Skip to main content

THIS IS THE B.B.C

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.

See also...

THE LAWYERS

This BBC documentary was filmed in various locations throughout England and Wales, and shows real barristers and solicitors in their chambers and offices and in the Inns of Court. There are no ... More »

The Schools

B.B.C. television interviewers seek out headmasters and teachers working in Britain's vast educational system to discuss the advantages or drawbacks of the various types of schools Passionate ... More »

TELEVISION AND THE WORLD

As part of its 25th Anniversary commemoration. BBC-TV made this film on television in different countries, with special reference to those which are underdeveloped. It was made in nine countries ... More »

The Question

The ideological confusion that sets in when one tries to answer fundamental questions in life. ... More »

The Christmas Visitor

A cartoon film which belongs wholly to the spirit of a child's Christmas. Having entered in traditional fashion by the chimney and filled the children's stockings, Father Christmas rests his weary ... More »

Kashkeshet

An experimental film in which hand-painted illustrations have been set to music, ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director