for February. The centrepiece is a season of forgotten black TV plays – expect lots of Don Warrington as well as Sammy Davis Jr – but there’s also a preview of the Channel 4/Netflix spy drama Traitors that’s followed by a Q&A with star Keeley Hawes, a Bill Hicks event and an airing of Doctor Who story Logopolis to coincide with its Blu-Ray release. All that after the jump…


Monday 4 February

11:00 NFT1
Seniors’ Free Talk: I Heard It Through the Grapevine + intro and Q&A
ATV 1981. Dirs Dick Fontaine, Pat Hartley. 95min

Produced by Dick Fontaine and Pat Hartley, this highly personal essay film written by author and social commentator James Baldwin is about exactly who and what survived the Civil Rights Movement. It features not just Baldwin himself but his brother David, Chinua Achebe, Amiri Baraka and many other notable friends Baldwin made on that long, long road through the 1960s.
Free for over-60s (booking by phone or in person only), otherwise normal matinee price

18:10 NFT3
Just Like Mohicans + Q&A with screenwriters Trix Worrell, Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan, Marlon Smith and Stephen Bourne, and actor Susan Wokoma (work permitting), chaired by broadcaster Brenda Emmanus
Channel 4-Holmes Associates 1985. Dir Faith Isiakpere. With Mona Hammond, Gary Beadle, David Doyle, John Fowler. 40min

Trix Worrell won Channel 4’s Debut ’84 prize for best script with this compelling story of a black youth thrown into a conflict of loyalties when he teams up with two white friends and breaks into the home of a feisty black elderly woman. The screening will be followed  by a panel discussion examining what the fantastic plays in the season can teach us about black drama, and what opportunities lie ahead for black creatives and writers in a modern digital landscape. With thanks to Holmes Associates for this BFI restoration

Thursday 7 February

18:00 NFT1
TV Preview: Traitors + Q&A with creator Bash Doran and actor Keeley Hawes
Twenty Twenty Productions-42-Channel 4-Netflix 2019. Dir Dearbhla Walsh. With Emma Appleton, Keeley Hawes, Michael Stuhlbarg, Luke Treadaway, Brandon P Bell. Eps 1 & 2, 92min + Q&A

Join us for a special preview of a compulsive spy thriller that takes us behind the scenes of a seismic moment in global history, through the eyes of one young woman caught in the middle of it. An intimate epic set in 1945 London, Traitors is the dangerous, enthralling story of Feef, who is seduced by a rogue CIA agent into spying on her own country. Her task? To uncover Russian penetration in the heart of the British Government.
Please visit bfi.org.uk for updates on additional guests

Sunday 10 February

Drama ’61: The Big Pride
ITV 1961. Dir Herbert Wise. With William Marshall, Johnny Sekka, Barbara Assoon, Nadia Cattouse. 60min

In Jan Carew and Sylvia Wynter’s gripping drama, three Guyanese jail breakers escape, not only from the law, but from the harsh realities of their pasts.

+ Drama ’61: The Day of the Fox. ITV 1961. Dir Herbert Wise.
With Sammy Davis Jr, Zia Mohyeddin, Joseph O’Conor, Yolanda. 60min

In Jan Carew’s explosive drama, Sammy Davis Jr gives a memorable performance as a proud but disillusioned revolutionary who aims to destroy the remnants of white colonial rule in a new African nation. The political themes explored remain incredibly prescient.

Monday 11 February

18:00 NFT2
Second City Firsts: Club Havana + intro by season co-curator Lez Cooke, producer Tara Prem, script editor Peter Ansorge and actor Don Warrington (work permitting)
BBC 1975. Dir Pam Brighton. With Don Warrington, Mona Hammond, Julie Walters, Alfred Fagon. 30min

After 12 years away, Mrs Jordan’s son arrives in Birmingham from Jamaica. Writer Barry Reckord returns to the theme of an interracial relationship which causes conflict within a Jamaican family. This print has been reconstructed from the surviving unedited studio footage by Simon Coward, Research Manager, Kaleidoscope

+ Play of the Week: You in Your Small Corner 
ITV 1962. Dir Claude Whatham. With Lloyd Reckord, Elizabeth MacLennan, Charles Hyatt, Ida Shepley. 82min

Barry Reckord adapted his stage play for TV and his brother Lloyd plays the central character – a Jamaican new to London. When he begins a relationship with a white woman
(MacLennan), he finds himself in conflict with his mother (Shepley), who has great expectations for him. The very early intimate portrayal of this interracial relationship broke new ground.

