British Universities Film & Video Council

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Twelfth Night

Synopsis
Television broadcast of Bronson’s production of the play. Relayed live from the Phoenix Theatre, London, with Peggy Ashcroft as Viola and Michael Redgrave as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Medium
Television
Transmission details
2 Jan 1939 at 20:30 (Channel: BBC)
Duration
150 mins
Availability
No copy extant

Credits

Producer
Bronson James Albery; Michel Saint-Denis
Writer
William Shakespeare
Cast
Peggy AshcroftViola (later disguised as Cesario)
Vera LindsayOlivia
Esmond KnightOrsino, Duke of Illyria
George HayesMalvolio
Warren JenkinsFeste
Alistair BannermanPriest
Basil LangtonSebastian
David MacMichael 
Denis Madders 
Genevieve Jessel 
James Cairncross 
James DonaldValentine
John Bladgen 
John EarleSecond Officer
John RaeCaptain
Lucille LisleMaria
Mary Alexander 
Merula Salaman 
Michael Acton-Bond 
Michael Goodwin 
Michael RedgraveSir Andrew Aguecheek
Norman Spencer 
Peter WhiteheadCurio
Pierre LefèvreFirst Officer
Stephen Dolman 
Thomas HeathcoteFabian
William DevlinAntonio

Additional Details

Theatre
Phoenix Theatre, London
Production type
Television and Radio Drama
Historical period
Elizabethan
Plays
Twelfth Night
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)

Notes

General
Peggy Ashcroft appears on television for the first time.
Reviews
Anonymous reviewer from The Times: "The second play to be televised in its entirety from a theatre, Twelfth Night at the Phoenix, presented far greater difficulties than the first. Mr Priestley’s When We Are Married is a farce seeking only laughter [...] The joke was clear, and it sufficed that the wheeling cameras caught all its principal points by registering every comic expression which had something of importance to contribute. But Twelfth Night is more than a joke and its lyric beauty defies the vigilance of mechanical eyes which alter their range minute by minute.
The impression given was one of extreme restlessness. Viola was now a tiny figure scarcely distinguishable from half-a-dozen others equally diminutive and now rather more than life-size, taking up half the screen and hiding the balcony at her back. So with all the others. The result was to falsify the fluid grace of the production and to tempt viewers who were not preoccupied with the technical wonders of the apparatus to close their eyes and to treat the affair as broadcast [radio] drama. Then there was much to enjoy. ('Television from a theatre’, 3 January 1939, p. 8)
A roundup of reviews has been collected by the ‘ScreenPlays: Theatre on British Television’ project, see http://screenplaystv.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/from-the-theatre-1936-1939/ (accessed 9/2011)

Production Company

Name

BBC

Notes
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Record Stats

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