LETTER: Quality television direct from the West End

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The Independent Online
From Mr Noble Wilson

Sir: David Lister's case (Section Two; "As not seen on TV", 6 December) for the making of television recordings of some of the best theatre productions in the British theatre is well argued. It should now be perfectly possible to negotiate rights for domestic and international sales, both with Equity and the technicians' unions. The multi-channel future is nearly upon us and there will be a need for good, quality programming.

More difficult to overcome is the belief that good televised drama can only come from the studio. There was a period in the Fifties when BBC Television transmitted live relays from shows running in the West End theatres, but because managements were nervous about the effect on their audiences, it was only allowed to take part of the productions.

To those of us involved in directing these outside broadcasts, it sometimes seemed that only the shows that were not doing too well would agree to a relay. The technology of the time also did not help: cameras were bulky, a lot of extra lighting was required, and good audio coverage of actors moving about the stage was very hard to achieve.

Today, all that has changed: cameras are smaller, lighter, and more sensitive, which means less additional lighting needs to be installed. Radio microphones ensure perfect speech from any part of the stage. Digital video recording guarantees the quality of reproduction.

It really ought to be possible to ensure that memorable productions can be enjoyed, long after they have closed, by audiences in Britain and abroad.

Yours etc,

Noble Wilson

Long Ditton, Surrey

7 December