Turned Out Proud was a BBC commission shown in the Music at Ten series and was MacMillan’s third television work after Punch and the Child and The Dreamers, an adaptation for television of Somnambulism. Broadcast live from the former Lime Grove studios in Shepherd’s Bush, London, it was Margaret Dale’s first project for the BBC. A former dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, Dale in years to come adapted and directed much of The Royal Ballet’s work for television.
Turned Out Proud was a danced revue in nine parts, introduced by an opera-cloaked impresario (actor John Neville of the Old Vic). The dancers came from the two Sadler’s Wells companies, along with one star guest, Violette Verdy. According to Dance and Dancers, a pas de deux for Verdy and Gilbert Vernon was ‘the highlight of the evening’. There was also a 1920s pastiche for Julia Farron, who, dancing in a park, tried to distract four boys from reading their newspapers. “The programme closed”, Dance and Dancers recorded, “with a rousing blues of those terrible twenties and the days of New Orleans jazz. Verdy, brandishing a long cigarette-holder, might almost have wandered in from I am a Camera”.
The music was chosen less for its innate quality than for the fact that it did not attract copyright fees. Critical reaction was mostly warm; The Stage declared it “an experiment to be encouraged”; Dance and Dancers praised MacMillan’s unceasing invention, while Mary Clarke, writing in the Ballet Annual thought it “the liveliest half hour of television dancing for a long time.”
First performance: 23 October 1955
BBC TV dir Margaret Dale
Cast: John Neville, Violette Verdy, Julia Farron, Gilbert Vernon, Sonya Hana, Sheila O'Neill, John Stevens