Re-recording live drama: the fallibility of the television drama record

OLIVER WAKE

Anyone researching live television drama will inevitably encounter the well-known obstacle that only a small percentage of live broadcasts were recorded from transmission and subsequently archived. A lesser-known obstacle for anyone trying to appreciate the quality and aesthetics of live drama is that those recordings which were made and archived are not necessarily an accurate representation of the programmes as broadcast.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the recording of live transmissions was largely accomplished via the telerecording process, resulting in a continuous record of the broadcast on film. It has usually been assumed that this film recording was then left untouched, and only over recent years has it become clear that this was not necessarily the case. In some instances, once the live transmission of a drama had concluded, the cast and crew remained in the studio and re-performed sections of the programme that were considered to have been substandard on broadcast. These scenes were also telerecorded and could subsequently be edited into the master recording to create a more polished version of the whole programme.

Whisper It But Perhaps Malcolm Tucker Is Good For Us

MATTHEW BAILEY

Plato and Hazel Blears do not often make it into the same sentence but they do share a common concern: from ancient Greece to the Salford Chipmunk, the arts have troubled the polis.

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Admittedly Hazel Blears is not as extreme in her views as Plato, who sought to banish poets from his Republic for fear of their deleterious effect on the citizenry. Nonetheless Blears, speaking last year when still a Minister, expressed her worries about the corrosive effect of fictional accounts of politics and politicians on this country. Wondering why people might be deterred from participation in politics, she ruminated that one factor might be its portrayal on our TV screens. While Americans enjoy a tradition of uplifting political narratives from Mr Smith Goes to Washington to The West Wing, by contrast the British, she argued, are served with a diet of either the incompetent (Yes, Minister) or Machiavellian (House of Cards); two tendencies synthesized today in The Thick of It where clueless ministers are the playthings of conniving spin doctor Malcolm Tucker.