1970s 1980s BBC Billy Smart Empire Road Radio Times Radio Times covers

BBC drama productions on the cover of the Radio Times 6: Series and serials, 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.

One notable change in the editorial coverage of the Radio Times in the late 1970s and early 80s when compared with earlier periods is the absence of cover feature promotion for the BBC’s most successful popular drama series of the time, with such long-runners as Angels (BBC1 1975-83), All Creatures Great and Small (BBC1 1978-90), Juliet Bravo (BBC1 1980-85) and Bergerac (BBC1 1981-91) only receiving one or no covers.

RT Empire Road

The cover for Empire Road (18 August 1979) illustrates some of the values and intentions of the Radio Times in a bold and inventive phase of the magazine’s history. The show, a BBC Birmingham multiracial serial shown on BBC2, was neither a mainstream popular success, nor a prestige drama deriving from a classic literary source. The image and text doesn’t feature familiar star actors, and gives an impression of what the series is attempting to do (“a good-humoured slice of life as it is lived by West Indians and Asians”). The portrait, inviting us to share a meal with an afro-carribean family, is one that makes a quiet statement when reproduced on the cover of a mass-circulation magazine, both welcoming and uncompromising: these people and their programme are part of the BBC family – we hope that you might want to join them.

Radio Times covers: Series and serials 1975-84

04 Jan 1975  The Venturers

18 Jan 1975  The Love School

15 Mar 1975  The Fight Against Slavery

03 May 1975  The Brothers

07 Jun 1975  Ten from the 20s

23 Aug 1975  Oil Strike North/ Quiller

04 Oct 1975  Poldark

22 Nov 1975  Moll Flanders

17 Jan 1976  The Glittering Prizes

28 Feb 1976  Our Mutual Friend

03 Apr 1976  Angels

24 Apr 1976  The Onedin Line (3)

04 Sep 1976  The Duchess of Duke Street

01 Jan 1977  Wings

29 Jan 1977  Fathers and Families

05 Feb 1977  Headmaster

25 Jun 1977  The Onedin Line (4)

13 Aug 1977 Marie Curie

03 Sep 1977 Target

24 Sep 1977 Anna Karenina

15 Oct 1977 Treasure Island

07 Jan 1978 All Creatures Great and Small

21 Jan 1978 The Mayor of Casterbridge

04 Mar 1978 Pennies from Heaven

01 Apr 1978 The Standard

29 Apr 1978 The Devil’s Crown

16 Sep 1978 Tycoon

23 Sep 1978 Wuthering Heights

28 Oct 1978 The Voyage of Charles Darwin

06 Jan 1979 Telford’s Change

03 Mar 1979 The Serpent Son

17 Mar 1979 My Son, My Son

12 May 1979 A Family Affair

19 May 1979 Crime and Punishment

21 Jul 1979 The Onedin Line (5)

18 Aug 1979 Empire Road

01 Sep 1979 Prince Regent

08 Sep 1979 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

06 Oct 1979 Penmarric

05 Jan 1980 Breakaway

01 Mar 1980 The History of Mr Polly

08 Mar 1980 Thérèse Raquin

22 Mar 1980 A Question of Guilt

04 Oct 1980 Shoestring

25 Oct 1980 Oppenheimer

10 Jan 1981 Sons and Lovers

14 Feb 1981 When the Boat Comes In

28 Feb 1981 The Life and Times of David Lloyd George

25 Apr 1981 The Chinese Detective

05 Sep 1981 The Day of the Triffids

19 Sep 1981 Fanny by Gaslight

10 Oct 1981 The Borgias

07 Nov 1981 Wilfred and Eileen

09 Jan 1982 The Bell

06 Feb 1982 Nancy Astor

06 Mar 1982 Maggie

20 Mar 1982 Love is Old, Love is New

15 May 1982 Frost in May

31 Jul 1982 Jane

18 Sep 1982 Smiley’s People

30 Oct 1982 Beau Geste

06 Nov 1982 The Barchester Chronicles

08 Jan 1983 Bergerac

05 Mar 1983 My Cousin Rachel

10 Sep 1983 The Old Men at the Zoo

17 Sep 1983 Give Us a Break

15 Oct 1983 By the Sword Divided

19 Nov 1983 Doctor Who (12)

10 Mar 1984 Strangers and Brothers

07 Jul 1984 A Winter Harvest

15 Sep 1984 The Tripods

06 Oct 1984 Tenko

17 Nov 1984 The Box of Delights

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

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