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Various past Julius Caesars

The Radio Times now has on online archive of its TV and Radio Listings for 1923-2009, and I was playing about with it, searching for some actors I'm interested, and hit on this - listing for a BBC 1960 production of Julius Caesar, including the cast:


I've only come up with details for Part 4 so far, so there's no credit for Caesar himself (the same actor as Caesar's ghost?), but here we are:

Designed By: Austen Spriggs
Produced By: Ronald Eyre
Brutus: Micheal Goodliffe
Cassius: John Laurie
Titinius: John Abineri
Messala: James Crout
Lucius: Ray Brooks
Octavius: Tim Seely
Ghost of Caesar: Ralph Michael
Antony: James Maxwell
Messenger: Ray Smith
Lucilius: Brian Harrison
Pindarus: Richard Coe
Young Cato: James Bolam
Dardanius: Michael Robbins
Volumnius: Christopher Gilmore
Strato: Henley Thomas

I was actually just browsing for stuff with James Maxwell, stumbled over this, and I think it could seriously have rivalled the later BBC effort for a mix of awesome and crack. It probably doesn't exist any more - if it was performed live, then maybe it never did in terms of actual recordings, I don't know. If you're British, you'll soon spot what's been cracking me up ever since I saw it, though. (Yep, Private Fraser is Cassius! "We're doomed, Brutus, dooooooomed!" *cough* If you're not British and don't know Dad's Army, this is the sort of thing tho' minus the catchphrase.) I'm intrigued, trying to picture James Maxwell c.1960 as Antony, too. (I have a random 1961 clip of him here. He was connected with the Old Vic quite a bit, and had already been Feste for a BBC Twelfth Night and would be the Duke in Measure for Measure in the Old Vic's final season in 1961/2, but Antony's a lot more forceful than anything I've seen him as. *is intriged*)

Michael Goodliffe isn't someone I've come across before, but he looks interesting & came to rather a sad end.

Anyway, my obsessing over random character actors aside, it made me think - given that the first bit of drama ever broadcast on BBC radio was supposed to be Julius Caesar, how many could I find? The search engine's a little dodgy as yet, but it still threw up some interesting things. Some of them may even exist...

* A 1999 Radio 3 version, set in Italy, 1925 (Nicholas Farrell, Samantha Bond, Gerard Murphy, Stella Gonet, Jonathan Firth, Colin McFarlane.) (The BBC probably won't have lost that one yet.)

* It looks as though Radio 4 did talks to tie in with the BBC Shakespeare series, and there was one for Julius Caesar given by Ronald Pickup, Prefaces to Shakespeare (Ronald Pickup, btw, was Pitt to David Collings's Wilberforce a couple of years before. 1970s British TV, always incestuous, yes.) These were repeated a couple of times & might exist somewhere.

* There was a 1951 TV production (though the OCR was obviously playing up a bit) here, so TV wasn't too slow in getting a version. (This one would presumably have gone out live, so the listing is probably all that remains.)

* 1972 Radio production with Nigel Stock, Martin Jarvis, Julian Glover, Anthony Bate, and Peter Jeffrey. (Repeated 1973, 1974, so could exist if someone recorded it.)

The listing for the 1979 version is here, though I found it searching for "David Collings" rather than Julius Caesar).

Still most intrigued by the sounds of the 1960 one, though.

Looks as though there used to be regular readings as part of the schools programmes in the 1920s, 30s & 40s, as well. And then I got fed up, but you can see it's an interesting resource, anyway. Early British TV is a bit spotty on IMBD, and radio is otherwise almost impossible to find out about.

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
ningloreth
17th Oct, 2014 15:16 (UTC)
I love James Maxwell. He was a co-founder the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, and I remember seeing him as Thomas More in 'A Man for All Seasons', back in the early 70s. He'd recently played Henry VII in 'The Shadow of the Tower', which was also a BBC production, I think. I can't imagine him as Antony, either. To me, he's always a Tudor. (But I suppose that's appropriate!)

Michael Goodliffe played Judge Dee in an ITV series of the same name. It was critically mauled for using white actors to play Chinese characters, and I believe that contributed to his depression. I only have the haziest memory of the program, but it was responsible for my fascination with all things Judge Dee.
lost_spook
17th Oct, 2014 16:08 (UTC)
I love James Maxwell. He was a co-founder the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, and I remember seeing him as Thomas More in 'A Man for All Seasons', back in the early 70s.

Oh, I'm so happy to come across someone else who likes James Maxwell! I watched Shadow of the Tower about two years ago and got interested in him and have on and off been watching other things he was in & I like him so much now. And if you're saying you got to see him in the theatre (?), I'm all jealous now! From what I have read, it sounds as if theatre was always where his heart was, and I can easily imagine he would be v cool on stage.

Mind, I've seen him in enough things that he can't possibly always be a Tudor - he's frequently a Victorian with epic fake hair for a start! - but Antony's definitely a departure from anything else I've seen him as, so it does make me wonder what interpretation they were going for here.

In that case, you might like to see this, which I also found in the listings. (♥)

I hadn't come across Michael Goodliffe (at least not that I can recall), but, yes, just seeing his picture and reading wiki made him sound interesting - I'll definitely keep an eye out for him.