Friday 15 February

18:00 NFT3
Centre Play: The Museum Attendant + intro by season co-curator Stephen Bourne
BBC 1973. Dir Derek Bennett. With Horace James, Tony Selby, Kwesi Kay. 32min

Michael Abbensetts’ first play for TV is a powerful, funny and shocking exposé of the racism faced by a black museum attendant in his place of work.

+ The Light of Experience
BBC 1983. 15min

Perfectly setting up the background to her Crown Court drama, The Ju-Ju Landlord, Buchi Emecheta talks about her life as a Nigerian writer who made her home in Britain.

+ Crown Court: The Ju-Ju Landlord
ITV 1976. Dir Stephen Butcher. With Taiwo Ajai, Thomas Baptiste, Suzanne Stone, Louis Mahoney. Eps 1-3 TRT 75min

Buchi Emecheta draws on personal experience for this drama about a young Nigerian mother who flees her husband and finds refuge in the house of a fellow countryman. When her landlord wants her out, he finds himself in the dock charged with harassment.

Sunday 17 February

13:00 NFT1
Doctor Who: Logopolis
UK 1981. Dir Peter Grimwade. With Tom Baker, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse. 90min. Digital. Courtesy of BBC Studios

‘It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for’… The Doctor has heard the ominous chime of the cloister bell, and his attempts to keep a low profile backfire when he finds himself in the middle of another manipulation by The Master. It’s the moment that 1980s Doctor Who fans around the planet thought would never happen, as the fourth Doctor lays down at last and regenerates. This version contains some updated visual effects.
Tickets £15, concs £12 (Members pay £2 less) Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 18 is released on Blu-ray on Mon 25 Feb

Saturday 23 February

20:30 NFT2
Against the Crowd: Carbon Copy
ITV 1975. Dir Piers Haggard. With Don Warrington, Nadia Cattouse, Cleo Sylvestre, Judy Campbell. 60min

In Howard Schuman’s contribution to the Against the Crowd series, Jamaican Albert Sharpe II (Warrington) is no longer at ease with the cultured white family who have virtually adopted him.

+ Open Door: Black Feet in the Snow 
BBC 1974. Dir Brian Skilton. With Shango Baku. 55min

Written and narrated by Jamal Ali, this impressionistic, innovative drama shows how Britain –  ‘The Promised Land’ – offered only frustration and rejection to Caribbean settlers in the 1950s.

Monday 25 February

18:15 NFT3
The Hope and the Glory
BBC 1984. Dir Graeme Harper. With Rudolph Walker, Maurice Denham, Carmen Munroe. 60min

Sam (Walker) is a quiet London Transport worker who prefers studying law in the evenings to socialising, until he meets Joe (Denham), a lonely elderly neighbour. But their growing friendship is tested when Joe takes Sam along to his local club. Caryl Phillips’ poignant drama is a masterpiece of understated writing.

+ Here and Now on Four: Nice
Channel 4-Central TV 1984. Dir Michael Hayes. With Norman Beaton. 26min

In Mustapha Matura’s acerbic and offbeat dramatic monologue, the charismatic Norman Beaton is outstanding as a well-mannered man who’s tested to the limit as he struggles to come to terms with life in the ‘Mother Country.’

Tuesday 26 February

20:40 NFT3
The Late Bill Hicks: Live Bill Hicks – Revelations
Channel 4 1993. Dir Chris Bould. 50min +other performances and clips (c.40min)

Bill Hicks was a groundbreaking American stand-up star, revered in the UK even more than in his homeland. Twenty-five years on from his premature death in 1994, we pay tribute to the man who both angered and inspired with his blistering, machine-gun commentaries on life’s social and political conflicts. Join us for a screening of Revelations filmed at London’s Dominion Theatre, along with rarely seen clips of other performances.

Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: Monday 7 January from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: Tuesday 8 January from 11.30am
Public booking opens: Tuesday 15 January from 11.30am


Members: £10.50
Member concs: £8.20
Non-members: £12.50
Non-member concs: £10.20
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.


  • 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.