Thirty-Minute Theatre

Thirty-Minute Theatre
Genre Drama Anthology
Written by Various
Directed by Various
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 286
Producer(s) Graeme MacDonald
& others
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) BBC
Original network BBC2
Original release 17 October 1965 (1965-10-17) – 9 August 1973 (1973-08-09)
Followed by Second City Firsts

Thirty-Minute Theatre is an anthology drama series of short plays shown on BBC Television between 1965 and 1973, which was used in part at least as a training ground for new writers, on account of its short running length, and which therefore attracted many writers who later became well known.[1] It was initially produced by Graeme MacDonald.[2]

Thirty-Minute Theatre began on BBC2 in 1965 with an adaptation of the black comedy Parson's Pleasure (author, Roald Dahl). Dennis Potter contributed Emergency – Ward 9 (1966), which he partially recycled in the much later The Singing Detective (1986). In 1967 BBC2 launched the UK's first colour service, with the consequence that Thirty-Minute Theatre became the first drama series in the country to be shown in colour.[3]

As well as single plays, the series showed several linked collections of plays, including a group of four plays by John Mortimer named after areas of London[4][5] in 1972, two three-part Inspector Waugh series starring Clive Swift in the title role, and a trilogy of plays by Jean Benedetti, broadcast in 1969, focusing on infamous historical figures such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Other plays were broadcast by writers like Charlotte and Denis Plimmer (The Chequers Manoeuvre, 1968),[6] David Rudkin (Bypass, 1972, and Atrocity, 1973)[7] and Jack Rosenthal (And For my Next Trick, 1972).[7]

Thirty-Minute Theatre was cancelled in August 1973. Second City Firsts, also of 30 minutes duration, fulfilled much the same role.

Archive holdings

Out of the original 286 episodes, 239 are missing, one is incomplete and 3 exist on formats inferior to the original.[8][9]


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