Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 19 - Favourite adaptation of a novel

We've had quite a few adaptations of novels on British Invaders: The Tripods, Day of the Triffids, Hitch-hiker's Guide, The Invisible man, Gormenghast and Nightmare Man. And we will be talking about Chocky and Escape into Night on the podcast in the next 2 months. But the one adaptation that I keep returning to is the BBC's 1954 version of George Orwell's 1984.

Maybe it's the post-war austerity on display, maybe it's Peter Cushing and Andre Morell, or it could just be the whole atmosphere generated by a cast and crew doing it live with only minimal pre-recorded sections. Whatever it is the result is a gripping piece of black and white television history which you can watch for free on the internet. You can read my previous blog post about this production here, and you can listen to our podcasts about it here.


  1. There's something really unique about the atmsophere created in this production.

    It would definitely be my choice for best adaptated novel and among the best of all-time British TV productions.

    I think that even today that Andre Morrell's performance in the Room 101 scenes is among the most chilling ever recorded.

    As I menitoned in a previous post I'd love to see this on DVD and I'm really curious to see the recently re-discovered 1965 version of the same Kneale script.
    All accounts I've seen from people who've seen that version, is that it's a fine production in it's own right.

  2. Have you any more info about the 1965 version? I didn't know it had been found.

  3. It was one of a huge number of previously missing British TV productions of a similar vintage discovered last year at the Library of Congress.

    Here's some of the coverage from last year, though not specifically mentioning 1984. They seemed more excited by an early Sean Connery performance:

    I have to say as a fan of British archive TV in genral not just SF, I'm very curious to see plenty of the other finds as well.

    A complete list of what was found is available here:

    With regard to 1984, there are sadly a few minutes missing, damaged in the middle but I'd still be interested in seeing it.

    It has already been screened a couple of times at the BFI 'Missing Believed Wiped' event and at events held by the archive TV organisation Kaleidoscope, though I haven't been able to get to them.

    Here's a forum post regarding the most recent event, with a brief mention of 1984: