Six and 'Five More': Experiments in Filmed Drama for BBC2

Lezlie Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1964–6 John McGrath produced two series of filmed dramas for BBC2, the first under the series title Six, while the second series, provisionally titled 'Five More', was transmitted without a series title. At a time when most drama was being produced from the television studio, some of it still being transmitted live, this was a new departure, with the first six films pre-dating Up the Junction (1965) and the second series predating Cathy Come Home (1966), the two Wednesday Plays which have been celebrated for making the breakthrough to filmed drama at the BBC. Unlike the Loach/Garnett films, which were made by the Drama Department, McGrath’s series were commissioned by Huw Wheldon’s Documentary and Music Programmes department, which also produced Peter Watkins’ Culloden (1964), and were described as a hybrid of ‘documentary fiction’. In fact, they were an eclectic mix of different forms and styles, from Ken Russell’s silent cinema pastiche, The Diary of a Nobody (1964) to Philip Saville’s experimental The Logic Game (1965) and John Irvin’s lyrical Strangers (1966). This article seeks to reconsider these films as examples of forgotten television drama from the mid-1960s and to examine the claim that they represent a new form of ‘documentary fiction’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-323
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Issue number3
Early online dateJun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • ‘documentary fiction’
  • BBC2
  • filmed drama
  • forgotten television drama
  • John McGrath

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