Dallas Bower: a producer for television's early years, 1936-39

Wyver, J. 2012. Dallas Bower: a producer for television's early years, 1936-39. Journal of British Cinema and Television. 9 (1), pp. 26-39. doi:10.3366/jbctv.2012.0058

TitleDallas Bower: a producer for television's early years, 1936-39
AuthorsWyver, J.
Abstract

Having worked in the film industry as a sound technician and then director, Dallas Bower (1907-99) was appointed in 1936 as one of two senior producers at the start of the BBC Television service. Over the next three years Bower produced as well as directed many ground-breaking live programmes, including the opening-day broadcast on 2 November 1936; the BBC Television Demonstration Film (1937, his only surviving pre-war production); a modern-dress Julius Caesar (1938), in uniforms suggestive of a Fascist disctatorship; Act II of Tristan and Isolde (1938); Patrick Hamilton’s play Rope (1939), utilising extended single camera-shots camera-shots; numerous ballets, among them Checkmate (1938); and ambitious outside broadcasts from the film studios at Denham and Pinewood.

Developing the working practices of producing for the theatre, film industry and radio, Bower was a key figure in defining the role of the creative television producer at the start of the medium. Among his innovations, according to his unpublished autobiographical fragment ‘Playback’ (written 1995), was the introduction of a drawn studio plan for the four cameras employed in all live broadcasts from Alexandra Palace.

Using Bower’s writings (among them his 1936 book Plan for Cinema), his BECTU History Project interview, the BBC Written Archives and contemporary industry coverage, this article reconstructs the early development of the role of staff television producer in order to consider the questions of autonomy, agency and institutional constraints at the BBC in the pre-war years.

KeywordsDallas Bower, television, Alexandra Palace, BBC
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Journal citation9 (1), pp. 26-39
ISSN1743-4521
Year2012
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Accepted author manuscript110918_DallasBower.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.3366/jbctv.2012.0058
Web address (URL)http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/jbctv.2012.0058
Publication dates
PublishedFeb 2012

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