BFI Key Films - Teenagers
In this episode the key BFI film we use is called ‘We are the Lambeth Boys’. It was released in 1959 and Karel Reisz was the director.Link to BFI Reel History site
The film was originally sponsored by Ford for its Look at Britain series.
'Lambeth Boys' attempted to deliver a positive portrait of the lives of ordinary teenagers, far from the usual violent 'Teddy Boy' stereotype.
The film was shot over six weeks in the summer of 1958 in and around the Alford House, a youth club in the Oval area of South London. It follows a group of teenagers at work, at home and in their leisure time, giving them space to express their frustrations and aspirations.
In this episode of Reel History we catch up with three of the stars of the film more than 50 years after it was made.
You can watch the whole of 'We Are the Lambeth Boys' and other key films on this subject via the BFI's website for the Teenagers episode.
The First Wild Man of UK Rock and Roll
Melvyn meets Wee Willie Harris (centre) in this episode. Wee Willie tells Melvyn how he became inspired to become a rock star and dye his hair bright pink after seeing Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.
Wee Willie began performing at the legendary 2i's Coffee Bar in Soho. In November 1957 he was picked by the TV producer, Jack Good, to appear in the BBC show Six-Five Special. His appearances on the show led to concerns being expressed in the media about the BBC's role in "promoting teenage decadence".
The Crowd Goes Wild for Marty
Melvyn meets one of the original teen idols in this episode - Marty Wilde.Official Marty Wilde website
From mid-1958 to the end of 1959, Wilde was one of the leading British rock and roll singers, along with Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard.
Marty had many big hits during this time such as 'Rubber Ball' and 'Teenager in Love'. He tells Melvyn why the 1950s was such a magic time.
Saturday Night's Alright for Dancing
Jennie Prescott tells Melvyn how she used to look forward to her regular Saturday night trips to a rock and roll club in Standish near Wigan. Jennie tells Melvyn all about the behaviour of the boys at the club and what her parents thought of the music and fashions.
Molly Remembers Her Sister
There is a very emotional moment in the cinema when Molly Lowton spots her younger sister Joyce on a key film we show her.
Joyce died shortly after this film was made.
Molly explains to Melvyn all about the fun they used to have together on Saturday nights out.
Reel History of Britain: Selecting the films
Find out how curator Robin Baker chose the films featured in the series, and what makes these on-screen snippets of British history so compelling.Reel History of Britain: Selecting the films
Read and comment on Robin's post on the BBC TV blog.
- Melvyn Bragg
- Series Producer
- Dympna Jackson
- Executive Producer
- Ruth Pitt