BBC Drama Films and Documentaries

Plays

video Blue/Orange (BBC Film Adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Blue/Orange is based on Joe Penhall's award winning play of the same name. In a London psychiatric hospital, an enigmatic young man claims, among other things, to be the son of an exiled African dictator - a story that becomes unnervingly plausible. In a fiery and suspenseful debate, his doctor and consultant clash over the patient's diagnosis and treatment. What ensues is an incendiary tale of race, madness and a Darwinian power struggle at the heart of a dying National Health Service. Filmed on location in London, and shot in high definition, this dynamic and often very funny adaptation of Joe Penhall's award-winning play retains the music, lighting and sound team from the original stage production, which premiered in April 2000.

‘Beautifully written - intelligent, complex, uncompromising and compassionate’ The Times

‘Riveting and intense … often-funny, always smart … Parkes delivers those lines with a manic energy illustrative of the lines Chris straddles. And both Simm and Cox match his intensity, to the point where one forgets there are only three speaking characters.’ Multichannel News, USA

‘All three acting performances are strong. Brian Cox is excellent as the ambitious Robert, gradually and artfully revealing the baser impulses that reside beneath the doctor’s polished professional demeanor. Shaun Parkes’s searing portrayal of Chris is the heart of the show and he is particularly good at giving life to the menagerie of concocted and also legitimate-fears that haunt the patient.” CultureVulture, USA

Awards for the original theatre production:

Best New Play Olivier Awards for 2001; Best Play of the Year, Evening Standard Awards 2000; Best New Play, Critics' Circle Theatre Awards 2000

Credits:

Director: Howard Davies; Written and adapted by: Joe Penhall based on his award winning play of the same name; Producer: Richard Fell; Executive Producer: Bill Boyes; Starring: Brian Cox, John Simm, Shaun Parkes.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Copenhagen (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

A BBC/KCET Hollywood co-production, Copenhagen is a stylish screen adaptation of Michael Frayn’s award winning stage-play about science, friendship and the uncertainty of things. In 1941, the German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a strange trip to Copenhagen to see his Danish counterpart, Niels Bohr. The pair had once been great friends and close colleagues who had revolutionised atomic physics in the 1920s with their work together on quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. But now the world had changed and the two men were on opposite sides in a world war. Their meeting was fraught with danger and embarrassment and ended in disaster. Ever since, historians have wondered why Heisenberg went to Copenhagen and what he wanted to discuss with Bohr. In Michael Frayn’s play, Heisenberg meets Bohr and his wife Margrethe once again to look for the answers and to work out, just as they had once worked out the internal functioning of the atom, how we can ever know why we do what we do.

The stage play premièred in May 1995 at the Royal National Theatre, London and won the 1998 Evening Standard and the Critics’ Circle Awards for Best New Play. Its New York debut was at the Royale Theatre in April 2000. This adaptation features a slightly abbreviated script and is shot on location.

‘Be prepared to go through some serious mental gymnastics to keep up with the action, but it's worth the effort.’ The Guardian

‘I found myself thinking that it worked even better than it had in the theatre. Largely shot in a sparsely furnished country house bathed in chilly Scandinavian light, it was flawlessly constructed, constantly unsettling and deeply moving, with wonderfully judged performances … one of the dramatic highlights of the year.’ Sunday Telegraph

Credits:

Director: Howard Davies; Cinematographer: Ian Wilson (Emma, The Crying Game); Producer: Richard Fell; Executive Producer: Simon Curtis (Man, Boy); Starring: Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), Daniel Craig (Our Friends in the North, Lara Croft Tomb Raider), Francesca Annis (Deceit, Wives, Daughters)

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video The Critic (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Hywel Bennett, Alan Badel, Nigel Hawthorne and John Gielgud star in Sheridan's clever farce on the pretensions of the theatrical world. The Critic: or, a Tragedy Rehearsed is a political and literary satire, following in the vein of George Villiers’ The Rehearsal (1671), which takes jovial aim at the vanities of authors and politicians and at the foibles of the theatre itself.

