‘Play for Today was revolutionary and exciting’
David Hare

‘An inspiration for anybody that’s thinking about the nature of what film or drama is or should be’
Mike Leigh

15 October 2020 marks the 50th anniversary anthology drama series Play for Today, which comprised broadcasts of more than 300 one-off television plays on the BBC between 1970 and 1984, combining some of the era’s finest writing, acting and directing talents, leaving a cultural legacy.

The BFI celebrates this milestone anniversary with a dedicated programme of activity throughout October and November, including a season of screenings at BFI Southbank, a BFI Blu-ray box set release - Play for Today: Volume One, a celebrity panel event on BFI YouTube to launch the Blu-ray collection and a preview of a new feature length BBC documentary. In addition, 130 plays — almost half of those surviving — are available to watch free at BFI Southbank’s Mediatheque. The BFI National Archive has collaborated with the BBC on a new radio documentary for Archive on 4 and BBC History have also collaborated on a BBC Canvas online exhibition with BFI and Royal Holloway University of London. The documentary and exhibition will give an insight into the unique history of Play for Today through rare archive materials held in both the BBC and BFI National Archive collections.

Features

Play for Today at 50: Folk horror and the ‘National Theatre of the airwaves’

By William Fowler

Play for Today at 50: Folk horror and the ‘National Theatre of the airwaves’

Play for Today at 50: Queer stories

By Simon McCallum

Play for Today at 50: Queer stories

Play for Today: the TV series at the heart of 1970s British filmmaking

By Robert Hanks

Play for Today: the TV series at the heart of 1970s British filmmaking