Project research fellow Hollie Price delivered a paper titled ‘Jill Craigie at the BBC: Filmmaker, Writer and Television Personality’ at the Critical Studies in Television Workshop – 100 Years of Women at the BBC
Organised by the Institute of Social Responsibility, Edge Hill University.
In 1949, Jill Craigie wrote to Cecil McGivern, the BBC’s television programme director, stating that she was ‘bursting with ideas for television’. In histories of British cinema, Craigie is best known for directing socially committed documentaries examining contemporary issues of postwar reconstruction (The Way We Live, 1946) and equal pay (To Be a Woman, 1951), and Blue Scar (1949), her only feature film, depicts the process of nationalisation in a South Wales mining village. In the 1940s, she was promoted as ‘Britain’s first woman filmmaker’ and her battles to make and distribute her films received widespread press attention. Drawing on records held at the BBC Written Archives Centre, this paper explores the development of Craigie’s career at the BBC: in the early years of the newly re-established television service, she appeared on a number of women’s afternoon television programmes and, behind the scenes, worked on a ‘dramatised documentary’ about the suffragette movement planned to raise awareness of the struggle for the vote for contemporary women’s rights. Using the BBC’s archival materials to expand on her cross-media career, I therefore highlight Craigie’s enthusiasm for adapting to work in television in this period and, vice versa, the BBC’s interest in her public image as a modern career woman, in her feminist views and knowledge of the suffrage movement, and, by the early 1950s, in her potential as a television personality.
For more information, please visit: https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/isr/100-years-of-women-at-the-bbc/