De Francia, Peter (9 of 20). National Life Stories Collection: Artists' Lives.

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  • Recording date

    2000-02-24, 2000-03-23, 2000-05-15, 2000-07-20, 2000-08-11, 2000-09-28, 2000-10-04, 2001-02-14

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home in London

  • Interviewees

    De Francia, Peter, 1921-2012 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Roberts, Melanie (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    PdeF asks not to continue talking about America but talks instead about his time in Britain working for BBC TV at Alexandra Palace. He says he was puzzled that he should be chosen to be trained as a producer, describing the work environment as Machiavellian and not entirely enjoyable. He goes on to describe the pressures of producing live programmes including ones on Gozzoli's Procession of the Magi, Picasso's Birthday and one produced with Bronowski on Leonardo da Vinci. PdeF mentions how talented Geoffrey Grigson was at spot-editing scripts. He returned to painting when the pressure became too much for him, adding that had has never owned a television. PdeF continues talking about TV and how ratings were used as a measure of one's success. No programmes of the time focussed on contemporary art which he felt was a taboo subject. He particularly mentions the excellence of the technical staff naming a Czech lighting engineer, Svoboda. Geoffrey Grigson was considered by PdeF to be a disappointed man, noting that GG had an extraordinary total recall memory. PF talks about the almost total self sufficiency of the production unit where research was done by producers. When he left the BBC he took a big studio in Belsize Park. He mentions having a very close relationship with John Berger until the mid-sixties. He ends by talking about writing and his relationship to the acquisition of knowledge.

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