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1970s, 1980s, BBC, Billy Smart, La Ronde, Radio Times, Radio Times covers

BBC drama productions on the cover of the Radio Times 5: Single plays, 1975-84

To help clarify my thinking about what sort of television drama gets remembered and forgotten in Britain, I’ve been looking at how the Radio Times publicised BBC drama over 1946-82, the period covered by the ‘Forgotten Television Drama in the UK’ project.

I’ve put together lists of all of the covers of the Radio Times that promoted original BBC drama productions during these years. As this information hasn’t previously been collated or put online before I’m posting these lists up here in six parts, where a general readership of magazine collectors and fans of particular programmes may find them useful.

RT La Ronde

The Radio Times of the late 1970s and early 1980s was a publication of tremendous confidence and imagination, reflected in its covers that promoted television plays. Buoyed by the huge circulation created by holding the monopoly on publication of BBC weekly listings, the publication at this time is marked by a high level of intellectual curiosity in its articles, and a wide use of imaginative illustration. The cover for 17 April 1982 – publicising a Play of the Month revival of La Ronde – illustrates this open approach, the image conveying the play’s novel structure (a daisy chain of copulation) and aesthetic of fin de siècle Vienna rather than promoting particular star performers.

Radio Times covers: Single plays, 1975-84

15 Feb 1975 Play of the Month: School for Scandal

19 Apr 1975 Wodehouse Playhouse: The Truth About George

26 Apr 1975 Private Affairs: A Dream of Living

11 Oct 1975 Play for Today: Plaintiffs and Defendants

17 Apr 1976 Play of the Month: The Chester Mystery Plays

18 Sep 1976 Rogue Male

09 Oct 1976 Play for Today: The Elephants’ Graveyard

20 Nov 1976 Play of the Month: Look Back in Anger

11 Feb 1977 Life at Stake: ‘Are You Doctor Herrema?’

12 Mar 1977 Play of the Month: The Ambassadors

09 Jul 1977 Horizon: The Amazing Doctor Newton

29 Oct 1977 Play of the Month: You Never Can Tell

26 Nov 1977 Play for Today: The Mayor’s Charity

25 Feb 1978 Play of the Week: She Fell Among Thieves

02 Dec 1978 The BBC Television Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

22 Sep 1979 Churchill and the Generals

24 Nov 1979 Suez

15 Dec 1979 Play of the Week: Speed King

06 Sep 1980 Escape: Lord Lucan

18 Oct 1980 The BBC Television Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew

15 Nov 1980 Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

14 Mar 1981 Unity

30 May 1981 Playhouse: Going Gently

27 Jun 1981 No Country for Old Men – The Long Exile of Jonathan Swift

24 Oct 1981 Byron – A Personal Tour

12 Dec 1981 The BBC Television Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

27 Feb 1982 Baal

17 Apr 1982 La Ronde

03 Jul 1982 Playhouse: Come Into the Garden Maud/ A Song at Twilight

21 Aug 1982 Play of the Month: The Critic

18 Dec 1982 The World About Us: The Forgotten Voyage

19 Mar 1983 To the Lighthouse

09 Jul 1983 The BBC Television Shakespeare: Cymbeline

05 Nov 1983 Martin Luther – Heretic

12 Nov 1983 Arena: The Ghost Writer

26 Nov 1983 An Englishman Abroad

11 Feb 1984 The Weather in the Streets

25 Feb 1984 Play for Today: Z for Zachariah

10 Mar 1984 Play for Today: Desert of Lies

26 May 1984 Journey into the Shadows: A Portrait of Gwen John

22 Sep 1984 Threads

10 Nov 1984 Oxbridge Blues: Oxbridge Blues

(Thanks to Simon Coward for his assistance in double-checking the lists)

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