The BBC were permitted to show the play again in 1994 on BBC Two,
as a tribute to the recently deceased Cartier,
and again in June 2003 on digital station BBC Four
as part of the George Orwell centenary celebrations.

BBC'S 1954 TV VERSION OF 1984

To Orwell Today,

Could you be so kind to let me know where I could obtain a copy of the 1968 BBC film version of "1984".

Thanking you in advance,
Mary Lemis, Corfu

Greetings Mary,

The BBC film version of "1984" came out in 1954 (not 1968). According to the articles below it was rebroadcast again in 1977 and 1994 but since that time has not been aired and will not be available on DVD or video until 2020:

Overview of BBC film: 1984 - Part 1 and 1984 - Part 2

It doesn't sound like it was very well received by the public, even though alot of effort was put into the production. Some people called it "putrid" which is more or less what I thought of the version that came out in 1984 starring John Hurt: 1984 A BAD MOVIE.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

To Orwell Today,

Thanks Jackie. Shame I have to wait till 2020 to be able to buy a copy of "1984". Mightn't be around that long! No other ideas, eh? I think my father had a role in the film.

Cheers from sunny Corfu,
Mary

Hi Mary,

Maybe if you contacted the BBC they would make you a video copy if you were just using it for personal use. This past summer I ordered the BBC production ORWELL: MY LIFE IN PICTURES that had aired in England a couple of years ago (I plan to do a review of it soon).

I contacted BBC's Wall To Wall department attention: berenice.robinson@walltowall.co.uk and she arranged for a one-off copy to be made. Maybe she can steer you in the right direction.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - Thanks for the sunny greetings from Corfu, which I have been to and loved.

PPS - A reader just sent in another link: Nineteen Eighty-Four, the TV Programme, from Wikipedia:...The play provoked something of an upset. There were complaints both about the "horrific" content (particularly the infamous Room 101 scene where Smith is threatened with torture by rats) and the "subversive" nature of the play. Most were worried by the depiction of a totalitarian governmental regime controlling the population's freedom of thought, and four MPs from the ruling Conservative government tabled motions in the House of Commons for the scheduled Thursday second performance to be cancelled. There was also a report in the Daily Express newspaper of 42-year-old Beryl Merfin of Herne Bay collapsing and dying as she watched the production, under the headline "Wife dies as she watches", allegedly from the shock of what she had seen.

Amidst objections the BBC went ahead with the performance, although the decision went to the heights of the Board of Governors, which narrowly voted in favour of the second performance. This was even introduced live on camera by Head of Drama Michael Barry himself, who had already appeared on the Monday's edition of the topical news programme Panorama to defend the production. The seven million viewers who did tune in for the Thursday performance constituted the largest television audience in the UK since the Coronation the previous year, and even the Queen and Prince Philip made it known publicly that they had watched and enjoyed the play.

When it had become clear what an important production Nineteen Eighty-Four was, it was arranged for the second performance to be telerecorded onto 35mm film the first performance having simply disappeared off into the ether, as it was shown live, seen only by those who were watching on the Sunday evening... It is thus the second performance that survives in the archives, one of the earliest surviving British television dramas...

Although it is extremely fortunate that even the second performance survives in the archives from an era when little television was preserved in such a manner, the play is well known only amongst archive television enthusiasts and science-fiction fans. It was twenty-three years before it received a repeat broadcast in 1977, and another proposed repeat run as part of the BBC's fiftieth anniversary of television celebrations in 1986 was overruled by the producers of the 1984 John Hurt/Richard Burton feature film adaptation, who felt that any exposure for earlier versions would affect income for their film. The BBC were however permitted to show the play again in 1994 on BBC Two, as a tribute to the recently deceased Cartier, and again in June 2003 on digital station BBC Four as part of the George Orwell centenary celebrations.

Reader Eric sends a VeohTV link to the BBC 1954 version of "1984"

Reader Gracia is also looking for the BBC 1954 version of "1984"

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

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