British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Colour Pictorial

1918 - 1969
Cinemagazine - Entertainment
First released in March 1918, Pathe Pictorial was the longest running series in the history of the British cinemagazine, in continuous production for over fifty years. It established the general format of the genre, focusing on stories of general interest, acting as a supplement to the company’s newsreel Pathe Gazette. Its longevity can partly be explained by its willingness to adapt and re-brand itself although to the audience it was always Pathe Pictorial. In October 1931 (issue no.704) it finally absorbed sound to transform into Pathe Sound Pictorial, after Pathe had experimented with the sound cinemagazine with Pathe Sound Magazine and Pathe Monthly from August 1930. In 1936 it became New Series Pictorial, which was shortened to New Pictorial in 1944. It was briefly known as New Series Pictorial ‘A’ during the same year. As competition from television became more heated in the mid 1950s, colour was introduced in January 1955 to mark its topical stories out from its rival. Another competitor, the Rank cinemagazine Look at Life was produced in 1959 but by the introduction of colour television in the mid 1960s the days of both cinemagazines were numbered with Pathe Pictorial finally ceasing production in March 1969.

The early editorial arrangements for the Pathe Pictorial are unknown, but by 1928 it was being edited by Fred Watts. He continued to edit the reel until 1944, when Howard Thomas seems to have taken editorial control as ‘production manager.' Watts resigned the following year, and seems to have been replaced by Terry Ashwood. By 1962 Ashwood was being credited as ‘executive producer’ of Pathe Pictorial, and the ‘editor’ was Douglas Warth, who continued in this post until the end of the cinemagazine in 1969.
The database was compiled from documents in the Slade Film History Register, but these are library records rather than issue sheets, and start only in August 1931 with Pathe Pictorial No. 700. Some of the records are contemporary with the reel, but others were obviously compiled much later. The information they contain is very sparse, but from July 1962 they are accompanied by, and afterwards superseded by, memos from the Editor to the Press Officer of Warner-Pathe, which contain much additional information.
Other Information
Note: Pathe took its name from the company’s French founder, Charles Pathé. The acute accent was used occasionally in the various newsreels and cinemagazines that the company issued in Britain, but it was most commonly not used at all, and for consistency’s sake the accent has not been used on News on Screen.

Films in this series can be obtained from:

Film Archive

British Pathe Ltd
0207 665 8340
3.29 Canterbury Court
1-3 Brixton Road
Pathe now also handles the Reuters Historical Collection, which includes the British Paramount, Empire British, Gaumont Graphic and Gaumont British newsreels.
Series held
View all series held by British Pathe Ltd

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