A People's Place is a Documentary programme.

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A People's Place

On the 50th anniversary of one of the most celebrated concert halls in the world, "The Royal Festival Hall - A People's Place" tells the story of one of Britain's best-loved buildings.

Built against the odds in less than two years, the Royal Festival Hall is the one permanent reminder of the 1951 Festival of Britain. Then Prime Minister, Clement Atlee said of it, "We shall show what our investors, our industrialists and our workers can do. But we shall also show that we are not just a nation of shopkeepers but a people who appreciate and practise the arts."

Using archive footage and testimony from witnesses such as Jean Symons, a young architecture student for spent 15 months on the building site, the film demonstrates the activity to get the building finished on time. It also explores the architecture and design of the building and goes both front of house and behind the scenes to capture the atmosphere today. Bridget Shield, Professor of Acoustics, enlightens the audience on what makes the hall sound the way it does, and Richard Baker remembers some great concerts from the past.

Archive footage from the Hall's superb history of performances during the last 50 years recalls some of the venue's finest moments from the past. Among them are: Igor Stravinsky conducting the "Firebird" in 1965, Maria Callas making her last appearance in London in 1973 and the then Prime Minister Edward Heath displaying his conducting skills at a Gala concert in 1971.

The Royal Festival Hall contains one of the largest organs in the world, which ahs a fan club of its own. It cost the enormous sum of £51,500 in the fifties and in post-war, rationed Britain it was built with the best quality tin and ivory. Organ curator William McVicker talksabout the instrument and its contribution to the Hall. In 1984 it even featured on "Jim'll Fix It!"

This documentary forms part of an evening celebrating the Royal Festival Hall's 50th anniversary, which continues after this programme.

Genre: Documentary