TV Mark Lawson filled a few pages in The Guardian today with a rather good piece about Play For Today and whether, as Kevin Spacey suggested, it should return:
"But this historical stereotype, that the slot was a weekly broadcast for the Socialist Workers Party, is questionable. It's true that the production team and several of the writers, including Trevor Griffiths and Jim Allen, had strong Marxist sympathies. Allen's United Kingdom (1982) - a two-hour epic about a riot on a housing estate - is probably the most directly leftwing British TV drama ever made, challenged only by another script of the same vintage: Alan Bleasdale's The Black Stuff (1980), which began as a Play for Today before spawning the award-winning series, The Boys from the Blackstuff."
What's forgotten though is that since PFT ended, production methods have changed drastically. The reason that slots such as this and The Wednesday Play could exist was because much of the work was very wordy and largely studio based, more often than not shot on videotape. In many ways it was television radio.
These days we're far less inclined to watch something in primetime that looks like a soap opera but isn't a soap opera. Abigail's Party would be shot on location or a set created to look very much like it, and the verbal comedy and pathos would be reduced to be make way for visual comedy and ethos.

But there are still single dramas throughout the schedules but the difference is that they're produced by television writers for television rather than by theatre writers who can also do television. I still think there's room for both and as I've said before that there's a massive hole in the schedule were theatre adaptations and broadcasts of live theatre could and should be.

No comments:

Post a comment