What about Breakfast At Tiffany's?

Film  Tonight I had the privilege of watching the version of Breakfast at Tiffany's broadcast on Boxing Day last year on Channel 5 at 9:05 in the morning. Yes, 5 broadcast a PG rated romance between a call girl and gigolo at breakfast time with these sponsorship buffers no less:

But what was interesting about this broadcast was that Channel 5 took the decision to remove all the scenes featuring Mickey Rooney's yellow faced turn as Holly's neighbour Yunioshi. As expected, the usual people were quite cross about this.  Apologies for this Daily Mail link.

In the thorough retelling of the making of the film, "Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman", author Sam Wasson interviews the producers of the film who talk about how they pleased with director Blake Edwards to remove the scenes.

But they were in New York, he was in LA and the director who'd been friends with Rooney for years was adamant that they stay in, despite test screenings indicating that audiences found those scenes uncomfortable and didn't laugh at all. 

The producers did get Edwards to shoot two versions of the one scene in which Holly and Yunioshi properly interact, one with Rooney, one without with a view to cutting him out completely from the finished film. He was not, which Edwards later regretted. 

Rooney for his part said just before he died that he shouldn't have done it. 

So what's Tiffany's like without the yellow face? Blissful and if you were showing this version of the film to someone as their first go around they would not have known that anything was missing. Whoever prepared this was immensely sympathetic. 

Mostly the removals are achieved through dissolves as in the opening scenes when Yunioshi complains about Holly pushing his buzzer to let him in and she's followed by one of her clients from the evening. Instead of her placating him, it dissolves to Paul arriving in the taxi. 

Of course, this does have the knock on effect of removing Holly's first proper appearance so the first chance we really get to see her is when Paul calls on her as he arrives in the building to use the telephone. He's much more of a viewpoint character into her world. 

Yunoshi is still a ghostly presence. He's mentioned a few times, notably when he calls the police at the party. When Paul goes to answer the phone, we see him hear the ring, cut to eyepatch joke, then cut back to him putting the phone down. No information is lost. 

In the drunk staircase scene, we cut directly from the moment Holly falls onto Paul's shoulders to her complaining about being interrupted and it simply looks like she means by herself rather than the cutaway to her upstairs neighbour from above. It works just as well. 

Tiffany's has always been an uncomfortable watch for me because of these scenes. Much as I loved the film, and I do love the film, I've said before I would give anything to be Holly Golightly in those opening scenes, I haven't gone back to it because of them. 

So what you lose from some of Holly's jokes, you gain from not having to deal with this racist stereotype stinking up the place, whose presence disrupting the tone of the film, outweighs actually how much screen time he has. Removing him matters not a jot. 

Ethically, of course, all of this is quite dodgy. Few of the original creators are still around to sign off on it and if should never replace the theatrical cut, which is an artefact of its time and beloved by many as is. 

But as an alternative version for those of us who're pulled out of the atmosphere of the story whenever Rooney's bucktooth caricature blunders through, it's dynamite. 

And if this was how some kids were introduced to the film that Boxing Day morning, well fine. 

A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1967.

In the Netflix series  Pretend It's A City, Fran Lebowitz is asked at a Q&A what she thinks about new technology and whether it's right for a two-year-old to have an iPad and how that will change them. Given her kvetching throughout most of the rest of the series and how she herself doesn't use social media and the like, the answer clearly surprises the audience. The writer says, "Yes, she will be different, that is true, but she may not be worse, she may be better, we don't know this, it's possible this will make them better. It will make them better at the world of iPads, because that will be their world."

Douglas Adams says something similar in an essay he wrote for The Sunday Times in 1999 and subsequently republished posthumously in The Salmon of Doubt. He suggests there's a set of rules that describe our relationship to technology:
  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary, and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
I was born into the world only seven years after the introduction of colour television transmissions in 1967. So like youngsters born in the past decade or so, I grew up in the transitional period of a new technology and one that would have a profound effect on how the nation viewed itself. For at least a decade, I remember watching broadcasts in both colour and black and white, with my first viewings of Moonlighting, My So-Called Life, numerous sitcoms, and some of Quantum Leap on a small, ancient black and white Bakelite TV.

