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BBC FOUR Autumn 2005
When Britain Went Bananas

BBC FOUR - Autumn highlights 2005



The Lost Decade Season


Little Kinsey

 

Little Kinsey lifts the lid on the nation's first-ever sex survey, conducted by the Mass Observation project in 1949, following the controversial Kinsey Report in the United States a year earlier.

 

The findings of Little Kinsey were considered so outrageous and shocking that they have been buried in an archive in the University of Sussex. Until now.

 

Thousands of people were asked about their sexual attitudes and behaviour and most answered the intrusive, intimate questions.

 

The results revealed a unique snapshot of the sexual lives of the British population.

 

One in four men admitted to having sex with prostitutes. One in five women said they'd had an extra-marital affair. One in five men said they'd had a homosexual experience, and women confessed to widespread disappointment in sex with their husbands.

 

A Testimony Films production.

 

FP

 

Our Hidden Lives

 

Sarah Parish, Richard Briers, Ian McDiarmid and Lesley Sharp star in the adaptation of award-winning writer Simon Garfield's best-selling book, in which he skilfully wove the diaries of ordinary people, converting the uncertain years following the Second World War into a wonderful and evocative patchwork.

 

Four main stories emerge - Maggie Joy Blunt is a thoroughly modern young woman, a post war 'Bridget Jones', and a would-be writer.

 

B Charles is a gay antiques dealer who lives in Edinburgh, an horrific snob who is terrified of being exposed.

 

Herbert Brush is a retired engineer who tends his allotment and writes appalling poetry, and Edie Rutherford is a Sheffield housewife, a forthright socialist but with some startling prejudices.

 

"I love these diaries. They are real stories, better than any novel." Margaret Forster

 

Our Hidden Lives has been adapted for BBC FOUR by David Eldridge and is directed by Michael Samuels.

 

A Diverse production.

 

FP

 

Soho Boho

 

Much of London was quiet and subdued after the war. Soho, in contrast, was a vibrant, buzzing magnet for artists, writers, poets, prostitutes, philosophers, crooks and misfits - an oasis of colour and energy in a drab and war-torn city.

 

Soho life followed no pattern, the only governance being the opening hours of the pubs, clubs and cafés, some of which - such as The Colony Rooms and The French House - still exist today.

 

The 'cast' - which included Dylan Thomas, Francis Bacon, Quentin Crisp and Jeffrey Bernard - had the freedom to behave as they saw fit.

 

Bad behaviour was almost expected; people shared what they had, and weren't judged for drunken or promiscuous behaviour.

 

Soho Boho brings to life this moment in Soho's glorious history, with testimonies from those who socialised there and rarely-seen archive footage, audio clips and photographs.

 

A BBC production.

 

KA

BBC FOUR Autumn season Censored at the Seaside: The Postcards of Donald McGill

 

Censored At The Seaside: The Postcards of Donald McGill

 

Donald McGill was a British institution whose saucy postcards became an integral part of the British seaside holiday, and at the height of his popularity were selling up to 16 million copies a year.

 

The bawdy humour came straight out of the music hall and it's a British tradition that led on to the Carry On films, Benny Hill and Les Dawson.

 

McGill's humour was thought to be so representative of the British character that it was championed by George Orwell in a famous essay, and Dennis Potter named him the 'Picasso of the Pier'.

 

Yet in the Fifties, with McGill almost in his eighties, he was prosecuted for obscenity.

 

He pleaded guilty to avoid being imprisoned and continued to work for another eight years, but the demise of the saucy seaside postcard had begun.

 

Censored At The Seaside:The Postcards of Donald McGill includes interviews with McGill enthusiasts Roy Hudd, Roy Hattersley and Michael Winner.

 

A Firefly production.

 

FP

 

The Improbable Mr Attlee

 

Professor David Reynolds takes a fresh look at the dramatic achievements and failures of Clement Attlee's post-war Labour Government.

 

The Second World War had bankrupted Britain, yet Attlee and his colleagues were not deterred.

