"The last small-screen production of a play by George Bernard Shaw was back in 1991, yet the Irish playwright remains the second most performed dramatist on British television. (No prizes for guessing the first.) From the 1930s on, television had a lengthy love affair with plays by Edwardian dramatists, at least until studio drama was elbowed aside by film in the 1990s and theatre plays on screen went the way of the dodo and the dirigible. Viewers enjoyed frequent productions of Oscar Wilde and John Galsworthy, as well as many by their near contemporaries from abroad, Anton Chekhov and Henrik Ibsen (who comes third in the league table of performances). But in numerical terms, Shaw was always in a class by himself."
I'd say this is probably true internationally. Not every non-English TV movie from long ago is on the IMDb, but things like Caesar & Cleopatra were widely chosen in many countries for a while in the 1950s and 1960s, with even a version from Brazil. Even though, personally, I'm not sure it's the most appealing play.
But isn't this bound to happen sooner or later? Terence Rattigan for example seems to be suffering the same fate.
And now I will read the article, maybe it already deals with these points too.
Good points,RW, and they do look at some of the possible reasons. Despite everything, I'm surprised that Shaw is out of the canon.
Given this is the ME site, this is worth pasting::
"Frustratingly, as is so often the case with classic television, little of this legacy remains. More than half of television's Shaw productions were broadcast before 1953, the year from which we have the first recordings of (non-Shavian) television plays. Many of the later productions have gone too, including Judi Dench's 1962 performance in the role of Major Barbara, of which The Times wrote "she has to perfection the golden girl quality, the hockey captain under the uniform". Most of James MacTaggart's 1968 production of Man and Superman, featuring Maggie Smith and Eric Porter, was also wiped, although a sequence of about three minutes survives in a documentary profile of Porter."
Nor is it an issue just with television adaptations- for example, there have been only five Broadway productions of Shaw's plays in the twenty-first century, and it cannot simply be a matter of financial concerns given that a considerable number of Broadway houses are run by non-profits.