1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

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andrew baker
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1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by andrew baker »

Fabulous DVDS from Simply Media of several BBC Sunday teatime Dickens adaptations. This is priceless archive TV.

The 1967 Great Expectations must be the most accurate adaptation. Francesca Annis was born to be Estella. It even has the downbeat ending which Dickens was persuaded to change for publication but which makes far more sense. It's a not too brilliant 16mm (I think) telerecording.

The 1969 Dombey and Son is equally authentic, with John Carson as Dombey. The huge joy of this is that some episodes are from the original 625 line tapes. Hurrah. You can see what late 60s B&W Tv really looked like.

I remember the Oliver Twist with Max Adrian as Fagin being good. The others are 1950s Our Mutual Friend and Barnaby Rudge - the only TV version of that novel.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Spiny Norman »

The 625 tapes were probably kept because it was "highbrow"?

Who knows, perhaps they'll move down to the Brontes and Austens after that.

Will you be providing any booklets? :)
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ian b
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by ian b »

You didn't mention the release of 1959's BLEAK HOUSE - while Simply themselves have overlooked 1968's NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, the only other BBC b/w Dickens' adaptation that exists complete.

The three episodes of DOMBEY that still exist on vt, (1, 4 and 6), are unedited studio recordings - thoughbthe reels of episodes 4 and 6 only feature a small amount of "second attempts", the one for the first episode runs to a whopping 41 minutes. But the DVD episodes have been edited to match the existing telerecordings of the same episodes. This version is also streets ahead of the later colour adaptation for the same slot.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Spiny Norman »

ian b wrote:The three episodes of DOMBEY that still exist on vt, (1, 4 and 6), are unedited studio recordings - thoughbthe reels of episodes 4 and 6 only feature a small amount of "second attempts", the one for the first episode runs to a whopping 41 minutes.
Is there any story behind their survival?
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ian b
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by ian b »

Not that I know of - I've always presumed that the original quads somehow got overlooked for release and reuse. Y the engineering department.

Interestingly the surviving telerecordings of the episodes for the 60s DAVID COPPERFIELD are also the raw studio output, featuring retakes of some scenes.

It's a great pity that A TALE OF TWO CITIES is incomplete, as the pair of episodes that do survive, (and I'll take another guess that these were returnees from abroad), showcase a very confident production.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Spiny Norman »

ian b wrote:Not that I know of - I've always presumed that the original quads somehow got overlooked for release and reuse. Y the engineering department.
I wonder if there are any amusing bloopers there. Or anything on the rest of the tape.

Hopefully they'll continue this line. They've also done the two Musketeers series from the 1960s - the oldest example I know of Brian Blessed being loud and boisterous. And I wouldn't mind "Spread of the Eagle" myself.
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andrew baker
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by andrew baker »

Have the musketeers serials been released in the UK? The first one is directed by Peter Hammond, who directed the best BBC Dickens of tape days - the 1975 Our Mutual Friend and the Sunday tea time Count of Monte Cristo with Alan Badel - which is available n DVD.

I would pay moderately good money for 1970s classic serials - especially A Legacy and Bel Ami.

Aha - I missed this release:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/THREE-MUSKETEE ... musketeers

Mark
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Mark »

There is also the 1970 version of "Ivanhoe", out now, with Eric Flynn and Clare Jenkins.
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ian b
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by ian b »

A while back I posted lists for both the Sunday Classics slot and the BBC2 Classic serial if they are any use...

Sunday Classics
http://www.mausoleumclubforum.org.uk/xm ... #pid243110

BBC2 Classic Serial
http://www.mausoleumclubforum.org.uk/xm ... #pid219094


But the productions released in this set of OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, BLEAK HOUSE and BARNABY RUDGE come from the lesser spoken of Friday evening half-hour slot in which adaptations of classic novels appeared in the late 50s and early 60s.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Spiny Norman »

andrew baker wrote:Have the musketeers serials been released in the UK? The first one is directed by Peter Hammond, who directed the best BBC Dickens of tape days - the 1975 Our Mutual Friend and the Sunday tea time Count of Monte Cristo with Alan Badel - which is available n DVD.

I would pay moderately good money for 1970s classic serials - especially A Legacy and Bel Ami.

