‘A professional’s contest’
Procedure and bureaucracy in Special Branch (ITV, 1969–74) and The Sandbaggers (ITV, 1978–80)
in Paranoid visions
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This chapter examines two key programmes from the 1970s which were among the first to discard the thinly defined fictional agencies of the 1960s and make more serious claims towards representations of an ostensible 'real thing'. It also examines Special Branch (ITV, 1969-74), a series focused on the Metropolitan Police unit of the same name whose brief was focused on maintaining national security, gathering intelligence and protecting the state against threats of subversion. The chapter then describes The Sandbaggers (ITV, 1978-80), a series which focused on a fictional Special Operations section within SIS, which was notable for its unprecedented drive to demystify the bureaucracies of the intelligence world. The chapter provides some background information regarding shifts in the aesthetics of television drama over the late 1960s and early 1970s, arguing that this too had a key impact on changing conceptions of 'realism'.

Paranoid visions

Spies, conspiracies and the secret state in British television drama

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