Rediscovering the Half-Hour Play

BFI Southbank, May 2023

A season of half-hour plays, curated by Lez Cooke, highlighting the range and accomplishment of the half-hour play. Screenings include early works by well-known writers and directors, the work of women writers, work from the English regions, experimental plays and tales of mystery and suspense.

Play for Today at 50

Belfast Film Festival, April 2020

A short season of Plays for Today, curated by John Hill, for the Belfast Film Festival that was scheduled for April 2020 but cancelled in March due to coronavirus. The season consisted of three Northern Ireland television dramas: Iris in the Traffic, Ruby in the Rain; Shadows on our Skin and The Cry (starring Adrian Dunbar).

Forgotten Black Drama

BFI Southbank, February 2019

Curated by Lez Cooke and Stephen Bourne, ‘Forgotten Black TV Drama’ presented a selection of ground-breaking black British television dramas from 1961-1985, many of them not seen since they were first broadcast. The season highlighted the work of a wide range of writers including Jan Carew, Sylvia Wynter, Barry Reckord, Michael Abbensetts, Jamal Ali, Buchi Emecheta, Caryl Phillips, Mustapha Matura and Trix Worrell and included introductions by some of the writers, actors, producers and directors as well as a panel discussion.

From the Nations: Television from Scotland and Wales

Royal Holloway University of London, November 2018

In association with Kaleidoscope, the Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production, and the History of Forgotten TV Drama project, Royal Holloway, University of London co-hosted a series of screenings and discussions of programmes made by STV (Scottish Television), launched in 1957, and HTV (Harlech Television), founded in 1968. This provided a rare opportunity to see some of the less well-known television dramas produced by these two companies and included HTV’s first full-length colour drama, Fade Out, Stephen Poliakoff’s early television play, City Sugar made by STV, and an episode of Garnock Way, STV’s unusually political soap opera set in a Scottish mining village.

Drama She Wrote

BFI Southbank, September-October 2018

Curated by Billy Smart and Dick Fiddy, the ‘Drama She Wrote’ season presented a range of neglected TV dramas by women writers from the 1950s to the 1970s.This included work by Buchi Emecheta, Patricia Hooker, Julia Jones and Watson Gould and screenings such as Still Waters, The Other Woman, A Kind of Marriage and A Splinter of Ice.

40 Years of Grange Hill

Royal Holloway University of London, April 2018

grange hill

The Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production (and Forgotten TV Drama project ) at Royal Holloway, University of London, teamed up with the classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope and the Good Grief Trust  (a charity run by the former Grange Hill actress Linda Magistris) to run a day of screenings, interviews, presentations and discussion to mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of the school drama Grange Hill.

These involved the programme’s original Executive Producer, Anna Home, the programme’s creator and original writer, Phil Redmond , the composer of the show’s musical theme tune, Alan Hawkshaw, members of the show’s cast and television scholars Helen Wheatley, Rachel Moseley and Maire Messenger Davies. For a discussion of the day, see here.

The Debussy Film: Introduction and discussion with John Hill, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

The Electric Cinema, Birmingham, March 2018

debussy festival birmingham

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) presented a special screening of the BBC Ken Russell film at The Electric Cinema, Birmingham. The film was introduced and accompanied by a post-show talk by John Hill. His talk linked The Debussy Film to Ken Russell’s other ‘television biographies’ – such as Elgar (1962) and Bela Bartok (1964) – and considered the use of dramatisation in these biographies and the controversies it provoked.

Missing Believed Wiped

Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast, November 2017

In association with Kaleidoscope, the Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production and Forgotten TV Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London co-hosted the first ever Missing Believed Wiped event in Northern Ireland, supported by Northern Ireland Screen, Film Hub NI and the Belfast Film Festival. Screenings included a newly-found episode of Z Cars from 1962, featuring Belfast actor James Ellis, the only surviving example of UTV’s children’s series, For the Very Young from 1964, and a rare example of BBCNI’s traditional music series Music Room (with Maureen Hegarty) from 1973.

