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UK, 1959 (MIFF 1960, Programme 8)

Director: Richard Cawston

This impression of the B.B.C. at work covers a 24 hour period: from the last news bulletin at midnight to an experimental colour television test just after midnight on the following night. News bulletins are read; disc jockeys play records; the director of the European Service confers with his staff; the Air Correspondent joins an R.A.F. search for a missing air-liner; a Brecht play ("Mother Courage") is seen at rehearsal and TV transmission stage; television and radio sports commentators cover the Lincolnshire Handicap and rehearse their plans for a Boat Race; the monitoring service picks up a Moscow report of a rocket launching; an audience researcher conducts a doorstep interview; the "Tonight" and "Panorama" team plan their programmes; a Schools broadcaster talks about a vintage car; remote-controlled equipment takes away the human element - the gossip of office-cleaners and canteen customers brings it back and so on and so on.

The aim of this B.B.C. film is to show the size, the range, the bustling and ordered activity of the whole mammoth organisation. The technique is kaleidoscopic, impressionistic, as though someone had sat down with a list of all the B.B.C.'s departments and activities and ingeniously fabricated a script which somehow got everything in. The film has no commentary, using instead the techniques of overlapping sound, snippets of conversation, quick cuts from one too to another (a jazz programme to a lunchtime canteen), with the sound track giving continuity.

Thus a difficult job of reportage has been done with vitality and some humour; This is the B.B.C. is an agreeably uninstitutional documentary. The film received the British Film Academy's Award for the Best Specialist Film of 1959.

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