British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Grave Gifts

Summary
The BBC production of The Serpent Son, an adaptation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy by Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish, was transmitted in three parts: Agamemnon, Grave Gifts and Furies. The trilogy was followed by Of Mycenae and Men, a related comic playlet, written for television.
Theatre play
Choephoroi by Aeschylus [more information]
Date of transmission
Wednesday 14 March 1979
Time
9.25pm
Series
Serpent Son
Channel
BBC2
Production company
BBC

Credits

Director
Bill Hays
Producer
Richard Broke
Lighting
John Treays
Playwright
Aeschylus
Translator
Kenneth McLeish
Translator
Frederic Raphael
Composer
Humphrey Searle
Chorus Directed by
John McCarthy (credited as Chorus-Master for the Ambrosian Singers)
Designer
Tim Harvey
Costume Designer
Barbara Kidd
Make-up Artist
Jenny Shircore
Sound
Ray Angel
Cast
Sheila BallantineSecond Woman
Alan HalleyDoorkeeper
Eileen HelsbyThird Woman
Anton LesserOrestes
Peter MachinPylades
John NolanApollo
Maureen O’BrienElektra
Natasha ParryPriestess of Apollo
Diana RiggKlytemnestra
Flora Robson (1902-1984)Kilissa
Ian SharpPriest
Billie WhitelawLeader of the Women

Additional details

Vision original
Colour
Play tags
Greek drama; tragedy

Audiovisual sources

Title
Grave Gifts (BBC, 1979)
Archive
BBC Information and Archives [more information]
Address

White City
London
UK

Telephone

+44 (0)20 8008 2288

Website

http://www.bbc.co.uk/informationandarchives/

Access

BBC Information and Archives is not open to the public.

Print sources

Title
A Classic Case of Violence (Review)
Author/creator
Rosalie Horner (Reviewer)
Reference
Daily Express, 8 March 1979, p. 27
Title
Artifact: Classics for Pleasure (Newspaper review)
Author/creator
Clive Hodgson and John Wyver
Reference
Time Out, 2-8 March 1979
Notes
with images from the production
Title
BBC Television Script Unit, Drama Writer’s File: Frederic Raphael (Archive file)
Archive
BBC Written Archives Centre (WAC) [more information]
Address

Peppard Road
Caversham Park
Reading
Berkshire
RG4 8TZ
UK

Telephone

+44 (0)118 948 6281

Email

heritage@bbc.co.uk

Website

http://www.bbc.co.uk/historyofthebbc/research/wac

Access

The WAC is open from 9.30am to 5.00pm on Wednesdays to Fridays throughout the year to academics, postgraduate students and writers by appointment.

Reference
reference T48/487/1
Linking notes
contains correspondence pertaining to the translation
Title
Belfast Dreamer (Newspaper review)
Author/creator
Clive James (Reviewer)
Reference
The Observer, 11 March 1979, p. 20
Title
Bill Hays, Bright, Versatile and Cavalier Director of Stage and Television (Newspaper obituary)
Author/creator
Alan Plater (Author)
Reference
The Gaurdian, 14 March 2006
Title
Bill Hays, Maverick TV and theatre director (Newspaper obituary)
Author/creator
Alan Strachan (Author)
Reference
The Independent, 29 May 2006
Title
Greek plays: The Serpent Son (BBC, 1979) (Blog article)
Author/creator
Amanda Wrigley (Author)
Reference
http://screenplaystv.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/serpent-son-bbc-1979, published 5 November 2011
Title
One Man’s Television: [I do not withdraw...] (Newspaper review)
Author/creator
Bernard Davies (Reviewer)
Reference
Broadcast, 2 April 1979, pp. 12-13
Title
One Man’s Television: [You will no doubt expect...] (Newspaper review)
Author/creator
Bernard Davies (Reviewer)
Reference
Broadcast, 19 March 1979, pp. 8-9
Notes
with images from the production
Title
Postscript to The Serpent Son: Of Mycenae and Men (BBC, 1979) (Blog article)
Author/creator
Amanda Wrigley (Author)
Reference
http://screenplaystv.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/of-mycenae-and-men-bbc-1979, published 27 December 2011
Title
Radio Times, 10 March 1979 (Magazine)
Linking notes
programme listing
Title
Radio Times, 3 March 1979 (Magazine)
Linking notes
arresting image of Diana Rigg as Klytemnestra on front cover; listing, with image, on p. 55; article, ‘House of Horror’, by Henry Fenwick, pp. 72 ff.
Title
Radio Times, 7 April 1979 (Magazine)
Linking notes
letters, p. 79
Title
Rigged out for Tragedy (Newspaper article)
Reference
Daily Mirror, 7 March 1979, p. 19
Title
The Serpent Son (Camera script)
Author/creator
Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish
Reference
A copy of this camera script exists in the personal archive of Amanda Wrigley.
Title
The Serpent Son. Aeschylus’ Oresteia (Book)
Author/creator
Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish (Translators)
Reference
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979
Linking notes
reference to the television production on p. viii, with an image from the production on the cover
Title
The Sorry Serpent (Newspaper review)
Author/creator
Clive James (Reviewer)
Reference
The Observer, 18 March 1979, p. 20

Associated programmes

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