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FILMS ON TV AT CHRISTMAS, PART 1: 1957-1966

Christmas is traditionally the time for traditions, and in Britain that includes the big film on the box after the Queen. For five decades British television has taken Christmas Day as the occasion for the small-screen premiere of a major feature film. This year it’s Disney’s Frozen on BBC1. But when did this tradition begin, and what are some of the other films that have featured down through the years? What follows is a year-by-year selection of them.

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Sheldon Times: The Early Days

In 1972, the 1971 film “Diamonds are Forever” reached North Shields, England. I saw it, at the Classic Cinema, Monkseaton. It was my chosen birthday present that year, from my parents. The next week, I got into a discussion with Sheldon about the film, in the playground of our primary school. We discussed the opening sequence, at some length. We were 7 years old. I clearly remember his specific, articulate and passionate engagement with the film. It was the first film debate I recall having in my life. That conversation is burned crystal clear into my memory. And it wouldn’t be our last…

Stolen Face (1952)

stolen-faceSixty years ago saw the British television premiere of the 1952 thriller Stolen Face. In itself, not a major event. But it was a first in two other respects also: the first showing on the commercial network ITV of a Hammer Films production; and the first cinema film to be networked across all the existing ITV regions. 

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Woodfall Films on Talking Pictures TV

look-back-in-angerThe early films of the production company Woodfall, which include most of the key titles in the British ‘New Wave’ of the early 1960s, are coming to Talking Pictures TV from 7 November.

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Up the Junction (1965)

up-the-junction-3-11-65-2Fifty-one years ago tonight, Kenneth (Ken) Loach’s television production of Nell Dunn’s Up the Junction was broadcast for the first time. It was a breakthrough in several respects: for its refusal of traditional narrative and dramatic structure; for being shot largely on 16mm film rather than as-live on videotape; for its inclusion of a harrowing abortion scene; and for drawing a huge number of viewer complaints.

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