Thursday, 4 February 2016

Theme Time : Billy Taylor - Film...

The theme that every film buff in the UK knows, the theme that has been around on the BBC since 1971 and continues to this very day. It's Billy Taylor's I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free, and the programme is of course Film...

Starting in 1971 as Film '71 local programme only for the BBC's South East region, it became a nationwide late night mainstay the following year and started with a rota of hosts including Joan Bakewell, Ian Johnstone, Frederic Raphael and, of course, Barry Norman - the man who became the show's most famous presenter, taking the helm for Film '72 and concluding presenting duties twenty-six years later with Film '98. Beloved of impersonators and Spitting Image, he claims never to have uttered what became - in the public's mind, at least - his catchphrase, ''And why not?''

For Film '99 a new presenter was found in the form of the hugely successful motormouth and rather Marmite TV personality Johnathan Ross. Wossy - as he is known on account of a speech impediment which means he cannot pronounce his 'R's' - presented the show until he left the BBC in 2010, dogged by his part in the notorious 'Sachsgate' Radio 2 scandal two years previously which saw Film... taken off the air for twelve weeks whilst the host was suspended.

Since 2010 the show has been hosted by two presenters, the delightful Claudia Winkleman and film critic Danny Leigh. Like Wossy, Winkleman is something of a Marmite personality and, when she was announced as the show's main host, Damon Wise of film magazine Empire claimed that, like the then recently axed Top of the Pops, Film... would become "another BBC flagship show that was allowed to slide out of existence" Well, Claudia and Danny are currently hosting Film 2016 meaning that the show has been running for six years now, with no sign of sliding out of existence yet. It's actually thriving very well as a live TV show, having gone live in 2010 at Winkleman's behest. In recent years, both Claudia and Danny have been joined on the sofa by a guest critic each week including Antonia Quirke, Robbie Collin and Camilla Long to name but a few.

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