Then this morning I received news from Alan Chattaway (via his brother Peter) who very kindly passed on some information on the film online courtesy of Whirligig TV. There are a few photos (including the one above) and the following summary.
Television history was certainly made in 1956 by a series of eight programmes produced weekly by the BBC. This was the first full-life reportage of the life of Jesus Christ to be created for television. In it, for the first time, an actor appeared in the complete role of Jesus; the part was taken by Tom Fleming. Treated as an experiment, Jesus of Nazareth was placed in the children's programmes slot on Sundays. But it attracted an adult audience whose appreciation placed it, as a BBC survey showed, next to the Coronation of 1953 in national appeal.Sadly, whilst Whirligig mentions Paul of Tarsus it doesn't appear to have any further information on it at present.
The series was was produced by Joy Harington. It was considered her most notable work for television and she received the 1956 award of the Guild of Television Producers and Directors (now BAFTA), the first to be presented for a children's serial. A live studio production with exteriors filmed on location in Galilee and Jerusalem, it was a courageous undertaking. At that time, censorship regulations prohibited the portrayal of Christ by an actor in public performances. However, the Central Religious Council approved the project and Tom Fleming was cast as Jesus Christ. The serial was an outstanding success. Harington followed with a similar ten-part series, Paul of Tarsus (BBC, 1960), for which the exteriors were filmed mainly in Crete.
Labels: Old BBC Bible films