Credits:

Lord Burleigh: John Gielgud; Mr. King/Mr. Puff: Hywel Bennett; Mr. Sneer: Nigel Hawthorne; Mrs. Dangle: Rosemary Leach; Mr. Dangle: Norman Rodway; Sir Fretful Plagiary: Alan Badel; Tiburina: Anna Massey; Constable: Rodney Bewes; Interpreter: Christopher Biggins; Director: Don Taylor; Writer: Richard B. Sheridan; Producer: Louis Marks; Costume Design: Betty Aldiss.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video The Devil’s Disciple (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

The Revolutionary War serves as the backdrop for this brilliant satire penned by Bernard Shaw. Self-professed ‘devil's disciple’ Dick Dudgeon (Mike Gwilym) -- who long ago scorned the piety and traditional values of his mother (Elizabeth Spriggs) -- returns home when his father dies. But after the British army arrives on the scene to lynch the village minister (Patrick Stewart), Dick finds that he can't escape his moral underpinnings.

Credits:

Director: David Jones; Producer: Shaun Sutton; Lighting: Howard King; Playwright: Bernard Shaw; Composer: Stephen Oliver; Designer: Tony Burrough; Costume Designer: Odette Barrow; Script Editor: Stuart Griffiths; Cast: John Cater: Uncle Titus Dudgeon; June Ellis: Mrs Titus Dudgeon; Patrick Godfrey: Lawyer Hawkins; Mike Gwilym: Richard Dudgeon; Timothy Kightley: Chaplain; Larry Lamb: Sergeant; Cheryl Maiker: Essie; Patrick Newell: Uncle William Dudgeon; Ian Richardson: General Burgoyne; Freda Rodgers: Mrs William Dudgeon; Elizabeth Spriggs: Mrs Dudgeon; Patrick Stewart: Anthony Anderson; Graham Turner: Christy Dudgeon; Benjamin Whitrow: Major Swindon; Susan Wooldridge: Judith Anderson.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video A Doll’s House (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Henrik Ibsen struck an early blow for feminism in 1879 with this liberated tale of a wife who rebels. Juliet Stevenson plays Nora who finally revolts against her husband's perception of her as a doll-wife whose opinions count for nothing.

‘A new, pointedly ideological translation by Joan Tinsdale is both sharp and felicitous…Ibsen is served brilliantly’ New York Times.

‘Exceptionally acted’ L. A Times

Credits:

Director: David Thacker; Producer: Simon Curtis; Starring: Juliet Stevenson, Trevor Eve, Geraldine James, Patrick Malahide and David Calder.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video An Englishman Abroad (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Alan Bennett's award-winning film drama based on a meeting between Australian actress, Coral Browne and British spy, Guy Burgess. Alan Bates stars in a story based on a true incident which took place in Moscow in 1958. British spy, Guy Burgess encounters actress Coral Browne (who plays herself) on tour from the 'old country'. Invited to lunch at Burgess's shabby apartment, he presents her with a strange request. Both Browne and Bates were winners of BAFTA awards for acting for their roles in this production.

Credits:

Guy Burgess: Alan Bates; Herself: Coral Browne; Claudius: Charles Gray; Rosencrantz: Harold Innocent; Guildenstern: Vernon Dobtcheff; General: Czeslaw Grocholski; Boy: Matthew Sim; Hamlet: Mark Wing-Davey; Hotel Receptionist: Faina Zinova; Toby: Douglas Reith; Giles: Peter Chelsom; Tessa: Judy Gridley; Scarf Man: Bibs Ekkel; Tolya: Alexei Jawdokimov; Mrs Burgess: Molly Veness; Tailor: Denys Hawthorne; Shoe Shop Assistant: Roger Hammond; George: Charles Lamb; Pyjama Shop Manager: Trevor Baxter; Writer: Alan Bennett; Director: John Schlesinger; Producer: Innes Lloyd.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Hedda Gabler (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Ibsen's classic story of a woman who sets out to destroy her husband and his smug, middle-class attitudes, but instead finds herself having to make a grave decision. This television production is related to the 1991 Abbey Theatre, Dublin production which transferred to the West End. Fiona Shaw had played the lead role in that production which was also directed by Deborah Warner.

