RUDOLPH CARTIER devoted the most productive of his years, nearly 30 of them, to television drama, writes Nigel Kneale. In that time he moved from being the Wild Man to the Grand Old Man of the medium, and he gave it all he had, unstintingly.
My own association with Rudy was in the 1950s. I wrote scripts. He produced and directed. In those days television drama was almost entirely performed in the studio, live.
There was always high tension and risk, anything from plain accidents during a broadcast to an actor's disaster, collapse or just getting into the wrong set and wrecking the finely tuned, hair- trigger continuity, Rudy relished all such hazards for the flexibility that came with them. A producer in those days had far greater control over his show. When we went on the air with the six-part serial The Quatermass Experiment, I still hadn't written the final episode. But Rudy gave it a speed and style that were something new in 1953.
Rudy Cartier brought his film experience, dating back to the UFA studios in Berlin, to bear on the rather stately, radio-haunted BBC drama. In his hands, filmed linkages between studio scenes became dynamic film in its own right. But it was the live studio that gave him most, with live actors he had charmed into giving their best. It took rather special actors, drawn away from stage or film, hooked on the adrenalin lift of facing not a thousand in a theatre but whole millions.
They shared the excitement Rudy brought on himself. So, in a less exposed way, did I. Writing a script for Rudy to produce was a rich experience. He never said no to a suggestion. Put in something that was almost impossible and he would top it with something that was even more impossible. And make it happen.
He went on to master television opera, and new techniques of videotape and colour that are now standard. But the wild and wonderful time of total risk, so thrillingly seized and exploited in the Fifties, belonged to Rudy as to nobody else. If it was indeed a Golden Age, then he put his stamp on the gold.
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