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‘Drama for people ‘in the know’: Television World Theatre (BBC 1957-59) and Festival (BBC 1963-64)

Smart, B. (2017) ‘Drama for people ‘in the know’: Television World Theatre (BBC 1957-59) and Festival (BBC 1963-64). Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 37 (1). pp. 34-48. ISSN 0143-9685

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01439685.2016.1272810


This article provides a survey of the pioneering BBC series of theatrical adaptations Television World Theatre (1957-59), examining BBC production documentation and audience research to identify the institutional discourses that surrounded the making and transmission of these programmes. Recurrent arguments throughout the production of the series form a framework of institutional expectations within which classic theatrical plays were commissioned, made and presented for BBC Television. Having identified these questions (as to audience address, populism, the viability of creating a unified ‘house style’ across the diverse plays included in an anthology series) their discussion in contemporary press discourse surrounding Television World Theatre is considered, before concluding with a consideration of how the experience of Television World Theatre affected expectations the next time that the BBC attempted a similar project in Festival (1963-4).

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:71900
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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