Cultural Exchange as Post-war Renewal

Thursday 15 - Saturday 17 June, Senate House


Organiser: Dr Irene Morra, Cardiff University

The conference is a major international, interdisciplinary event to be held at the Institute of English Studies, and organised in collaboration with the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University. Coinciding with and celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, this conference will focus on the strong culture of artistic exchange, influence, and dialogue between Canada and Britain, with a particular but not exclusive emphasis on the decades after World War II.

This conference aims to expose and explore the breadth of this exchange of social and cultural ideals, artistic talent, intellectual traditions, and aesthetic formulations. A variety of critical and disciplinary perspectives will be explored, with scholars and practitioners working in theatre, history, literature, politics, music, film and television, cultural studies, design, and visual art.

Twitter: #BritainCanada150


15 June: Plenary Discussion and Screening: Sydney Newman

Film and Television Producers Tony Garnett (Up the Junction; Cathy Come Home) and Kenith Trodd (Pennies from Heaven; The Singing Detective) in conversation with TV consultant Dick Fiddy and producer John Wyver, followed by two rare screenings from Armchair Theatre'.

This event is open to conference attendees and is not bookable as a separate event. To attend the event, please register for the conference using the REGISTER NOW button below.

Sydney Newman Panel Discussion

Sydney Newman worked at the National Film Board of Canada during World War Two and after a year with NBC Television in New York he joined the fledgling television service of the CBC. He oversaw CBC's dynamic drama output in the mid-1950s and encouraged young talent including directors such Ted Kotcheff and Charles Jarrott. He was tempted to Britain in 1958 to work for the ITV company ABC where he transformed the Armchair Theatre strand into a showcase for contemporary social drama. In late 1962 he joined the BBC as Head of Drama, starting Doctor Who in 1963 and The Wednesday Play the following year, as well as green-lighting The Forsyte Saga in 1967. Although he returned to Canada in 1970, he is recognised as one of British television's most influential executives.

Two of British television’s most significant drama producers, Tony Garnett and Kenith Trodd, worked under Newman at the BBC in the 1960s, and they contribute to a discussion of his character, his working methods and his influence. 

Tony Garnett produced some of British television’s most politically radical drama, including Up the Junction (1965) and Cathy Come Home (1966) for The Wednesday Play strand. Known especially for his collaborations with director Ken Loach, he has also made major television films with Mike Leigh, Jim Allen, Barry Himes and G.F. Newman. He recently published his disarmingly honest memoir The Day the Music Died. Kenith Trodd also worked as a story editor on The Wednesday Play, where he collaborated with writers including Julia Jones, David Mercer and Dennis Potter. He produced many of Potter’s later dramas including Pennies from Heaven (1977) and The Singing Detective (1986). 

Joining them to consider Sydney Newman’s contribution to British television is TV consultant Dick Fiddy, who is curating a forthcoming Sydney Newman retrospective for BFI Southbank in 2018.

Screening: Sydney Newman’s Armchair Theatre

Armchair Theatre strand had been started by ABC Television before Sydney Newman arrived in Britain in 1958, but its Sunday night offerings quickly became associated with his commitment to original dramas engaged with contemporary issues. This screening is a rare opportunity to see two of the surviving productions, the first a social drama of working-class life and the other an ambitious tale of the space race with an intriguing Canadian connection. The pairing also highlights the talents of two of the directors who first worked with Newman at CBC in the mid-1950s and then followed him to Britain, Ted Kotcheff and Charles Jarrott. Curated and introduced by producer and media historian John Wyver.

Lena, O My Lena (1960)

Writer: Alun Owen; director: Ted Kotcheff; producer: Sydney Newman; 50 minutes.

Alun Owen’s play is set in a Lancashire factory, and is among the most distinguished examples of the series’ social realist drama. A cross-class tale of love, it features Peter McEnery as a young student and Billie Whitelaw as a hard-bitten factory worker. Director Ted Kotcheff demonstrates an innovative approach to the developing conventions of studio drama and draws exceptional performances from a cast that also includes Colin Blakely.

The Man Out There (1961)

Writer: Donal Giltinan; director: Charles Jarrott; producer: Sydney Newman; 50 minutes.

Patrick McGoohan is a Russian astronaut who is trapped in orbit by malfunctioning equipment. Freak electric storms mean that the only person he can communicate with is Marie, played by Katharine Blake, who is herself caught in blizzard in a remote Canadian cabin. He has to work out how to get home, she has to deal with a mortally ill child. Imaginative direction by Jarrott enlivens this space race tale shown just a month before Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. 


16 June: Public Screening: Robin and Mark and Richard III*

Post-screening Q&A with director Susan Coyne, award-winning stage and screen actor, writer and producer (Slings and Arrows, Mozart in the Jungle). Chaired by Liza Giffen (Stratford Festival).

The screening is an intimate exploration of the legacy of the renowned theatre director Robin Phillips and the intricacies of creative collaboration in the theatre. Over the course of three years, film-makers followed Robin Phillips and actor and writer Mark McKinney (The Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, Slings and Arrows) as they worked together on a piece from Richard III. Interspersed with this exploration are reflections on the insights and standards that informed Phillips's productions, including appearances from Dame Maggie Smith, Brent Carver, and Martha Henry. 

The screening and appearance of Susan Coyne is funded by the Canada-UK Foundation. The screening will be followed by a wine reception funded by the Canadian High Commission.

*This event is FREE for attendees of the conference, and £5 for participants not registered for the conference. Please CLICK HERE for more information.



Please click the REGISTER button below to register. Alternatively, please complete and download the below registration form, and return it along with your preferred payment method, to or by post at: IES Events Officer, Room 260, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU.

Registration form

The School of Advanced Study is part of the central University of London. The School takes its responsibility to visitors with special needs very seriously and will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to its facilities in order to accommodate the needs of such visitors. If you have a particular requirement, please feel free to discuss it confidentially with the organiser in advance of the event taking place.

Enquiries: Events Officer, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; Email: 

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