News & Views

Monday 6th March 2017

The British Entertainment History Project celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the recording its first interview with DoP Eric Cross on March 6th 1987. Guest of honour was Roy Fowler who founded the ACCT History Project all those years ago. Roy celebrates his 90th birthday today - the 10th March 2017.   

M Spence

This month – March 2017 – the National Film Theatre is showcasing Ken Russell’s 1971 production of The Boy Friend, focusing in particular on the production design and costume design that gave it its particular 1920s/1960s crossover look.

The Boy Friend sits right in the middle of Russell’s purple patch, stretching from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, when he produced much of his most enduring work. In the early 1960s he was in television, producing idiosyncratic documentaries, including several on composers – Bartok, Debussy, Prokoviev - for the BBC ‘Monitor’ series. From 1967 he moved into film with Billion Dollar Brain, followed in 1969 by Women In Love which won him an Oscar nomination, and Glenda Jackson an Oscar.

M Spence


In February 2017 the National Film Theatre (NFT) has been screening Robert Hamer’s 1947 classic It Always Rains On Sunday – a dark and complex domestic thriller from Ealing Studios, from a time before it became overwhelmingly associated with ‘Ealing Comedies’. (The first ‘Ealing Comedy’, Hue and Cry, was in fact produced in the same year).

It Always Rains On Sunday stars Googie Withers in perhaps her finest role. In a bleak portrayal of post-war East End working class life, she plays Rose, a woman with a past, forced to choose between a decent but unexciting husband and family, and a glamorous but dangerous old flame who turns up out of the blue, on the run from the law. I won’t say more: if you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a morally-compromised treat.

Richard Best is one of the finest film editors of his time. He was born in Hull on the 29th of June 1916, his love of film started when his father brought him a toy 35mm projector.

Andrew Dawson

On 14 December 2016 the History Project screened our documentary, Women in West London Film Laboratories. The documentary is of particular interest to members because it draws upon interviews from the History Project collection, as well as archival footage and interviews we conducted. For those who weren't at the meeting here is a link. Do let us have your comments.


Women in West London Film Laboratories documents the bittersweet experience of women in West London film laboratories. It is the first and might be the last attempt to visually record the lives of lab women.

Bill Aitken from BBC Radio Oxford has produced a documentary about one of our interviewees, BBC producer, Bernie Andrews, who broadcast every major UK rock band before they were famous. The documentary makes extensive use of our HP interviews, as much of the programme is built around our two interviews with Bernie Andrews, conducted by Mike Dick.

Some tasters from BBC Radio Oxford’s forthcoming documentary about Bernie Andrews, one of the most influential radio producers of the 20th Century:

The Veteran, Issue 130, Spring 2011

Roy Fowler, initiator of the ACTT (now BECTU) History Project, looks back




Thanks to Ian Noah, Alison and others, there is quite a comprehensive guide to the Workflow needed when undertaking an interview for the History Project. I thought it would be good to set out below my experience of filming interviews for the History Project, through editing to archiving and uploading to the web. The process probably throws up more questions than answers but I thought it would be a good exercise and a starting point for other people to contribute their knowledge . I don’t pretend to know all the technical language. Some of the procedures I have undertaken a certain way I have done because I have been advised it is the best way..


M Spence

The recent re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, in a new print from the BFI, has been a triumph.

When Barry Lyndon first came out in 1975 it went off like a damp squib. Kubrick’s previous films – Paths of Glory, Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange – covered a range of themes and a variety of moods, but each in its own way kept the story moving along at a brisk canter. When it was known that Kubrick was working on a screenplay of Thackeray’s novel set in the eighteenth century, one obvious point of reference was Tom Jones, Tony Richardson’s bawdy celebration of life and lust starring young Albert Finney. Of course, Kubrick was a very different filmmaker – but even so, the eighteenth century was all about frock-coats, oaths and wenches, wasn’t it?


The use of Speechmatics to obtain a printed text is a great saving on employing a stenographer to do the work. I have experimented with different files to obtain the most correct printed text from the voice. Speechmatics themselves say that a good level is essential for the system to work. Strangely the results do vary enormously.. One male voice can sound very similar to another but the resulting text print out can be totally different. By way of experiment I recently tried a female archive voice and only used one side of the recording. The result I think was slightly better in that A) The female voice works better with Speechmatics anyway and B) The use of one side of the recording produced near perfect results especially when there were few technical terms and/or proper names. It is always worth an experiment to do a short before getting the whole interview processed.