Aha - I missed this release:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/THREE-MUSKETEE ... musketeers
Yes, and the "further adventures" too. They "simply" didn't raise any dust.
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Mark
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Mark »

Ian's handy lists are a nice reminder of the many excellent BBC adaptations they presented, the more released the better.
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andrew baker
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by andrew baker »

Dombey and Son was indeed the last Sunday serial to be shown in B&W - in November and December 1969. (See Genome project)

So this might explain why unedited tapes survived - but this raises a technical question. Was a different kind of tape used for colour recording?
Or maybe they just decided to use new tapes to ensure quality.

andrew baker
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by andrew baker »

Mark wrote:Ian's handy lists are a nice reminder of the many excellent BBC adaptations they presented, the more released the better.
Very good indeed, thank you Ian.

I was born in 1954 but I can remember watching the 1957 Railway Children and a lot of things from then on. A lot of us must have got to know a lot of literature from these serials and I learned about classical music as my father would tell me what the music was and then play a record - a 78 even!

For instance a Tale of Two Cities used the March to the Scaffold from Berlioz Sinfonie Fantastique and the Silver Sword used Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini - but I suspect I saw these 1957 things in repeats a year later. Silver Sword was repeated in 1958 but I cant find ToTC on Genome.

Later on if I didn't know what the music was I would write to the BBC, so I discovered some good music that way.

brigham
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by brigham »

I'm almost inclined to buy these, to try and see what all the fuss was about.
I remember having to sit still and keep quiet while the grown-ups absorbed every moment of it.
I was asked at school what it was about.
"Old people saying things in the old days" was the gist of my reply.
Perhaps I wasn't impressed.

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Bernie
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Bernie »

andrew baker wrote:Dombey and Son was indeed the last Sunday serial to be shown in B&W - in November and December 1969. (See Genome project)

So this might explain why unedited tapes survived - but this raises a technical question. Was a different kind of tape used for colour recording?
Or maybe they just decided to use new tapes to ensure quality.
These were probably the backing copies, because the main ones would have been cut edited. Maybe the producer spirited them away to his office and they sat there in a corner for years, till the great wiping period was over. I know two VT editors who took home things they'd edited and were due for wiping and stashed them in the loft.

B

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Spiny Norman
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Spiny Norman »

Bernie wrote:
andrew baker wrote:Dombey and Son was indeed the last Sunday serial to be shown in B&W - in November and December 1969. (See Genome project)

So this might explain why unedited tapes survived - but this raises a technical question. Was a different kind of tape used for colour recording?
Or maybe they just decided to use new tapes to ensure quality.
These were probably the backing copies, because the main ones would have been cut edited. Maybe the producer spirited them away to his office and they sat there in a corner for years, till the great wiping period was over. I know two VT editors who took home things they'd edited and were due for wiping and stashed them in the loft.

B
The Pythons are said to have "borrowed" some master tapes as well when they were made aware of the danger. They're still telling the story rather carefully without many details even now. (Causing a lot of confusion as people keep retelling it wrong.)
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Mark
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Mark »

Chris Perry tells a good tale of the Victoria Wood "Archers" Radio spoof surviving, in his interview on the first "From The Archive" podcast, well worth a listen.

Wasn't "A Tale Of Two Cities", the first subject of a VT Trail.?
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ian b
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by ian b »

andrew baker wrote:Dombey and Son was indeed the last Sunday serial to be shown in B&W - in November and December 1969. (See Genome project).
Well, August to November to be pedantic.

;)

marsey
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by marsey »

Thanks for mentioning this. Found Mutual Friend and Oliver Twist 2 for £20 so worth the opportunity to see some truly classic tv. Started watching Oliver first, and it's impressive that a 60 year old tv programme looks as good as it does. The acting (as you might suppose) seems top rate, and will be interesting to see overall how it compares to more modern interpretations.

fatcat
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by fatcat »

Can't see the point of wiping and reuse for anything that had been spliced, as the tape would have been unpredictable at the joining point and thus a liability for a new production... as age set in the points would have stretched and oxide would have fallen off as can be seen here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_QBaZVMxhQ&t=82s

Brian F
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Re: 1950s and 60s BBC Dickens

Post by Brian F »

I remember from the old Restoration Team forum Steve Roberts said there was a maximum number of splices for re-use. I caan't remember if he said the taped was just wiped and thrown out if it exceeded that number or kept, but sue to the space needed for tape storage I suspect it would have been dumped.

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