BBC Sunday-Night Theatre: Season 5, Episode 50

Nineteen Eighty-Four (12 Dec. 1954)

TV Episode  |   |  Drama
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George Orwell's novel of a totalitarian future society in which a man whose daily work is rewriting history tries to rebel by falling in love.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Yvonne Mitchell ...
Arnold Diamond ...
Campbell Gray ...
Hilda Fenemore ...
Pamela Grant ...
Keith Davis ...
Janet Barrow ...
Woman Supervisor
Norman Osborne ...
First Youth
Tony Lyons ...
Second Youth
Malcolm Knight ...
Third Youth
John Baker ...
First Man
Victor Platt ...
Second Man


George Orwell's novel of a totalitarian future society in which a man whose daily work is rewriting history tries to rebel by falling in love.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

12 December 1954 (UK)  »

Box Office


£3,249 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When first screened by the BBC there were numerous public complaints and these led to questions being asked in the House of Commons See more »


When Winston Smith returns to his workstation and puts his glasses on in the first minutes of the film, a microphone boom shadow is clearly visible, See more »


Winston Smith: The rats had... Oh, God!
See more »


Referenced in Are You Being Served?: Coffee Morning (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

The original BBC telecast that made Peter Cushing a sensation
14 May 2014 | by (Youngstown,Ohio) – See all my reviews

The Dec 12 1954 live BBC telecast of Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" changed the career for star Peter Cushing forever after. His depiction of Winston Smith brought him to the attention of Hammer Films, who spent two years trying to sign him to a film, while a prolific string of teleplays kept him busier than ever. He deservedly won the Guild of Television Award for Best Actor for his performance here (the British equivalent of the American Emmy), yet was passed over for the feature version for Edmond O'Brien (only Donald Pleasence was retained from the BBC version, in a different part). In a repressed future society where 'War is Peace,' 'Freedom is Weakness,' and 'Ignorance is Strength,' thoughts and feelings are outlawed by the totalitarian government. Daring to love Julia Dixon (Yvonne Mitchell), Smith knows that there is no escape for them, only that 'some kinds of failure are better than others' (forbidden fruit is the best of all). Some critics rightly complained that Yvonne Mitchell's Julia lacked 'warmth,' but there was nothing but praise for Andre Morell's chilling O'Brien (replaced in the movie by Michael Redgrave), overseeing final punishment, using their own fears against them to completely wear down all defenses (no trace of humanity). As grueling as it is to watch now, one cannot imagine how shocking it must have been for viewers 60 years ago.

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