Orson Welles

First transmitted in 1955. Writer, film and theatre director, Orson Welles takes the hot seat in this in-depth and revealing interview. Newspaper writers John Beavan, Elizabeth Frank, Rene McColl and William Hardcastle press Orson Welles on a number of issues as they attempt to delve into his life, passions and the secrets behind his career. Welles is questioned about his views on television, his reasons for staging Macbeth with an all-black cast, and his political ambitions.

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25 minutes

Last on

Mon 17 Jan 1955 15:30
BBC Television Service

BBC Four Talk Collection

BBC Four Talk Collection
This programme is part of Talk - a collection of interviews with some of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

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More about this programme

Press Conference was "a series where personalities who make the news answer impromptu questions from men who write the news." So begins this edition which seems to overlook the presence of Elizabeth Frank in the line-up! However, the programme contains many gems including Welles' anecdote following the now legendary 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds which "frightened half of the United States out of their wits" and into believing that a Martian invasion had begun. Welles reflects, "I think we underrated the prestige of radio at that moment, anything that was said on the radio was automatically true. After that nobody ever believed anything on the radio and, Pearl Harbour, the day of Pearl Harbour in America I was doing a radio broadcast which was interrupted with the announcement that Pearl Harbour had been attacked and of course everybody in America said it’s rather bad taste to do it again."

About BBC Four Collection programmes

Programmes are selected, in part, for their historical context and reflect the broadcast standards and attitudes of their time, which may not accord to some current BBC editorial guidelines. We aim to select programmes which can be shown in their entirety but in some cases edits are required.


Role Contributor
PresenterHuw Wheldon
InterviewerJohn Beavan
InterviewerElizabeth Frank
InterviewerWilliam Hardcastle
InterviewerRene McColl
Interviewed GuestOrson Welles

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