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Theatre 625 is a British television drama anthology series, produced by the BBC and transmitted on BBC2 from 1964 to 1968. It was one of the first regular programmes in the line-up of the channel, and the title referred to its production and transmission being in the higher-definition 625-line format, which only BBC2 used at the time.
Overall, 114 ninety-minute plays were produced, and for its final year from 1967 the series was produced in colour, BBC2 being the first channel in Europe to broadcast in colour. Some of the best-known productions screened in the strand included a new version of Nigel Kneale's 1954 adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1965); the four-part Talking to a Stranger by John Hopkins (1966) which told the same story from four different viewpoints, and starred Judi Dench; and 1968's science-fiction allegory The Year of the Sex Olympics, again by Kneale.
As much British television output of the 1960s, many editions of Theatre 625 were not retained. However, Talking to a Stranger has been repeated in recent years, and issued in a DVD box-set of Dench's television work for the BBC. In a 2000 poll of industry experts conducted by the British Film Institute to find the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of the 20th century, Talking to a Stranger was placed seventy-eighth.
Following the conclusion of the series in 1968, some of the colour plays were later repeated on BBC1 in the new Play for Today strand in the early 1970s. The Year of the Sex Olympics was released on DVD by the BFI in 2003, although in black and white, as the original colour videotape was wiped, with only a film telerecording surviving in the archives.
Some episodes, previously thought to be lost were discovered in Washington D.C. in 2010.
"625 lines" refers to the total number of lines transmitted; however, some of the lines constitute part of the blanking interval. The actual picture only constitutes 576 lines; in terms of digital television this is equivalent to 576i.
- Armchair Theatre
- Comedy Playhouse
- The Wednesday Play
- ITV Playhouse
- Play for Today
- The Afternoon Play
- Screen One
- Lawson, Mark (10 November 2010). "Yesterday's heroes: the lost treasure trove of BBC drama". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
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