But there'll be people born not that long after me, for whom colour television was perfectly normal, just as there'll be others who turned up on Earth before me who saw colour television as just plain alien magic. What must it have been like to see films in colour for the first time since they were on theatrical release, things like The Wizard of Oz regaining their Technicolor power. The closest I can think of is the number of films that many of us originally saw on a panned and scanned VHS tape that are now available in their original aspect ratio in high definition.

Which is why I agree with Fran. Although I'll admit the extent to which young people are online and are absorbing new technology is far more profound a step than being able to watch Snooker and not have some of the balls merge into the background.  As she says, although people will change, we can't say for certain if it's to the good or bad because the internet, like the BBC, has the capacity to inform, educate, and entertain, and it's up to the user to choose which they partake in. But I'd argue that kids are even more progressive than ever before (for the most part), and they'll be all right.

1, 2, 3, 4

First Ever Show on Radio 1 Tony Blackburn 30th September 1967. Complete unscoped.
"This is where it all began, that Saturday morning in 1967 seconds after Robin Scott announced 'Time for Switching' Tony Blackburn (pictured) leapt into action playing 'Flowers In The rain' to launch the very first Radio 1 Breakfast Show. This is the complete version no scoping - every track every jingle every trail."
[Noel Tyrrel]

The BBC changes its tune to play the sounds of the sixties
"Facing fleets of pirate radio stations and teenagers hungry to hear the latest hits, the BBC had to change its tune."
[History Extra]

How and when did the BBC's four main radio stations (Radios One, Two, Three and Four) get their names? Surely Radio One didn't come first?
"No, they were named simultaneously, I think in 1967, to replace the previous three stations."
[The Guardian]

From the Observer archive, 1 October 1967: Radio 4 finds its feet with its own news of the world
"Pop comes to the Beeb, but it's the changing news schedules that catch the ear of radio critic Paul Ferris."
[The Observer]

Local Radio

Archive on 4: Close to Home - The Story of Local Radio
"As well as the launch of BBC Radio 1 to 4, 1967 also saw the arrival of the BBC's first batch of local radio stations: Radio Leicester on 8th November, Radio Sheffield on 15th November and Radio Merseyside on 22nd November."
[BBC Sounds]

BBC Radio Merseyside Opens
"We are going to set Merseyside talking — about itself. Our simple aim here on Merseyside is to get the community talking, and to bring a new form of self-expression through our microphones to Britain’s most lively area."
[Radio Times via Transdiffusion]

Recording The Records
"When BBC local radio launched in 1967, an agreement about paying for the music broadcast by stations was reached between the corporation and the agencies representing artists and publishers. The arrangement was an up-front annual lump sum to be paid to the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL). The BBC was responsible for managing the ‘needle time’ allowance for each station."


The Hecklers
"A BBC documentary by Joseph Strick.  In this fast-moving programme the well-known American film director Joseph Strick shows us the way the British behave during the heat of a General Election.  To him, as a foreigner, the lively battles between hecklers and speakers are a fascinating example of British democracy at work. So this film brings to life - in a completely new way - the campaign which ended a year ago tonight."
[BBC Clips][BBC Programme Index]

The Marshall McLuhan Golden Probe Show
"Marshall McLuhan tests his communication theories on the audience of Release on BBC Two in September 1967. He uses 20 'Golden Probes' - statements about a variety of subjects - and viewers can test their results with a form in the Radio Times."
[BBC Clips]

Talkback debate about Marshall McLuhan's Release
"David Coleman chairs a debate about Marshall McLuhan on Talkback in October 1967, following the broadcast of McLuhan's experimental programme Release."
[BBC Clips]

Pheasants to Formosa
"Documentary about the work of The Pheasant Trust in Norfolk, and an investigation into Taiwanese practices to provide Chinese medicine."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

