Celebrating Waris Hussein


  •   SUN 25 FEB, 17:30 – SCREENING + INTRO: Intimate Contact (Central TV, 1987) / Onstage: director Waris Hussein and actor Claire Bloom

In February BFI Southbank will celebrate the remarkable career of WARIS HUSSEIN, UK television’s first director of South Asian descent and the youngest drama director appointed by BBC television in 1960; the highlight of the season will be Waris Hussein In Conversation with Samira Ahmed on Tuesday 6 February.

Hussein is perhaps best known as the director who, along with producer Verity Lambert, brought us Doctor Who. However this definitive season celebrates his illustrious career that included some of the finest TV drama of the era, including the television play of A Passage to India (Play of the Month, BBC 1965) which came almost  two decades before David Lean’s celebrated film; the screening was introduced by actor Virginia McKenna alongside Hussein on Tuesday 6 February.

On Sunday 11 February Ian McKellen will join Hussein for a discussion following a screening of A Touch of Love (1969), which follows Rosamund who finds herself pregnant from her first sexual encounter with a charming news announcer George, played by McKellen. McKellen also appeared in Hussein’s Hedda Gabler (Play of the Month, BBC 1972) alongside Dame Janet Suzman, who will join Hussein on Monday 19 February to introduce a screening of the play. Hussein marshals an incredible cast in this intelligent and perceptive production of Ibsen’s classic play. Suzman captures the full visceral power of Hedda, a woman trapped by the petty bourgeoisie society in which she lives. Hussein also belongs to that exclusive group of UK directors to have made it on both sides of the Atlantic, having won an Emmy for Copacabana (1985) starring Barry Manilow. The musical is based on the famous song and sees Manilow in a rare acting role as a pianist in Manhattan’s Copacabana Lounge. Hussein was also the first director on UK television to tackle the Aids crisis with Intimate Contact (Central TV, 1987), a series that made a huge and vitally important impact at a time when the disease was in full force but little understood. All four episodes of the series will screen on Sunday 25 February with an introduction from Hussein and actor Claire Bloom before Episode 3.

Other dramas screening in the season will include The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972) a chiller about demonic possession starring Shirley MacLaine, Chips with Everything (Play of the Month, BBC 1975) Hussein’s TV adaptation of Arnold Wesker’s play critiquing the British class system, and the rich and exotic romantic fable Three Weeks: Romance (Thames TV, 1977).

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