Forgotten, Neglected and Lost: The Television Play in the Early 1950s – The Case of Anastasia (1953)

Lezlie Cooke

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The study of early British television drama has been made problematic by the fact that no programmes survive from before 1953 and only a few of the telerecordings made from 1953–54 have survived. Of those telerecordings Rudolph Cartier’s dramatisation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) has received considerable attention because of its innovative style and controversial subject-matter. Yet there are other telerecordings of plays made before Nineteen Eighty-Four which have received little or no attention, partly because some have only recently come to light and because access to them has been difficult. This article considers why television plays from the early 1950s have been forgotten, neglected or lost altogether, paying particular attention to one, Anastasia (1953), which was thought lost until relatively recently. While the stylistic innovations of Nineteen Eighty-Four have been rightly celebrated, the exceptional nature of Cartier’s production makes it unrepresentative of most television plays from the period. The existence of plays such as Anastasia, however, offers an opportunity to provide another perspective on the television play in the early 1950s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number1
Early online date19 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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