What TV’s on at the BFI in May? Including Victorian Sensations and Afternoon of a Nymph


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

As is traditional in the month following a BFI/Radio Times TV festival, there are pretty slim pickings for TV viewing at the BFI this May.

But there are a few things at least. There’s a preview of BBC Four’s forthcoming Victorian Sensations, which looks at the ‘thrilling era of the 1890s’. There’s a tribute to the rather talented Philip Saville that will include a showing of Armchair Theatre‘s Afternoon of a Nymph. And best of all, there’s a talk about Smallfilms and how it created Clangers, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, and Bagpuss.


Thursday 9 May

18:15 NFT3
TV Preview: Victorian Sensations + Q&A with exec producer Sebastian Barfield, series producer Helen Nixon, presenter Philippa Perry and BFI curator Bryony Dixon
BBC Four 2019. Clips from Eps 1&2 + complete Ep3: TRT 110min

Victorian Sensations transports us to the thrilling era of the 1890s, a decade of rapid and often bewildering discovery and change, which continues to resonate today. In their respective films, mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, actor Paul McGann and psychotherapist Philippa Perry explore the technology, art and culture of the last years of Queen Victoria’s reign. Drawing extensively on the newly available BFI National Archive collection of Victorian films, the series reveals a Britain bewitched by electricity and x-rays, a time when decadence and artistic genius went hand in hand and when a mass-media revolution encompassed the dawn of cinema – and some very Victorian fake-news scandals.

Monday 20 May

18:30 BFI Reuben Library
Smallfilms with Chris Pallant
TRT 75min

Smallfilms produced some of the most fondly remembered and revisited animated works for TV including Clangers, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, and Bagpuss. This talk will provide a unique insight into the creation of these works and will cast a spotlight on the studio’s archives. This event is based on preliminary research findings that have been generated as part of a Leverhulme Trust-funded research project focussed on Smallfilms.

Tickets £6.50

Thursday 23 May

18:20 NFT3
Philip Saville: An Enduring Talent
Armchair Theatre: Afternoon of a Nymph + discussion
ITV 1962. Dir Philip Saville. With Janet Munro, Ian Hendry. 90min

Philip Saville, who died in 2016, was a constantly inventive director whose list of credits includes some of the greatest British TV productions ever seen, including Hamlet at Elsinore, Boys from the Blackstuff, Gangsters, The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil and Count Dracula. Fortunately, before he died he had delivered his memoirs, and we celebrate their publication with a screening of Afternoon of a Nymph – a pitch-perfect showbiz satire by Robert Muller, a writer with whom Saville often collaborated. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion (illustrated with clips) looking back at Philip Saville’s extraordinary career.

The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil screens next month at BFI Southbank

Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: Monday 1 April from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: Tuesday 2 April from 11.30am
Public booking opens: Tuesday 9 April 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.


  • Rob Buckley

    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.

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