Alice in Wonderland (1966 TV play)

Alice in Wonderland (1966) is a BBC television play, shot on film, based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It was directed by Jonathan Miller, then best known for his appearance in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe.

Alice in Wonderland
Directed byJonathan Miller
Produced byJonathan Miller
Written byLewis Carroll (novel)
Jonathan Miller (adaptation)
Based onAlice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll
StarringJohn Gielgud
Peter Cook
Leo McKern
Peter Sellers
Anne-Marie Mallik
Music byRavi Shankar
CinematographyDick Bush
Edited byPam Bosworth
Distributed byBBC
Release date
UK 28 December 1966
Running time
72 min
CountryUnited Kingdom

Miller's production is unique among live-action Alice films in that he consciously avoided the standard Tenniel-inspired costume design and "florid" production values. Most of the Wonderland characters are played by actors in standard Victorian dress, with a real cat used to represent the Cheshire Cat. Miller justified his approach as an attempt to return to what he perceived as the essence of the story: "Once you take the animal heads off, you begin to see what it's all about. A small child, surrounded by hurrying, worried people, thinking 'Is that what being grown up is like?'"[1]

The play featured a number of prominent British actors including Michael Redgrave (as the Caterpillar), John Gielgud (as the Mock Turtle), and Peter Sellers (as the King of Hearts), as well as two of Miller's fellow cast members from Beyond the Fringe, Peter Cook and Alan Bennett as the Mad Hatter and the Mouse, respectively. The title role was played by Anne-Marie Mallik, the 13-year-old daughter of a Surrey barrister, this being her only known acting performance. Wilfrid Brambell played the White Rabbit, Michael Gough (who later appeared in Tim Burton's 2010 film adaptation) and Wilfrid Lawson were the March Hare and the Dormouse, Alison Leggatt was the Queen of Hearts, and Leo McKern did a drag turn as the Ugly Duchess. The journalist and broadcasting personality Malcolm Muggeridge was The Gryphon. John Bird played the Fish Footman. The play also featured a young Eric Idle, several years before Monty Python brought him notice, uncredited as a member of the Caucus Race. David Battley appears briefly as the Executioner.

Interior scenes were shot at Netley Hospital, a mid-19th-century building that was demolished not long after the film was made.[2]

The courtroom scene was shot at the BBC's Ealing Studios and involved the building of the largest set that Stage 2 at Ealing had ever seen.[3]

Ravi Shankar wrote the music for the production, which was first broadcast on 28 December 1966.


  1. Thill, Scott (November 2003). "Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland (1966) on DVD". Bright Lights Film Journal, Issue #42. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  2. Also known as the Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley Hospital was the world's longest building at the time it was completed.
  3. David Martin A History of the BBC's Film Department (1983)
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