Credits:

A BBC production in association with WGBH Boston. Director: Deborah Warner; Writer: Henrik Ibsen; Producer: Simon Curtis. Starring: Fiona Shaw (Mind Games), Brid Brennan, Donal McCann (The Serpent's Kiss), Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), Nicholas Woodeson (The Avengers).

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Henry IV Part 1 (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

In 1978, the BBC set itself the task of filming all of William Shakespeare's plays for television. The resulting productions, renowned for their loyalty to the text, utilised the best theatrical and television directors and brought highly praised performances from leading contemporary actors.

Henry IV Part One: these are troubled times for King Henry. His son, Prince Harry acts more like a rogue than royalty, keeping the company of drunken highway robber Falstaff and other shady characters. Meanwhile, from the north come rumours of a rebellion led by the son of the Percy family, the valiant Hotspur. One of Shakespeare's most celebrated dramatic achievements, this play mixes history and comedy effortlessly, moving from scenes of royalty to rough drinking dens with ease. This production matches its superb characters with great actors, particularly in Anthony Quayle's magnificent Falstaff.

Credits:

Starring: Anthony Quayle, Jon Finch, David Gwillim, Tim Piggott-Smith, Brenda Bruce

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video Henry IV Part 2 (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

In 1978, the BBC set itself the task of filming all of William Shakespeare's plays for television. The resulting productions, renowned for their loyalty to the text, utilised the best theatrical and television directors and brought highly praised performances from leading contemporary actors.

Henry IV Part Two (1979): Prince Harry's father figures are ageing. While the King frets about the Prince's lifestyle, Falstaff continues to make merry. But there are serious matters afoot. Prince John has to lead the King's army against an uprising, and Hal is forced to reassess his attitude to responsibility as his father grows increasingly sick. Retaining the same cast and director as Part One, this production assuredly charts the transformation of the Prince. It reflects the play's darker and more intimate focus, but contrasts it with colourful scenes from Falstaff's Eastcheap as well as the bucolic Gloucestershire of Shallow and Silence.

Credits:

Starring: David Gwillim, Michele Dotrice, Jon Finch, Bruce Purchase and Brenda Bruce.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

video An Inspector Calls (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Emotionally powerful and sharply relevant, this is a stylish new adaptation of JB Priestley’s timeless masterpiece. An Inspector Calls is both an enthralling mystery and a scathing critique of a hypocritical, class-obsessed society. Set in 1912, it vividly evokes a thriving industrial age built on crippling social inequality. Taking place over the course of a single night, this taut, affecting and ultimately tragic story centres on the prosperous Birling family. They receive a surprise visit from Inspector Goole who investigating the suicide of a young girl, a former factory worker of Mr Birling’s. Interrogating each family member in turn, Goole’s incisive questioning reveals that each one not only had a connection to the girl but also may have played a significant part in her demise. As the family’s callous actions are brought to light, so are dark and shameful secrets that threaten to tear the Birling household apart and destroy its reputation.

Credits:

A Drama Republic production for BBC. Director: Aisling Walsh (Wallander, Room at the Top); Adapted by: Helen Edmundson (The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Coram Boy) from the play by JB Priestley; Producer: Howard Ella (The Interceptor, Good Cop); Executive Producers: Greg Brenman (The Honourable Woman, Peaky Blinders) Roanna Benn (My Mad Fat Diary, Prisoners’ Wives). Starring: David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, War Horse, Harry Potter); Ken Stott (The Hobbit, The Missing, Rebus, Messiah); Miranda Richardson (Mapp & Lucia, Testament of Youth, Parade’s End).

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

This collection features stunning film adaptations of classic and contemporary plays from Sophocles and Shakespeare, to Oscar Wilde, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Bernard Shaw and contemporary writers, Michael Frayn and Joe Penhall.