 

They took a huge gamble and pressed on with one of the most far-reaching reform programmes in British history - which included creating a National Health Service and nationalising major industries - but they were unable to lift rationing and stumbled from one economic crisis to another.

 

At the heart of this remarkable story was a man caught between socialism, patriotism and Cabinet colleagues who craved his job.

 

Labour's unlikely leader was terse and uncharismatic but very effective - the improbable Mr Attlee.

 

A Blakeway production.

 

KA

 

When Britain went Bananas

 

The humble banana stars in a story of false dawns, crude Government control, spies, rebellion and law-abiding citizens turned criminal.

 

After a five-year absence, during which the banana achieved an almost mythical status, the first shipment of bananas arrived in Britain in December 1945.

 

It was the ideal Government propaganda tool, a convenient token of a brighter future.

 

With bananas restricted to children and pregnant women, the nation, oppressed under the controls of the State and desperate to taste that forbidden fruit, was all too willing to break the law.

 

As the Ministry fought hard to retain control with increasingly absurd measures, those flouting the law became more determined.

 

Housewives took to the streets and a cycle of oppression and rebellion ensued, threatening to tip over into popular revolt.

 

At the heart of When Britain went Bananas is a comical fruit that perfectly captures the spirit of a post-war nation.

 

A Firefly production.

 

FP

 

The Bad Food Guide

 

The Second World War didn't only devastate the lives and homes of the British people - it was also a culinary disaster for Britain.

 

There was strict rationing and the Government limited people to spending up to five shillings per meal.

 

The Ministry of Food looked for cheap proteins, and meats like snoek and whale were served in the restaurants.

 

The caterers weren't honest with their customers about the meat and the service was generally poor.

 

Raymond Postgate, left-wing historian and author, was frustrated. He wrote articles criticising the caterers and set up the Good Food Club where anyone could write in with suggestions of good food places.

 

In 1951, he published the first Good Food Guide with more than 500 recommendations - which marked a new era for British catering.

 

The Bad Food Guide features archive material, menus, and interviews including Sir Clement Freud, who opened his own restaurant after the war; Elizabeth Ray, one of the first Good Food Guide inspectors, and Oliver Postgate.

 

A BBC production.

 

NR

BBC FOUR Autumn season The Third Programme: High Culture for All

 

The Third Programme: High Culture for All

 

With war ending, 1945 was a triumph for the arts. Book sales boomed; audiences flocked to exhibitions, the theatre, opera and ballet.

 

Culture was to be part of the reconstruction of Britain after six years of war.

 

The Arts Council; the Institute of Contemporary Arts; the Aldeburgh Festival; the Cheltenham Festival; and the Edinburgh Festival were all created within a few years of the war.

 

BBC Radio's Third Programme started in 1946 and captured the post-war mood in Britain. It was accessible to all and broadcast only the very best of elite culture.

 

Yet within a few years, the Third Programme was in crisis. What happened to it reflected the profound changes in British society.

 

The Third Programme: High Culture for All charts the rise and fall of an idea: that high culture was good for everyone.

 

A BBC production.

 

NR

 

A Very British Olympics

 

As London looks forward to hosting the 2012 Olympics, the extraordinary spirit of the 1948 Olympics is captured with unique archive footage and interviews.

 

Athletes were housed in army camps. Rationing meant packed lunches and every nation was asked to bring its own food.

 

The Paralympics were created so that the war-injured could compete.

 

Hungarian Karoly Takacs learned to use his left hand after his right was shattered by a grenade - and won gold in pistol shooting. Emil Zatopek, a former Czech Army Colonel, trained in his army boots to win the 10,000 metres.

 

Crowds of 80,000 watched at Wembley and the event was televised for the first time by the BBC.

 

A record number of athletes (4,500) and nations (59) participated but neither Germany nor Japan were invited to take part and Stalin forbade Soviet athletes to compete for fear they'd be beaten by the United States.

