A celebration of a grand institution

There used to be a very close link between the theatre and television.

In television’s earliest days most of the plays it screened were versions plays originally written for the theatre.

Then when television generated its own plays some of the very best were broadcast under the banner of ‘Armchair Theatre’. Sadly the great days of the television play are now gone and when single plays are produced for the small screen nowadays they tend to be more short films rather than televised theatre.

However this Saturday evening on BBC2 at nine o’clock, for two hours and fifteen minutes BBC television will be broadcasting live a celebration of the work of the National Theatre - an institution which began in 1963 at the Old Vic under the guidance of Sir Laurence Olivier.

The National Theatre is now situated at the South Bank and it is from that theatre that this programme is being transmitted. Some 800 productions later the National has a lot to celebrate! Scenes from some of its most famous productions including - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; A Little Night Music; The National Health, Jerry Springer – the Opera among many others – will be performed live and via the National’s filmed archive. The works of Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, David Hare and William Shakespeare will be represented. Famous actors due to appear include – Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren, Sir. Derek Jacobi, Sir. Michael Gambon, Adrian Lester, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Eccleston and Ralph Fiennes.

Anybody with an interest in the world of the theatre should find something to enjoy in this celebration. And watching live acting on a Saturday night will make a nice addition to the usual live singing and dancing which is on offer on other channels.

Ian K