Digitised videos: documentaries

Acting around words: making physical choices
Broadcast: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 (30mins) on BBC2 
The programme visits four very different theatre companies and plays, which allows an opportunity to explore a range of styles. In the play Fit and Proper People, the world of football management provides an opportunity for actors at the Soho Theatre to explore the battle of the scene and changes in status. The Cardboard Citizens' production of Three Blind Mice reveals how trying out extremes of emotion can dramatically change the feel of a scene. Actors from Shared Experience explore how working without words can open up the conflicting objectives in a scene. And actors from Frantic Assembly show how skills can be safely explored and developed through trust, to allow a complex movement sequence to be more than just beats and shapes on the stage, but a living story.
Featuring interviews with directors including Steve Marmion, Tony McBride, Adrian Jackson, Polly Teale and Scott Graham and performances from actors including Katy Stephens, Steven Hartley, Andre Skeete, Jonathan Whitty, Natasha Gordon, Demi Oyediran, Sian Philips, Sam Cox, Leanne Rowe and Edward Bennett.

All the world's a stage: one man's journey through theatre (YouTube)

A 13 part series by Ronald Harwood covering a history of world theatre, from the time of the ancient Greeks to the the present day.

Arden, John: Sergeant Musgrave at the Court


Cinema of Andrei Tarkovski
Broadcast: BBC2 Friday, 13 Mar 1987 (60 mins).
In 1986 Andrei Tarkovsky ‘s remarkable career in the cinema received the accolade of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It sealed his reputation in the west as Russia’s greatest living artist. In Moscow, however, his work has been at best ignored, at worst vilified as elitist and wilfully obscure. Official disfavour finally forced Tarkovsky to leave Russia to seek finance. It was only a few months before his recent death that his poetic and haunting films were given official recognition in Moscow. Tonight’s Arena reviews Tarkovsky’s life and work.
Film editor Martin Peppler
Director Donattella Baglivo
Producer Charlie Pattinson

Genius like us
Broadcast: BBC4, 3 Sep 2007, 22:40 (75 mins).
Portrait of playwright Joe Orton, murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell at the peak of his career in 1967.

Broadcast: BBC2 15 & 22 Jun 2002 (60 mins each).
Sam Shepard narrates a programme documenting the life and career of celebrated Japanese film-maker Akira Kurosawa.

Searching for the wrong-eyed Jesus (2003)
Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus is a 2003 documentary film about the American South starring Jim White. Commissioned by BBC4, it documents the intersection of country music and Christianity in the United States. It was inspired by White's similarly titled album The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

Stages (1981)
For the past ten years Peter Brook and his unique company of actors have travelled the world with a series of extraordinary theatrical ventures. The last stage of their journey was Australia. Here, in a disused quarry in the hills above Adelaide they perform some of their most popular plays, and a remarkable meeting takes place with tribal Aboriginal performers who have travelled 1,000 miles to see a production of The Ik. This story, of the breakdown of a traditional tribal community, provides a moving parallel to the problems faced by the Aborigines themselves.
Production the MACAU LIGHT COMPANY Arena editor ALAN YENTOB
BBC Genome Radio Times listings:

Barker, Howard: Refuse to dance

Beckett, Samuel:

As the story was told - Part 1
Broadcast: BBC2 Saturday, 6 Apr 1996 (55 mins).
First in a two-part documentary biography shown to mark the 90th anniversary of his birthday in Dublin on Good Friday 1906. The traumas of Beckett’s formative years are covered in this opening segment: his ill-fated love affair with his first cousin, the death of his father, and his decorated service with the French Resistance. Beckett had settled in France before the Second World War, met fellow Irishman James Joyce , and began writing. Patrick Magee ‘s classic television performance in Krapp’s Last Tape is interwoven with key landscapes and personalities from Beckett’s life. Narrated by Ronald Pickup

Homage to Beckett: silence to silence

Black 18th century
Broadcast: 27 June 2008 (30 mins) on BBC4
Documentary exploring the experience of the black population in 18th century Britain.
Political upheavals in parts of the British Empire led to the arrival of thousands of black people, many of whom settled in London. Through the works of artists such as Gainsborough, Hogarth, and Zoffany, the film reveals how black people inhabited every stratum of British society, from the most privileged to the most severely dispossessed.  Featuring interviews with historians Simon Schama and David Dabydeen.

Brecht on Stage
Broadcast: BBC Two England, 16 September 1993 (25mins).
Professor Hans Mayer, who worked with Brecht on Mother Courage, describes their work at the Berliner Ensemble.

Bright lights, big city (First Edition)

Broadcast: Carlton TV, Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 (25mins).
Top lighting designers discuss how London’s landmarks could be transformed at night with a co-ordinated lighting plan. Mike Simpson experimentally illuminates various sites.

Cardboard Citizens: Gimme shelter

Citizens Theatre (Glasgow)

Series of TV programmes produced by Sally Wells for Yorkshire Television in 1992
with signing and subtitles and looking at 'disability' within the performing arts.
Directed by Chris Ryder and presented by Sarah Scott and Ray Harrison Graham.

