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Norman Hudis’ play The Powder Magazine is the latest BBC output to come under the watchful eye of the reviewers.

Under the headline “Pamela plus Roger equals Sparks!” Robert Cannell writes in the Daily Express of “Two remarkable vivid performances by Roger Livesey and Pamela Alan” and declares the play “one of the most satisfying pieces of drama for weeks.” But while “The scenes involving Mr Livesey and Miss Alan stood out because they were about people who matter, doing things about which they cared deeply” much of the remainder “was stodgy and the characters cardboard.” And that’s one of the most satisfying pieces of drama?

Cannell’s view could hardly be more different to that expressed by The Times‘ television reviewer (TR). TR’s introduction to the review rather gives the game away from the off: “A play offering a profound and witty insight into the working lives of those in charge of a woman’s magazine has apparently not yet been written. Mr Norman Hudis’s The Powder Magazine tried last night on television to make good this strange deficiency.”

So, TR is curious that this scenario has not – in his view – been accomplished successfully before. Or indeed here, because Hudis’ mistake, “was in imagining the clash of personalities in a women’s publishing house to be a theme for melodrama; it surely cries out for treatment as comedy.”

As the man in charge, TR feels that Roger Livesey was called upon to “storm and bluster” at the woman he has appointed to try to same one of his magazines from collapse. But the cast “could not make so crudely brewed a storm seem real”.

The review ends damningly: “The splendid printing machine screened during the interval was, indeed, the only authentic feature of the piece.”

The Times also publishes a letter to the editor which complains about new rules requiring that a political party should be putting up a minimum of 50 candidates before being allowed any party political broadcasts. Previously, the figure has been one-twelfth. The letter has a number of signatories, all from Wales, who point out that the limit appears to be deliberately designed to prevent any broadcasts by parties which confine their activities to Wales (or presumably Scotland, though this is not mentioned) where there are only 36 constituencies.

Wading in to the debate about the new rule preventing MPs from discussing subjects on air when they are due to be debated in Parliament, the Express‘s Cassandra quotes Labour MP Austen Albu who points out, “The government can always stop us discussing anything they like by introducing a Bill – or getting one of their supporters to do so – even if they have no intention of passing it into law.”

He continues, “For instance, in the last Parliament the government introduced a Bill to alter Teachers’ Pensions. It never went any further because of strong opposition, but under this rule no Member of Parliament could have discussed Teachers’ Pensions on the radio for nearly a year.”

He concludes, “I hereby give notice that, if ever I am asked to broadcast again, I have no intention whatsoever of observing this dangerous and ridiculous rule.”

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