In a special tribute to film director Sir Alan Parker, BBC Arts presents a freshly restored print of his 1975 television drama The Evacuees, showing in its original 4:3 screen aspect ratio, tonight on BBC Four.
Starring Maureen Lipman and written by Jack Rosenthal and based on Jack’s wartime experiences. The BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning television drama tells the story of two young Jewish boys in World War Two as they are evacuated from Manchester to a small seaside town. It was Alan Parker’s first feature length work, ahead of directing classic films, including Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express and Evita.
Film Producer, Lord David Puttnam, who worked with Alan on several films, says: “Alan was very much a film maker, to the extent that he had no interest in ever wanting to tell the same, or even a similar story, twice.
“By the time he was offered The Evacuees he was not only in awe of Jack Rosenthal’s writing but had fallen head over heels in love with the process of directing; he’d found the perfect career, and one which he found incredibly fulfilling.”
Graham Benson, who was a BBC Executive on the drama and has been working on its restoration says: “I knew from day one that I’d never worked with anyone quite like Alan and I was also instantly aware that he was going to be someone very big and important in movies.
“He had such a natural talent and it covered every facet of the job – handling the cast, an uncanny visual sense, strong, firm but also funny on set… simply inspirational. We became firm friends on The Evacuees and that developed into 50 wonderful years of speaking and meeting regularly, right to the end. Everyone who worked with us on The Evacuees never forgot the extraordinary experience.”
This is the first time the drama has been screened on television since 2004. Sir Alan Parker’s interview with Jeremy Isaacs for the Face to Face programme will also be broadcast tonight, after The Evacuees.