Edited at 2014-10-17 16:10 (UTC)
liadtbunny
17th Oct, 2014 15:25 (UTC)
I know with some of the Shakespeare broadcasts of the 1960's the BBC went and filmed at a theatre or just dragged the cast out of a current production so they were most probably live events.

Micheal Goodliffe was the second Hunter in 'Callan'. He wanted to leave after a mouse was accidently killed when anesthetised. A sensitive man, I think. He does pop up in quite a few films too.
lost_spook
17th Oct, 2014 16:16 (UTC)
the BBC went and filmed at a theatre or just dragged the cast out of a current production

LOL! This immediately makes me imagine the BBC randomly hijacking theatre performances by force. And, I know. Still, it just depends - they did this one in four parts, so maybe they would have recorded it and then wiped it/burnt it etc.?

I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for Michael Goodliffe when I'm watching things. And I really do mean to watch Callan sometime - you have sold me on it! - I just rather want some more cheerful things at the moment.
liadtbunny
18th Oct, 2014 15:10 (UTC)
I'd go and check your sanity;p 'Callan' is definitely not cheerful, so I can understand your avoidance!
elviaprose
26th Oct, 2014 14:06 (UTC)
Yay! Missed this somehow.

Re: that 1999 one, I wonder how they set it in Italy, since it was a radio drama. Do they just have people shouting in Italian in the background? Did they splice in news announcements? Idk, this seems like a naive question, but I really wonder.
lost_spook
26th Oct, 2014 14:33 (UTC)
:-)

Idk, this seems like a naive question, but I really wonder.

I think I also typed out the sentence oddly, too. I'd imagine the point is, it was set in Italy, 1925, since, er, that's where we already are. I'd also imagine your news announcement suggestion is quite likely - something like that, which would use the audio format. As it was made in 1999, the recording is bound to exist and might turn up on YouTube.

I managed to find an extract of Jonathan Firth as Anthony, but there's no indication of setting in it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUa7buqUvRE

It is also out on CD on Amazon (with a really stingy review, poor play, LOL. Don't know how deserved it is or not, but they don't think it got the atmosphere across on audio!).
elviaprose
26th Oct, 2014 15:41 (UTC)
I don't think your phrasing was odd at all !Thanks for looking into that for me! That review is stingy, isn't it? But also relevant to my question :D
lost_spook
26th Oct, 2014 17:00 (UTC)
True, although I have listened to quite a few radio dramas now, as well as many BFAs, and it's not as if it's something that's impossible to do, even if they didn't pull it off. I love Stella Gonet in things usually, as well, though the 1970s radio one has the more immediately striking cast. (I live in the wrong decade.)

I'm, as I said, particularly intrigued by that 1960 TV one, even though it probably doesn't exist anymore! The cast list is really interesting (if you know your Guide to the British Character Actor, :loL:). Obviously, I'm really into James Maxwell, but it's an odd role for him - other Shakespeare roles he had around this time on TV and stage were Feste and the Duke in Measure For Measure, and outside of Shakespeare, he's best known for playing Henry VII (so again, more of a manipulator/player with words). He was also still fairly young (about 30 and looked younger), so it does make me wonder what they were going for.

I hadn't heard of Michael Goodliffe, but he seems really interesting now I've looked him up. And best of all, John Laurie as Cassius! LOL! I mean, not a bad choice and he's a really good actor, but I've never seen him not being thoroughly Scottish! It also might imply a slightly more negative Cassius. (Not because of being Scottish, but just generally because if anyone can look and sound like an evil plotter, it's him). But also because Dad's Army and his tendency to always look on the dark side and tell everyone they're DOOOOOOOMED, DOOOOMED, DOOOMED. That would not be applicable to JC, obv. *g*)

Sorry, that last bit probably only makes sense to people who are British, because I don't think Dad's Army ever made it in the US, really.

*tries to look innocent and normal and not rabid on the subject of weird old TV*
elviaprose
26th Oct, 2014 23:59 (UTC)
Yeah, always intriguing to see people cast against type. Honestly, I never would have pegged our dear David Collings for a Cassius, but I love his take on it as much as Gielgud's (not possible for me to love it more than Gielgud's).

And actually, Marlon Brando said he couldn't imagine Geilgud playing the battle seasoned soldier until Gielgud put on his Cassius armor...and then he was blown right away.

lost_spook
27th Oct, 2014 12:30 (UTC)
Is it a rule? Cassius has to be played by someone you can't imagine playing Cassius? :-)
pedanther
27th Oct, 2014 02:20 (UTC)
Part One, Part Two, Part Three

(I'm amused that the list of contributors for Part Three, presumably due to illegible OCR, has William Shakespeare listed as Unknown Role.)
lost_spook
27th Oct, 2014 12:31 (UTC)
Ah, thanks. I kept meaning to go back and narrow down the search and find the other parts. :-) I see, to complete the comedy links, it also had Wilfrid Brambell. And, yep, the Unknown Shakespeare. (That happens a lot in the entries I've seen.) Hmm, it's also a Schools thing, though. That seems a bit of an impressive cast for a Schools version.

INteresting...
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )