Sunday, 5 October 2014


NEWS: Yes, sounds like the kind of announcement you may hear on any train station platform up and down the UK... 'The 19:84 from Scunthorpe to London, has been delayed until 20:15. We aploogise for the delay..! No this is news that the BFI DVD of '1984', (Remastered and Restored) adapted by Nigel Kneale, produced by Rudolph Cartier and starring Peter Cushing, has been delayed until March 2015.

This official release has been a long time coming, though groggy-fuzzy bootlegs from Spain and the US have given us a tantalizing taster over the years. Though I will tell you that this release has been on the table and had several false starts since 2004!

In 2004, it was announced that it the BBC 1984 television play would be released by DD Video. This was followed by a press release from  DD and with the news that considerable effort had been made in order to present the programme in the best possible quality.

The DD Press release of 2004:

Classic TV specialist DD Home Entertainment claims to have set a new quality benchmark on its restoration work for the 1954 BBC drama Nineteen Eighty-Four.

This early landmark of British television, which will be available for the first time ever on DVD and video on November 8th, required extensive work on it, but viewers will – according to DD – find the restored picture even better than when it was first transmitted.  In December 1954 videotape recorders (even for broadcast use) were two years away and existed, if at all, only in prototype form in research laboratories.

Since 1947 BBC engineers had been able to make crude recordings of TV pictures simply by pointing a film camera at a monitor screen.  However, dramas were not recorded until 1953 and Nineteen Eighty-Four remains one of the earliest surviving examples of the art-form. It was recorded at the time using an ingenious system of modified telecine machines.

New transfers of the film recording were commissioned from BBC Resources using its highest quality Spirit Datacine equipment. Special arrangements were made with the BBC Film and Videotape Library for access to the archive master material, which cannot normally be used.

The new copies of the play were graded. This is the process of taking each shot (or even part shot) and adjusting the brightness and contrast. Dirty cuts (where a frame is made of superimposed and distorted pictures from two cameras) were removed or, where possible, repaired using paintbox techniques.

Nineteen Eighty-Four will be available from November 8th 2004

Needless to say, the  DVD never arrived in November 2004, the word was there had been 'problems' and a dispute with author George Orwell's estate. Things went very , very quiet for  a long time.....

Then in July 2014, the BFI announced that they would be releasing the 2004 restored DVD as part of their 'Days of Fear and Wonder' SF season... but that too has now been postponed until March 2015. 

Orwell estate trying to claw the last few few bucks from their rights to the material, before it slips into from their ownership? BFI busy putting together some worth while extra features? Who knows...

Until March of next year, we sit and wait...
Another slice of buffet car coffe anyone?  

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