An experiment in television drama
John McGrath’s The Adventures of Frank
in Experimental British television
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John McGrath took up the challenge himself, returning to television after an absence of several years to make The Adventures of Frank, a non-naturalistic drama combining the agitprop music-theatre of Joe of England with new video effects. This chapter examines the product of that experiment, placing it in the context of McGrath's other work and his own 1979 'manifesto' for progressive television. It considers the production in relation to other radical and experimental television drama produced in the 1970s and early 1980s. The production is a rare example in British television of a drama that attempts to combine Brechtian ideas with experimental television techniques in order to explore socio-political developments in Britain at the beginning of the 1980s. Throughout The Adventures of Frank different forms are played off against each other in a dialectical strategy intended to produce a politically active viewer.

Editor: Laura Mulvey


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