 

The very existence of the 1948 London Games became an immense symbol of hope for the future.

 

A BBC production.

 

FP

BBC FOUR Autumn season The Jitterbug Years

 

The Jitterbug Years

 

Extraordinary BBC archive footage, highlighting some of the most important events from the post-war years of 1945 to 1953, is set to the music of the time - heralding an era of enormous social and cultural change that would eventually explode into rock and roll and teenage rebellion.

 

This unique footage shows how the Brits enjoyed themselves in the aftermath of the war, despite rationing, deprivation and the big freeze of 1947.

 

Events include the birth of the NHS; the baby boom and soaring divorce rate; the influence of American music and dance; the Empire dissolving; Britain entering the jet and atomic age; Attlee's socialist Government taking over major industries; Churchill's second term as PM; the Festival of Britain; the discovery of DNA; and the Queen's Coronation.

 

The evocative soundtrack includes How Lucky You Are from Vera Lynn; Isn't Life Wonderful by Alma Cogan and Les Howard; GI Jive by Tony Bennett; Jezebel by Frankie Laine; and I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm from Les Brown and his orchestra.

 

A BBC production.

 

FP

BBC FOUR Autumn season Chris Langham as John Wyndham

 

John Wyndham: The Invisible Man of British Science Fiction

 

John Wyndham hated the term 'science fiction', yet the author of The Day of The Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos remains one of Britain's most influential sci-fi writers.

 

In the Fifties his books dominated the bestseller lists and, decades later, they are all still in print and still seem just as relevant.

 

This dramatised documentary, starring Chris Langham, explores the science behind his fiction and uncovers for the first time the strange private life of this unique writer.

 

Drawing on the painstaking research of Wyndham's biographer, Dr David Ketterer, it includes interviews with personal friends including sci-fi writers Brian Aldiss and Sam Youd, and scientists Steve Jones and Armand Le Roi.

 

Wyndham's private photo album - and the only television interview he ever gave - feature alongside clips from the movie and TV adaptations of The Day of The Triffids.

 

A BBC production.

 

KA

 

Ronald Searle

 

Haunted by the success of his most famous creation - the girls of St Trinian's and the boys of St Custard's (notably Molesworth) - but also haunted by his own wartime experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war, Ronald Searle left his wife, his family and his country in 1961.

 

Searle has since lived and worked from his home in the South of France and this is the first film for 30 years to consider his life and work.

 

Extensive examples, drawn specially for the programme by Times and Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, explore what constitutes the unmistakable 'Searle line' and how his work developed in the crucial years immediately following the end of the Second World War - moving from the merely decorative and amusing to the penetrating and disturbing.

 

Contributions include specially-commissioned portraits from Gerald Scarfe, Posy Simmonds, Steve Bell and Michael Heath, as well as Alan Coren and Russell Davies.

 

A Lion TV (Scotland) production.

 

FP

 

Dennis Wheatley: A Letter To Posterity

 

Dennis Wheatley wrote more than 70 books, selling an incredible 50 million copies.

 

Labelled the 'Prince of Thriller Writers' by critics, he served his country with distinction in both wars and sold fine wines to the crowned heads of Europe, but he counted a con-man and a murderer among his closest friends and was a keen student of the occult and black arts.

 

Less than 30 years since his death, this once hugely popular writer is now rather forgotten. Here, he is summoned back to life and his legacy re-examined.

 

With previously unseen archive footage, the documentary features interviews with his friends, including actor Christopher Lee, and experts including his biographer Phil Baker and leading authority on British popular fiction Clive Bloom.

 

Unearthing the contents of an extraordinary letter addressed to 'Posterity', written by Wheatley in 1947 and buried in a subsequently recovered time capsule, the film reveals his fears for the future and his contempt for the present.

 

It seeks to discover just how representative Wheatley was of a slice of British society which found post-war austerity and Labour government reforms almost as bad as the war itself; and what he would make of the world today if he really were to return.

 

A Lion TV (Scotland) production.

 

FP

 

 

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