Match of the Day: Norwich v. Sheffield Wednesday
"A BBC telerecording of the fifth round FA Cup match, Norwich City v. Sheffield Wednesday."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

Benjamin Britten And His Festival
"Behind the scenes look at the Aldeburgh festival, including interviews with Benjamin Britten and the other major players."
[East Anglian Film Archive]

Man Alive: All on a Summer's Day
"A colour film about the annual village fete at Stoke St. Gregory in Somerset, from the bashing in of the tent pegs to the evening jam session in the marquee."
[BBC Rewind]

Something'll Happen By Friday
"This is a BBC North documentary on the Whitby Gazette. Accompanied by a light-hearted commentary, the film provides a profile of the paper and of those on making it, stressing its local character."
[Yorkshire Film Archive]


Lord Hill: Shock at the BBC
"About nine o’clock on the evening of 25 July 1967 my wife and I were dozing peacefully in front of our television set at home in Hertfordshire when the telephone rang."
Lord Hill became chairman of the governors.

The BBC correspondent who found Chichester’s Gypsy Moth IV
"We’ve just found Sir Francis Chichester . . . he’s down there in Gypsy Moth IV. She’s rolling very heavily. There’s no sign of him on deck. It’s one of the worst seas I’ve ever seen – or ever want to see . . . in the distance there, is the ugly great mass of Cape Horn . . ."
[Look and Learn]


The first BBC television live broadcast from an RAF plane
"Welcome to Royal Air Force Station, Watton for tonight’s B.B.C. live television outside broadcast. I do want to stress that this is an engineering experiment. No-one knows exactly what’s going to happen – but we know what we want . ."
[Look and Learn]


“Why Does it All Have to be so Terribly Loud?”
"The Pink Floyd’s appearance on The Look of the Week."
[Off The Telly]

The History of Colour TV in the UK:
"Find out about the history of colour TV in the UK, including the inventions that led to its introduction, the first broadcasts in Britain, and how people watched early colour television programmes."
[Science and Media Museum]

South Today: Colour TV
"A BBC exhibition displaying new colour television sets."
[BBC Rewind]

How we made: Alison Prince and Brian Cant on Trumpton
"We couldn't do flames with stop-motion animation. So the fire brigade never went near a fire."
[The Guardian]

Peep-peep, Pandit and ‘papers: Richard Carpenter and Look and Read
"What did Richard Carpenter once describe as: “The most difficult thing I’ve ever written in my life”? His first ever television commission? Three series’ worth of comedy about a small cast limited to a single set? Attempting to make The Adventures of Black Beauty in any way watchable?"
[Off The Telly]

Remembering the Monumental 1967 Broadcast of “Our World”
"... on June 25th 1967 a monumental, yet little-remembered television event was broadcast across the globe. For the first time ever, a tv program aired live internationally across continents and time zones via three communication satellites. “Our World” as the program was titled,  featured live feeds from 14 different countries and was broadcast to another 24 countries who didn’t contribute to the program itself."
[My Local Radio]

From the Observer archive, 25 June 1967: Wimbledon's Watchmen
"The Observer's Briefing column gets a commentator's eye view of Wimbledon."
[The Observer]

News: BBC Two to Sponsor Silbury Hill Archaeological Dig
"David Attenborough discusses how BBC2 is set to cover, in colour, a three year dig at Europe's biggest prehistoric mound in Silbury Hill, Wiltshire."
[BBC Rewind]

News Time: BBC Symphony Orchestra
"The BBC Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal, playing Beethoven's 5th Symphony. The conductor, Antal Dorati, discusses changes with members of the orchestra."
[BBC Rewind]


Annual Report and Accounts of the British Broadcasting Corporation 1967-68
"In this report the BBC looks back over a year full of activity following the White Paper on Broadcasting of December, 1966.  There were new ventures in television and radio."

BBC Handbook 1968
"You have only to glance at the photographs in this edition of the Handbook (which celebrates its fortieth birthday this year) to be aware of the great variety of programmes broadcast in 1967 on the BBC's three radio and two television networks."
[World Radio History]