• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


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    Friday, December 07, 2007

    Troughton as Paul of Tarsus

    Mark Goodacre has discovered details of an old BBC series called Paul of Tarsus (1960) which starred Patrick Troughton in the leading role. Troughton performed the role six years before he became the second Dr. Who in 1966.

    Like Mark, I'd never heard of this film before. He quotes the brief entry in the BFI database ("A cycle of ten plays telling the story of the Acts of Christ's Apostles. BBC tx 1960/10/16 - 1960/12/18 (Sun)") and links to details of two episodes - To the Gentiles and The Feast of Pentecost - as well as the Cast List. The latter lists the writer, producer and director as Joy Harington, who, the following year, converted the production into a novel featuring pictures from the series. Mark's getting the book and will hopefully find out some more details. I'll echo his request for more information from anyone who knows more.

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    • At 12:40 pm, December 07, 2007, Blogger Mark Goodacre said…

      Thanks, Matt. I found a good number of copies of the book for sale second-hand for reasonably cheap (i.e. under £10 / $10) so you should be able to find a copy yourself fairly easily. The correct spelling is I think Harington.

    • At 8:27 am, December 15, 2007, Blogger Witlessd said…

      Hi Matt

      I did some research at the BFI Library and, digging through the old Radio Times, I gleaned the details below. I'm 99% sure I have a copy of the Radio Times introductory article, including an interview with Joy Harington, but it's in storage. When I get into my new house (hopefully very soon) I'll try and dig it up and send it to you.

      1. The Feast of Pentecost - 16 October 1960
      The story begins in Jerusalem seven weeks after the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. (Radio Times, 13 Oct 1960)

      2. The Road to Damascus - 23 October 1960
      In two years the number of Nazarenes in Jerusalem has increased to thousands. Many of the Jews from foreign lands joined them, and among these was a young man called Stephen (Radio Times, 20 Oct 1960)

      3. Simon Peter - 30 October 1960
      In Jerusalem there have been no more persecutions since Saul left the city, and Simon Peter and those disciples that remain have begun to meet again in the upper room. (Radio Times, 27 Oct 1960)

      4. Herod the King - 6 November 1960
      Just when the news of Jesus the Messiah is beginning to spread throughout Asia, a great famine strikes the lands of the East. (Radio Times, 3 Nov 1960)

      5. From Saul to Paul - 13 November 1960
      After his three years in Antioch, Paul together with Barnarbas and Mark, sets sail for Cyprus. (Radio Times, 10 Nov 1960)

      6. To the Gentiles - 20 November 1960
      Rejected by the Jews of Asia, Paul and Barnabas continue their journey and Paul preaches in the marketplace of a pagan city. (Radio Times, 17 Nov 1960)

      7. Greece - 27 November 1960

      8. Diana of the Ephesians - 4 December 1960
      After his bitter experience in Athens Paul stays in Corinth with fellow tent-makers, Priscilla and Aquilla. (Radio Times, 1 Dec 1960)

      9. Jerusalem - 10 December 1960
      Paul says farewell to the Churches in Asia and returns to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost (Radio Times, 8 Dec 1960)

      10. To Rome - 18 December 1960
      Paul, who has been a prisoner in Cesearea for three years, has appealed to have his case heard before the Emperor and awaits orders to go to Rome. (Radio Times, 15 Dec 1960)

      Filmed in Aghios Nikolaus, Crete, and at Ealing Studios.

    • At 7:20 am, February 20, 2009, Blogger Casey Jones said…

      I've been looking to find this for years as Pat is also my favourite Doctor. Unfortunately, due to the acting union Equity, many of these old shows were in fact wiped. The actor's union had a fairly strong contract which made it near impossible for stations to originally rerun shows more than twice at the time and film was very expensive.

      The contract that the BBC had to follow also applied to how many copies could be made for overseas sales as well as also limiting how many times an overseas station could show it. As a result, quite a few great shows became lost in time. Copies of every Doctor Who episode survived for overseas sales until the mid '70's but ufortunately the junking didn't stop until '78.

    • At 4:02 am, June 23, 2012, Blogger mackemlad888 said…

      I am 57 & I remember watching this as a 5 year old. But the title was definitely SAUL of Tarsus, not Paul of Tarsus.It was on about 5.35pm, in the 25 minutes before the 6pm News. John.


    • At 9:54 pm, May 23, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I too remember watching this series as a 10-year-old, and some scenes are still fresh in my mind half a century later! It came to mind this evening when someone remarked what a dramatic story this made as we read the last few chapters of Acts together, and I thought how sad it is that such a series was now lost.

      Delighted to see it commemorated here, and thanks to the previous commentator who was able list all 10 episodes.

    • At 8:32 am, June 03, 2013, Anonymous Simon Leese said…

      I am researching for a sermon for next week - and Galacians 1 11-24 is set down for the day. I TOO thought of the Troughton Saul which I TOO remembered as a young boy. The blinding flash on the road? Good to see others recall it too. Fancy it being so durable.

    • At 10:24 pm, June 16, 2013, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks everyone for your comments. Nice to hear so many of you remember it fondly.


    • At 11:29 am, March 09, 2014, Anonymous Victor Pemberton said…

      Hello Matt

      Only just discovered your site. I was on location in Crete for the filming of 'Paul of Tarsus', accompanying my friend, the late David Spenser, who played Saint Mark. I have an 8mm silent colour film of the location, plus photographs which I took for Joy Harrington when the official photographer was taken ill and had to return to the UK.

    • At 5:57 pm, July 06, 2018, Anonymous Tony Armstrong said…

      I remember watching as a child.
      Patrick Troughton's face will always be my mental image of St.Paul.
      I recall something about filming in Cyprus.
      Great Pity the series is lost: I'd happily have bought a DVD.
      I wonder if David Suchet - with his documentary of Paul, and dramatic interludes - would be up for a re-make.

    • At 4:10 pm, August 10, 2019, Blogger Unknown said…

      We had to study Acts at school for our RE 'O' Level course and I found this dry as dust until that year 'Paul of Tarsus' was being shown on BBC which made the whole story of Paul alive and enthralling. I wrote to the BBC before we even had computers then and later kept asking about this series, but sadly there seems to be no other recording having been made of this wonderful series. Fortunately the script writer, Joy Harrington, wrote a book based on each of the programme scripts 1961 with some photographs of the scenes. I still look at this now! It led me to realise the meaning of coming to know Christ. Always grateful for this series.

    • At 3:12 pm, August 31, 2019, Blogger Matt Page said…

      I have a copy of that book. I'm hoping to persuade Talking Pictures TV to show this at some stage, perhaps around next Easter.

    • At 9:50 pm, May 10, 2020, Blogger Paul Kelly said…

      how did you fare with getting a showing on this. it would be wonderful to see this series

    • At 6:31 pm, January 26, 2021, Blogger Unknown said…

      I watched the whole ten episodes while was just started at my second year at Manchester Grammar School. It gave me a deep appreciation of the historical figures so imaginatively portrayed in this TV series, and helped prepare me intellectually for following Christ when I subsequently gained a Scholarship to read Engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge.


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