Television Drama in the 50 s

Way back in 1956 we were treated to some excellent Telvision plays and serials – the BBC particularly excelled in the classic serial – and here we have one ‘David Copperfield’

This would be one of the first such serials and as can be seen and from the picture it would seem that the producers had gone to a great deal of trouble in getting the detail right and selecting a suitable location.

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This scene is from David’s Wedding so quite late on in the story.

The BBC tended to use Studio sets and ‘live’ programmes which required much rehearsal but the advent of Independent TV saw them have a different approach as they mainly used film for their dramas and then broadcast them later – much as they do now although we are now in a digital world.

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After the tremendous success of ‘Robin Hood’ with Richard Greene in the title role, ITV really wanted to capitalise on it’s impact – ‘The Buccaneerswas one such attempt but it did not really cut it.

Looking at the picture above – Don’t you think that the man on the right looks like Nick Cravat it isn’t him apparently – but the more I look the more I think it is him and maybe this picture is wrongly captioned

Also we had ‘Sir Lancelot’ with the later episodes of this being filmed in Colour so they work better when seen today – this series is currently showing on Talking Pictures

Of course there was The Adventure of Willam Tell’ and that was good and exciting but still didn’t live up to ‘Robin Hood’ – but the few such programmes did

Errol Flynn, with his own production company made a series of swashbuckling adventure – half hour tales and he would be well suited to this. Maybe his golden era had passed by but he still retained that charisma and stardust that few of the stars had – he had it in abundance.

ABOVE One of those famous stage productions at the Whitehall Theatre with Brian Rix – the BBC regularly brought one of these to the Television screen direct from the Theatre — this one was ‘Jane Steps Out’ with Ann Firbank (left) seemingly caught in an embarrassing situation by Brian Rix’s wife Elspet Gray – his wife in real life too.

He had the long running ‘Dry Rot’ there which ran successfully for years and I have a feeling that this also was shown on Television direct from the Theatre.

I have often wondered why this has not been done much since although in recent times there has been such productions on Television or in the Cinema, come to that. It does to me seem a good way of showing these plays to many of us living outside London – although I do , on occasions go down to see one of them – last time it was ‘The Mousetrap’ – hugely enjoyable.

Peter Cushing ABOVE with Billie Whitelaw in the Thriller ‘Gaslight’

Peter Cushing did a lot of Television drama in those days – just before he got fully into gear with Hammer Films. Billie Whitelaw was at the start of her career here – I liked her and she was around a lot at the time and later

This Production was the last of the BBC Sunday Night Dramas that Peter Cushing did – the most famous being 1984 but he was also in ‘The Creature’ just before this which he later did again on film as ‘The Abominable Snowman.

Peter Cushing in ‘The Creature’

The same year as Gaslight was ‘The Revenge of Frankenstein’ and Peter Cushing after which he was then in the big league – and it effectively defined his career from that day on.

Here in a scene from the BBC Drama ‘His Excellency’ from 1957, we see a young Shirley Eaton on the Left with Glen Alyn and Donald Pickering.

Donald Pickering went on the play Dr Watson in quite a number of episodes of Sherlock Holmes in 19790 – 1980 and this had Geoffrey Whitehead as Holmes. This gets good reviews although I can’t remember it at all. It was a joint Polish / British production filmed in Poland

Glen Alyn pictured above was an Australian actress who had been quite famous in the Thirties. She had married in 1947 but her husband died in 1948 – sounds a very sad story. He was Stanley Joseph Grove – but I have come across papers that indicate his name had been Stanley Joseph Grove Spiro but in 1944 he registered to drop the ‘Spiro’

Glen Alyn’s appearance in ‘His Excellency’ marked her very last appearance on film or television. She returned to Australia and die there in Sydney in 1984

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