D'Art 1 - putting on a show: acting
D'Art 2 - on dancing
D'Art 3 - on making sets
D'Art 4 - signed song
D'Art 5 - on make-up for the screen
D'Art 6 - poetry
D'Art 7 - on mime (Theatre Complicite / visual theatre)
D'Art 8 - the final show

Foucault: Beyond good and evil

Frayn, Michael: Mark Lawson talks to Michael Frayn
Broadcast: BBC4 Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 (60 mins)
Mark Lawson talks to the distinguished playwright and novelist Michael Frayn about his life and 50-year career. In this reflective interview Frayn discusses the craft of writing farce, fiction and film, the childhood tragedy that has underpinned his life and his next novel.

Geese Theatre Company: Behind the mask
Broadcast: 25th January 1994 (40mins) on BBC2
A week in Risley prison with the Geese Theatre Company.

The Great Depression
7-part series, produced, written & directed by Jon Else, BBC2

The Great Depression pt.1 - A job at Ford's
The Great Depression pt.2 - The road to rock bottom
The Great Depression pt.3 - New Deal, New York
The Great Depression pt.4 - We have a plan
The Great Depression pt.5 - Mean things happening  
The Great Depression pt.6 - To be somebody
The Great Depression pt.7 - Arsenal of democracy

Jerzy Grotowski: a portrait
1999 documentary from Telewizja Polska.

Hall, Peter: Work in progress

The House
Going behind the scenes during a turbulent twelve months at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.

How music works (4 part series by Howard Goodall)
Broadcast: Channel 4, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th June 2007. 60 mins each episode.

Mahabarata: Signals: The greatest story

Making it at Holby
Broadcast: BBC3 on Sat 27 March 2004 (60 mins).
Documentary about three new characters in drama series Holby City and Casualty, showing how the roles are created, and following the casting process up to the new characters’ first appearances

Market Theatre, Johannesburg: Born in the RSA

Martin Luther King: interview

Marxism / Stuart Hall


People's century
Series chronicling the turbulent changes of the 20th century from the point of view of the ordinary people who lived through them.

Age of hope: 1900
This programme features rare film and first-hand accounts from the first decade of the century, including reminiscences from visitors to the Paris Exhibition of 1900 and European emigrants who sailed to the United States.

Killing fields - 1914
Broadcast: BBC2, Tuesday, 14 Jul 1998, 13:30 (55mins)
The story of the First World War.

Russian revolution
Broadcast: BBC2, Tuesday, 21 Dec 1999, 09:00 (110mins)
1917: Red Flag. The impact of communism upon the lives of people in the Soviet Union.
1919: Lost Peace. Soldiers who survived the First World War recall their postwar disillusion.
(Bw and colour)

Sporting fever - 1920s & 1930s
Broadcast: BBC2, Tuesday, 21 Jul 1998, 13:30 (55mins)
The increase in the public appetite for sport in the Twenties and Thirties

On the line - 1924
Broadcast: BBC2, 22 Jul 1998, 13:30 (55mins).
Henry Ford’s moving assembly line changed the lives of millions of consumers

The great escape - 1927
Broadcast: BBC2, 27 Nov 1995, 19:00 (50mins)
How cinema extended its influence over the lives of ordinary people by making the transformation from being a turn-of-the-century novelty to a form of mass entertainment.

Breadline - 1929
Broadcast: BBC4, 24 January 2009 (55mins)
The story of ‘the hungry thirties’ told by men and women who suffered in the worldwide depression that followed the Wall Street Crash.

Master race - 1933
Broadcast: BBC2, Saturday, 31 Aug 1996, 21:55 (55mins)
1933: Master race. National Socialism in Germany & persecution of Jews and gypsies etc.

Pinter, Harold: A night out

A play for Bridport
BBC, 1982. Directed by David Wheatley
Documentary which looks at the production of The POOR MAN'S FRIEND by Howard Barker by a community theatre group in Dorset.

QED: The true story of the Elephant Man
Broadcast: Tuesday 27 May 1997 (50mins) on BBC1
[Unfortunately our recording cuts off 5 minutes before the end].
Using exclusive access to Joseph Merrick's case history and medical notes this programme traces the life-story of the so-called Elephant Man, from his birth in Leicester to his premature death in a London hospital.

Revolution and romance: musical masters of the 19th century
Broadcast: BBC4 April 2018 (60mins each)
Series in which Suzy Klein explores the transformation of music in the 19th century.
Part 1: We can be heroes
The first programme tells the story of an unrivalled creative outpouring, with the emergence of composers such as Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Chopin, Wagner, Verdi and Liszt and shows how composers and performers became the superstars of their age. Composers tore up the rulebooks, embraced the spirit of Romanticism and poured out their souls in their bold and experimental work.

