BBC Sunday-Night Theatre (1950–1959)
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 

In a totalitarian future society, Winston Smith, whose daily work is re-writing history, tries to rebel by falling in love.


Rudolph Cartier


George Orwell (novel), Nigel Kneale (adapted as a television play by) | 1 more credit »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Cushing ... Winston Smith
André Morell ... O'Brien
Yvonne Mitchell ... Julia Dixon
Donald Pleasence ... Syme
Arnold Diamond ... Emmanuel Goldstein
Campbell Gray Campbell Gray ... Parsons
Hilda Fenemore Hilda Fenemore ... Mrs. Parsons
Pamela Grant Pamela Grant ... Parsons Girl
Keith Davis Keith Davis ... Parsons Boy
Janet Barrow Janet Barrow ... Woman Supervisor
Norman Osborne Norman Osborne ... First Youth
Tony Lyons Tony Lyons ... Second Youth
Malcolm Knight Malcolm Knight ... Third Youth
John Baker John Baker ... First Man
Victor Platt Victor Platt ... Second Man


In a totalitarian future society, Winston Smith, whose daily work is re-writing history, tries to rebel by falling in love.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Did You Know?


Donald Pleasance would later also appear as Parsons in the 1956 film version by Michael Anderson and as SEN in the very Orwellian 'THX 1138' (1971) by George Lucas. See more »


In the canteen, after Winston has said goodbye to Syme, the camera settles back on him and moves forward, bumping into the dining table in the process. See more »


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


Version of Studio One in Hollywood: 1984 (1953) See more »

User Reviews

The original BBC telecast that made Peter Cushing a sensation
14 May 2014 | by kevinolzakSee 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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Release Date:

12 December 1954 (UK) See more »


Box Office


GBP3,249 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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