Johnson Over Jordan at the BFI a Sell Out Success.
The BFI’s rare screening of the television adaptation of Priestley’s epic and extraordinary play, Johnson Over Jordan was a massive success. The depth of feeling generated when Everyman Robert Johnson shivered, turned up his coat and disappeared into the vast space and the smoky mist led many in the audience to break out into spontaneous applause.
First screened in 1965 this TV revival of the 1939 stageplay traced Robert Johnson’s experience when he is catapulted into his own afterlife. The original stageplay was Priestley’s first attempt to push out beyond the the middle-class naturalism which critics assumed was his normal habitat. Johnson, a decent deficient man, is at first brutally examined and exposed before gaining the opportunity to relive certain key moments in his life and come to some understanding of his own Self.
The screening was introduced by Dr Billy Smart and also Hannah Gordon who landed her first ever television role playing the part of Freda, Johnson’s daughter. Dr Smart an expert in film and television studies and the joint curator of the BFI’s Forgotten Drama Series spoke at length about the difficulties the play created for the production team and director Lionel Harris. Hannah Gordon explained how Sir Ralph Richardson had been so very kind to her and how the role was a springboard to what became a long and flourishing television career.
Johnson Over Jordan is featured heavily in the latest Journal of the Society. This is free to members but can be purchased via our downloads page.
Also on the bill was You Know What People Are, the only surviving edition of JB Priestley’s attempts to create an original drama that could only be told through the new medium of television, using a fixed repertory company of the same four actors for each play in the series. Sadly the other three episodes were lost, but this one, found in the BBC archives, received its first airing since 1955.
MORE ON THIS TO FOLLOW
CAST ANNOUNCED FOR BBC’S AN INSPECTOR CALLS!
David Thewlis, as Inspector Goole, heads the cast of the BBC One commissioned Drama Republic film of An Inspector Calls.
Mr Birling will be played by Ken Stott and Mrs Birling, by Miranda Richardson. They will be joined by Chloe Pirrie, Kyle Soller and Sophie Rundle.
As already announced, filming will take place in Yorkshire this month and the completed production will be aired on BBC later this year as part of its season of classic 20th century literature adaptations.
We will continue to update you with news of this production when we have it. Needless to say we are excited at the prospect and delighted the BBC have chosen to adapt this great piece of drama.