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Brian Robinson

Tuesday 14th June 2016
Doors open at 6:30 pm, Talk commences at 7:00 pm

Widely considered to be the greatest English-speaking actor of the 20th Century, Olivier's career spanned over 6o years with 12 Oscar nominations. His first taste of West End success came in 1930 with a starring role in Noel Coward's Private Lives and within five years he was starring alongside John Gielgud in what is considered by many to be the greatest Shakespearean production of Romeo and Juliet ever.

His Hollywood breakthrough came shortly after as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights in 1939. He served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War and in 1944 directed his patriotic version of Henry V. After the war he revitalised the Old Vic and was producer-director of the National Theatre, accepting many rather questionable movie roles to fund this project. The main auditorium of the National Theatre is named after him, as are the annual awards bestowed by the Society of West End Theatre. In 1970 he became the first thespian to be elevated to a life peerage. He died in 1989 and became only the second actor to be interred in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

In this talk, Brian Robinson, film archivist and historian at the British film institute, examines the life and distinguished career of one of Britain's greatest actors.

Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson is a film archivist and historian at the British Film Institute. He has been described as 'a minor British institution' and 'a walking encyclopaedia on silent film'. Communications Manager and Senior Programmer of the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, Brian has been at the BFI for 25 years.

Tickets £20 including a glass of prosecco. Please click here to buy.


5th April 2016
Geoffrey Marsh on David Bowie

3rd May 2016
Peter Berthoud on London Spectaculars -
the City's Forgotten Theatrical Pleasures

14th June 2016
Brian Robinson on Laurence Olivier

12th July 2016
Jude Kelly on Joan Littlewood

19th September 2016
Antonia Fraser on Harold Pinter

11th October 2016
Neil McKenna on Oscar Wilde - the Dramatist

8th November 2016
Ian Kelly on Samuel Foote

In 1863, a French wine merchant called Daniel Nicholas Thévenon and his wife arrived in England in a bid to escape the clutches of creditors in Paris. So began a story that grew out of bankruptcy and culminated in the creation of Regent Street’s Café Royal: a truly remarkable and original establishment with what was considered at one point to have the greatest wine cellar in the world and was reputed for its excellent hospitality, dining and entertainment. 

Frequented by writers and artists such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, the conversations, inspirations and discussions at ‘The Café’ were profound. Arthur Conan Doyle, H G Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, W B Yeats, Walter Sickert and James McNeill Whistler were all patrons. Distinguished figures such as Winston Churchill, Augustus John, D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Noël Coward, Jacob Epstein and Graham Greene were also often seen.