Part 2: Talkin' 'bout a revolution
Music wasn’t just a backdrop to life, easing pain and enhancing pleasure. It became a revolutionary force that could - and did - change the world. Music came to express not only revolutionary fervour, but also the nationalism sweeping Europe.

Part 3: Party like its 1899
The last episode examines how music was able to flourish through economic and social change, as well as a technological revolution. Composers were influenced by the sounds of the east and developments in manufacturing were changing instruments and creating new ones - exemplified by the saxophone.


Somebody has to live: the journey of Ariel Dorfman
Broadcast on BBC4, 11th March 2008 (60 mins).
Documentary about internationally-renowned author Ariel Dorfman, the third generation of his family to know exile. His father’s leftwing beliefs saw the family uprooted from both Argentina and the US, before settling in Chile.  When Allende came to power, Ariel was a prominent member of his circle, but the bloody 1973 coup saw many of his friends and colleagues killed or disappeared, and Ariel forced into exile again. Peter Raymont journeys with Ariel as he looks back on his life.

Southbank Show

Peter Brook
Trevor Griffiths
David Mamet

South Bank Show: Conor McPherson
Broadcast: ITV 18 May 2003 (60mins).
Melvyn Bragg meets Irish playwright Conor McPherson, whose prolific output to date includes the plays Port Authority, The Good Thief and Dublin Carol. More recently he has turned his hand to film-making, both as director and screenwriter.

Jock Tamson's Bairns

Stage struck: Gay theatre in the twentieth century
3 part series broadcast on Channel 4 tracing the contribution made by gay writers to the theatre.

Part 1: The invisible man (Monday 20th September, 1999)
The invisible man: classic plays such as "Private lives", "The importance of being earnest" and "A streetcar named desire" have presented themes of heterosexual love, but put forth an outsider's view of heterosexual behaviour.

Part 2: Acts of indecency (Monday 27th September, 1999)
Acts of indecency: playwrights who have gay-themed subjects have faced censorship problems for centuries, but many have found ways to overcome the obstacles.

Part 3: Out of the past (Monday 5th October, 1999)
Out of the past: how the gay play quickly developed from the initial 'coming out' stage to works that asked more searching questions about gay life.

Theatre School - Drama Centre

Undressed: Fashion in the twentieth century

Undressed: Fashion in the twentieth century, pt.1
directed by Gideon Koppel ; written by Sally Brampton
Undressed: Fashion in the twentieth century, pt.2 
directed by Jaci Judelson ; written by Sally Brampton
Undressed: Fashion in the twentieth century, pt.3
directed by Jaci Judelson ; written by Sally Brampton

Critic Tom Sutcliffe unwraps the mystery of cinema in his new six-part series.
1. Beginnings
Broadcast: BBC2, 4 Nov 2000, (30mins).
This episode looks at the importance of a film’s opening, with contributions from directors Danny Boyle, Nic Roeg, and Patrice Leconte.

2. Big
Broadcast: BBC2, 11 Nov 2000, (30mins).
Tom Sutcliffe explains how size can emphasise the importance of objects. From the maggots in Einstein’s Battleship Potemkin to the infinite vistas in Blade Runner, and from David Lynch ‘s magnified expanse of lawn in Blue Velvet to the opening shot of the battle cruiser in Star Wars, directors Danny Boyle, Atom Egoyan, and Peter Bogdanovich discuss why size matters.

3. Screens
Broadcast: BBC2, 18 Nov 2000, (30mins).
This week, through films such as All That Heaven Allows and Videodrome, Tom Sutcliffe explores the way cinema has depicted television as a sinister and dangerous medium.

4. Punch
Broadcast: BBC2, 25 Nov 2000, (30mins).
Tom Sutcliffe talks to directors Terry Gilliam, Sydney Pollack, and Peter Bogdanovich about the elemental drama of the screen fight, and examines the emergence of new fashions in brutality and violence.

5. Unseen
Broadcast: BBC2, 2 Dec 2000, (30mins).
In this exploration of the power of off-screen action in the cinema, Tom Sutcliffe looks at clips from Jaws, Alien, The Shining, Halloween and Taxi Driver, and talks to John Carpenter and the makers of The Blair Witch Project.

6. Freeze
Broadcast: BBC2, 3 Dec 2000, (30mins).
In the final part of the series Tom Sutcliffe explores the emotional impact of slowing or stopping the action altogether. From the freeze frame at the decisive moment of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to that of Casino, cinema has proved beyond doubt that its power to move audiences can be stronger when the image itself ceases to move.

Welfare State International: Parliament in flames

When the circus comes to town
Broadcast: BBC4 Friday, 23 Oct 2015 (60 mins).
Timeshift documentary which uses the University of Sheffield's National Fairground Archive to tell the story of the circus. From Billy Smart to Gerry Cottle and Archaos to Cirque du Soleil, the documentary captures the appeal of this enduring mass entertainment.

Without Walls: J'adore: Sir Donald Wolfitt

Last modified: Tuesday, 19 March 2019, 12:43 PM