Unlike most movies that are famous long before shooting has even begun, Gone With The Wind (World, 9.30pm) lived up to expectations. Indeed, GWTW was famous before casting had even taken place: once Margaret Mitchell's novel hit the bookshelves, casting it became a national obsession. The part of Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara was the most coveted in movie history. Letters and calls poured into producer David O Selznick's office suggesting everyone from Jean Harlow to Marie Dressler to play Scarlett. Someone even suggested a British actress named Vivien Leigh. In Atlanta, Mitchell was besieged by mothers who wanted their tap-dancing daughters to be in the film, society matrons whose cooks were perfect for the slave roles, and one portly woman who barged into the author's house while smearing lampblack on her face and reciting Mammy's speeches from the novels. Selznick mounted a massive, nationwide talent search to see if there was an unknown actress who was right for the role. In all, 1,400 candidates were interviewed and 90 tested over two years. Every major star was under consideration, including Miriam Hopkins, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn and Paulette Goddard. In 1938, Leigh was still in Britain where, although her star was in the ascendant, she was facing a long separation from her fiance, Laurence Olivier, who was going to Hollywood to make Wuthering Heights. On the long trip to spend Christmas in Hollywood with Olivier, she re-read GWTW and began working on facial expressions and gestures for Scarlett. Olivier had signed Myron Selznick as his agent and the two convinced his brother to meet Leigh. He was impressed and added her to the list of actresses who made the final tests. With George Cukor, he screened the footage of Leigh, Goddard, Joan Bennett and Jean Arthur. At a Christmas Day party, Cukor took Leigh aside and informed her, 'I guess we're stuck with you.' Her performance won Leigh the Best Actress Oscar; she took it again in 1951 for Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, not bad going for an actress who made fewer than 20 films in her career. Although GWTW contains inevitable touches of racism and sexism, it remains a timeless piece of entertainment. As Olivia De Havilland said: 'Every time I see it, I find something fresh, some shade of meaning I hadn't noticed before . . . How fortunate that so many gifted people found immortality on Gone With The Wind.' My sincere apologies to Bernard Long ('TVB - no time for Bethlehem', Letters, March 15) and anyone else whose viewing of The Sculptress was ruined by my revealing the ending. My decision to explain it was based on the numerous inquiries I received as to who had committed the murders; if you have now watched the two-part drama, you will understand the confusion. If I am unable to discuss programmes following airing for fear of upsetting those who have recorded the show, then I am afraid I will indeed be short of material. The reason the explanation appeared two days after screening is the result of production deadlines. Incidentally, I cannot agree more with your comments about the less-than-judicious editing of Rough Guide To The World ; it is just one example of how good programmes are chopped and cut to appease the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority and advertisers. Viewers, it seems, are third-class citizens. Contact me in the future with your views and I will happily air them in this column.