1960s Events Forgotten Black TV Drama Jan Carew & Sylvia Wynter

Forgotten Black TV Drama at BFI Southbank: The Big Pride (1961) + The Day of the Fox (1961)

Our Forgotten Black TV Drama season at BFI Southbank continues at 5.20pm on Sunday 10 February with a double bill of two ATV Drama ’61 plays written by Jan Carew (the first with his wife, Sylvia Wynter), both directed by Herbert Wise.

Nadia Cattouse and Johnny Sekka in The Big Pride (1961)
Nadia Cattouse and Johnny Sekka in The Big Pride (1961)

The Big Pride (28 May 1961) features William Marshall, Johnny Sekka, Barbara Assoon and Nadia Cattouse in a drama about ‘Three men [who] break out of prison. Two of them try to escape – not only from the law but from their past and the harsh reality of themselves and their condition. In their struggle to do this they find themselves as men and become part of a legend, part of a song.’ (TV Times, 26 May 1961, p.21). An article in the TV Times explained that Jan Carew wrote the play ‘about convicts who escape and devise an unusual way of staying free.’ He then passed it to his wife, Sylvia Wynter, who developed the parts that were played by Nadia Cattouse and Barbara Assoon: ‘I noticed that he had left out any love interest and that there was only one small woman’s role … So I enlarged the role of the mother of one of the convicts and wrote in a part for a girl-friend of another convict.’ (TV Times, 26 May 1961, p.15).

Season co-curator Stephen Bourne wrote about The Big Pride in his book Black in the British Frame (Continuum, 2001):

Big Pride 1

Big Pride 2

the day of the fox
Sammy Davis Jnr and Yolande in The Day of the Fox (1961)

The Day of the Fox (10 December 1961) features Sammy Davis Jnr as Beppo, a proud but disillusioned revolutionary who aims to destroy the remnants of white colonial rule in a new African nation. He wants to overthrow his brother-in-law, President Rajan (Zia Mohyeddin), who he believes has assimilated the white man’s politics. Beppo advocates ‘black power’ and wants to incite a violent revolution among the black population. The political themes explored in the play remain incredibly relevant 58 years later.

Until relatively recently it was thought that no copy of The Day of the Fox had survived, but a negative of the original telerecording was discovered to reside in the BFI National Archive and we are delighted to be able to screen the play for the first time since it was broadcast in 1961.

Lez Cooke (Season Co-Curator)

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