Rediscovering the Half-Hour Play

We are pleased to announce a new season of Forgotten Television Drama at BFI Soutbank in May 2023. Curated by Lez Cooke this new season, the first at BFI Southbank since Forgotten Black TV Drama in 2019, provides an opportunity to rediscover a lost form of TV drama: the half-hour television play.

Once prevalent on British television, the half-hour play was a unique form which provided an opportunity for many writers, directors and actors to develop their craft. Writers including Alan Bleasdale, Andrew Davies, Andrea Newman and Fay Weldon wrote some of their first scripts for the half-hour play and it was also a training ground for directors like Alan Clarke, Ridley Scott and Michael Winterbottom who graduated to full-length television plays and feature films. Many actors too were given early opportunities to appear on television in half-hour plays and some of them can be seen in this selection of plays from anthology series such as Half-Hour StoryThirty Minute Theatre, Second City Firsts, Sense of Place, Tales of Unease and Tales of the Unexpected. With the internet giving opportunities for new writers and directors to make short-form drama and see their work reach new audiences on a variety of platforms this is an opportune moment to reassess the lost tradition of the half-hour play which performed a similar function on broadcast television.

The season begins on 3 May and carries on until 31 May. Full details of the programme may be found on the Forgotten Television Drama website and bookings may be made on the BFI website.

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