BBC Radio 4

    Ten remarkable guests from John Freeman's Face to Face

    Head of Interactive, Radio 3

    1. Tony Hancock

    Tony Hancock opened tonight's Archive on 4 about Face to Face, the hugely influential interview programme that ran on BBC television from 1959 to 1962. In the programme, produced by Chris Ledgard, Sue MacGregor interviews producer and creator of the programme Hugh Burnett. We learn about its presenter John Freeman - who didn't want to participate in this programme - and the many remarkable people who appeared in the Face to Face chair.

    According to Wikipedia, Freeman interviewed 35 guests during the first series of Face to Face (the programme was later revived - between 1989 and 1998), only two of whom were women - Edith Sitwell and Simone Signoret. These photographs of Face to Face guests, taken during production by unnamed staff photographers, come from the BBC's picture library. The captions are just as they appear in the archive.

    Listen to the programme on the Radio 4 web site and watch BBC Two's heartbreaking profile of Hancock on the iPlayer.

    2. Gilbert Harding

    Gilbert Harding appeared in Face To Face on 18th Sept 1960

    3. Martin Luther King

    Dr Martin Luther King, Minister of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, talks with producer Hugh Burnett in artist Feliks Topolski's home before taking part in BBC TV's 'Face To Face' programme on Sunday, 29th October 1961. The Negro leader in the struggle for civil rights in the Southern States of America flew to London for this special live transmisson of 'Face To Face'.

    4. Edith Sitwell

    On May 6th 1959 the distinguished author and poet Dame Edith Sitwell was interviewed on her life, her ideals and ambitions by John Freeman

    5. Stirling Moss

    Stirling Moss. World famous racing driver appeared on Face To Face with John Freeman on 12th June 1960

    6. Cecil Beaton

    Cecil Beaton with Felix Topolski and Hugh Burnett on 18th February 1962

    7. Bertrand Russell

    John Freeman, Bertrand Russell and Hugh Burnett, 4th March 1959. The last survivor of a dead epoch - this is how the distinguished philosopher describes himself. Now is his eighty-seventh year, he has used his long life to challenge the accepted ideas and conventional attitudes of the day. Lord Russell discusses with john Freeman his appearance, his achievements and his unfulfilled ambitions

    8. Carl Jung

    Professor Carl Gustav Jung and John Freeman in Jung's home in Zurich in 1959

    9. Henry Moore

    Picture shows Henry Moore being interviewed by John Freeman in 'Face To Face' (for transmission Sunday 21st February 1960). The programme moved out of its usual setting in the studio. For the first time in the series the interview was recorded by television cameras in the subject's home; in this case, Mr. Moore's studio at Much Hadham in Hertfordshire. An interview with Henry Moore is something of a rarity, for he says 'It is a mistake for the sculptor to speak or write very often about his job. It releases tensions needed for his work'.

    10. John Reith

    The subject of 'Face To Face' on Sunday, October 30th 1960 at 9.45pm is John Reith - first Lord Reith of Stonehaven - the man who inspired the pattern of broadcasting not only in Britain but in all the other countries which took the BBC as a model when setting up their own broadcasting systems. He was Director-General when the BBC started the world's first regular television service in 1936, but this will be the first time he has taken part in a television programme.

    Steve Bowbrick is editor of the Radio 4 blog


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