The BFI & Radio Times Television Festival

The BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, the biggest, most exciting public television festival in the UK, featuring the very best TV shows and a star-studded line up of talent, returns for a second outing at BFI Southbank from Friday 12 April – Sunday 14 April 2019.

Co-programmed by the BFI and Radio Times, the festival draws on the programming expertise and knowledge of both organisations. Over three days the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival will showcase some of the biggest hits on TV today, previewing the most eagerly awaited new shows of 2019, as well as celebrating classic series and perennial favourites and featuring unique archive television events that spotlight rarely-seen or recently recovered ‘lost’ classics. This year’s archival programme showcases the earliest surviving television adverts, including the first UK television commercial from ITV’s launch night on 22 September 1955  for Gibbs SR Toothpaste which revolutionised how advertisers sold products to the British public from the comfort of their front rooms. The event will also screen a compilation of rarely seen David Bowie television interviews and performances and a special presentation of a ‘missing’ 1969 performance of The Scaffold Live at the Talk of the Town, recently recovered by global lost TV hunter Philip Morris.

The BFI is responsible for maintaining the BFI National Archive, home to one of the most significant archives of film and television in the world and is the UK’s designated National Television Archive. This includes the largest accessible archive of British TV programmes, an estimated 750,000 titles collected since the late 1950s.

The BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped annual programme, which seeks to screen TV material long thought lost, will mount a special event during the Festival featuring the latest exciting recovery from Philip Morris, CEO of Television International Enterprises Archives (TIEA)An archive television archaeologist who has traveled the world to track down missing episodes, Philip’s never say die attitude has helped him over the years recover a wealth of ‘lost’ British Television.

Fresh from rediscovering lost episodes of Morecambe and Wise in Sierra Leone, the Festival welcomes Phillip Morris back to BFI Southbank to give news of, and clips from, his latest finds, plus present his most recent return, The Scaffold Live at the Talk of the Town (1969, BBC). Unseen for 50 years since its original transmission, this prime-time BBC TV special, filmed at the popular ‘Talk of the Town’ nightclub at London’s Hippodrome, features the 60s Liverpool group whose unique mixture of pop, poetry and comedy made them regulars in the pop charts with hits including, Thank U Very Much and Do You Remember.

Filmed just weeks after the band celebrated their world-wide number one success with Lily the Pink, the original 16mm film of The Scaffold Live at the Talk of the Town was discovered by Philip Morris in Nigeria. What makes this remarkable find even more significant is the presence of colour subcarrier chromadots on the black and white print, which like the recently recovered early Morecambe and Wise episodes, offers an opportunity for colour recovery to experience the programme as it was originally filmed and broadcast. We are thrilled that The Scaffold (Mike McGear McCartneyJohn Gorman and Roger McGough) will join Philip Morris to introduce this special screening on Saturday 13 April, 7:30pm, NFT3.

The festival will also present a unique programme of Britain’s Earliest TV Ads drawn from the extensive television holdings of the BFI National Archive. When commercial television arrived in Britain in 1955 it resulted in the birth of an exciting new industry. Screening on Saturday 13 April at 1:00pm in NFT3, this specially curated event, hosted by John Lloyd (Spitting ImageQI), features some of the earliest television adverts in the BFI’s national collection, showcasing fledgling offerings from a nascent industry with an esoteric array of sometimes amusing, unintentionally hilarious but often informative mini-masterpieces.

The screening will include TV Talk, an informative film made by creative ad agency Lintas, exploring the possibilities and problems facing advertisers on the eve of commercial television in the UK. The event also brings together the six surviving adverts that were transmitted as part of ITV’s launch night schedule on 22 September, 1955. The programme will also explore the culturally unique British phenomenon of the admag, with extracts from these advertising magazine shows which were an early alternative to commercial breaks. Formatted as shoppers guides and fronted by celebrity presenters, such as Anne Shelton, admags extoled the virtues of various products and were extremely popular with viewers until the infamous Pilkington Report of 1962, which led to changes in legislation in television advertising which marked the death knell for the admag.

Undeniably a true giant of modern British culture, the Festival celebrates David Bowie on the box with,  From the BFI Archive: David Bowie on Saturday 13 April, 2:30pm, NFT1, an enthralling programme of forgotten footage of the iconic star on British television across the decades, featuring clips from revealing interviews, unexpected acting appearances and dazzling music performances.  The line-up includes a legendary duet with fellow glam star Marc Bolan on Marc, Bolan’s 1977 television show, an unguarded 1979 interview for Thames TV with Good Afternoon’s Mavis Nicholson and electrifying performances at Pleasure at the Palace and Channel 4’s 90’s Friday night schedule stalwart TFI Friday.

News Editor

Author: News Editor

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