This film is part of Free

South Bank

Magnificent monument to the arts or architectural monstrosity? The jury's out on Britain's new National Theatre

1973 5 mins


Is this the "ugliest sight in Europe?" As the bulldozers move in on London's South Bank, this 1973 news report explores the latest uproar over modern architecture. Following in the footsteps of the Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery, building designs for the new National Theatre seem set to divide opinion. But as history teaches us, today's hideous edifice may well be tomorrow's magnificent monument.

This news item was released in 1973 as part of This Week in Britain, a long-running cinemagazine series from the Central Office of Information. Never seen by domestic UK audiences, TWIB was made on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for screening overseas, with the aim of promoting British culture, science and industry to international audiences. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.