Forgotten TV Drama in Belfast

November 2017

As a prelude to the Missing Believed Wiped Northern Ireland event at QFT, the Belfast Film Festival – in association with the ‘Forgotten Television Drama’ project at Royal Holloway, University of London – screened two television dramas previously unseen in Northern Ireland: the newly-restored Worm in the Bud (1959) and Would You Look at Them Smashing All the Lovely Windows (1970). The plays were introduced by John Hill and Worm in the Bud has since been included in the Forgotten Television Drama DVD series (with accompanying notes by Hill).

Forgotten TV Drama

Belfast Film Festival, April 2017

forgotten dramas, belfast film festival

Following the success of previous screenings (of the work of Dominic Behan) at the 2015 festival, John Hill curated a second series of Forgotten TV Dramas for the Belfast Film Festival in 2017. The screenings included Danger, Men Working, written by Northern Ireland writer John D. Stewart, which was accompanied by an introduction to his work by John Hill.

Forgotten TV Drama

HOME, Manchester, March 2017

The Forgotten season (curated by Lez Cooke) at HOME in Manchester highlighted a  number of forgotten TV dramas including some from Granada and BBC North West that haven’t been seen since they were first transmitted. The screenings included two episodes of Julia Jones’ Home and Away and Lez’s interview with the director Roy Battersby may be found here.

Television Drama Conference: the Archives, Access and Research

BFI Southbank, February 2017

tv archives and access conference

Co-hosted by the Centre for the History of Television Culture and Production at Royal  Holloway, University of London (as part of the ‘Forgotten Television Drama’ project), Learning on Screen and the BFI, this event brought together archivists, broadcasters, academics and enthusiasts to discuss the challenges involved in providing access to our TV history and enhancing its educational, cultural and public value.

Forgotten TV Dramas season

BFI Southbank, February 2017

Following the successful Forgotten Drama season at BFI Southbank in 2015, this second season – curated by Lez Cooke, John Hill and Billy Smart – unearthed another varied programme of neglected television dramas, mostly unseen since their original broadcast. These included screenings of the newly-restored The Day of Ragnarok, Loyalties (with Edward Fox), The Hotel in Amsterdam and The Nearly Man (which was subsequently released as part of the Forgotten TV Drama DVD series with accompanying notes by Hill).

Gosta Green Revisited

Flatpack Film Festival, MAC Birmingham, October 2016 

When BBC Birmingham outgrew its first base on Broad Street, television production moved to the old Delicia Cinema on Gosta Green. These screenings provided a rare opportunity to see some of Gosta Green’s productions which were introduced by Lez Cooke. The screenings included the opening episode of Rainbow City, the first UK series to feature a black actor (Errol John) in the lead role and  followed by a discussion involving people who worked at the studio. Lez’s blog post provides further details about the studio’s output between 1951-1971.

Television Drama: The Forgotten, the Lost and the Neglected conference

Royal Holloway, April 2015

forgotten tv drama conference

A three-day conference held at Royal Holloway with thirty papers covering neglected drama programmes from the 1930s to the present day in Britain and abroad. The event also included two keynote addresses from James Chapman of Leicester University and Christine Geraghty of Glasgow University, three panels of interviews with television actors, directors and producers and screenings of recently recovered lost television dramas.

Dominic Behan on Screen

Belfast Film Festival, April 2015

dominic behan on screen

As part of the Forgotten Television Drama project, John Hill curated a short season of Dominic Behan’s pioneering television dramas dealing with Irish history and the ‘troubles’. The season included the first ever screening in Northern Ireland of Behan’s newly-restored 1969 drama, The Patriot Game, which Ulster Television had refused to show at the time of its initial production.

Rediscovering British Television’s Neglected Plays

BFI Southbank, February 2015

rediscovering neglected plays

‘Forgotten Dramas: Rediscovering British Television’s Neglected Plays’ was a season of television plays, held at BFI Southbank in February 2015, curated by Lez Cooke and Billy Smart. The season presented a range of forgotten and neglected TV dramas from the 1950s through to the 1970s including work written by a range of authors from JB Priestley and John Betjeman to Alan Bleasdale and Ian McEwan.

The History of Forgotten Television Drama symposium

Belfast, February 2014

This symposium was a small-group event at which a range of TV scholars were invited to discuss television drama and canon formation, researching television drama in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions and the general problems relating to research into ‘forgotten’ television drama.