Joseph Oldham
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Conspiracy as a crisis of procedure in Bird of Prey (BBC 1, 1982) and Edge of Darkness (BBC 2, 1985)
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This chapter considers several dramas, all of which were produced by the BBC. With ITV showing little apparent interest in the conspiracy genre during 1973, these serials can be broadly positioned in a specifically public service impulse to provide challenging dramatic engagements with contemporary issues. Firstly Bird of Prey (BBC 1, 1982) is largely focused on anxiety surrounding the free market economy, particularly through the growing influence of sinister forces from an increasingly integrated Europe. The chapter explores the emphasis that the narrative places on computers and the surveillance state, adding new terrain for both individual agency and fear of political repression. It examines Edge of Darkness (BBC 2, 1985), a far more stylish and prestigious drama which mounts a sombre examination of the nuclear state in a climate of increased Cold War tension.

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Paranoid visions

Spies, conspiracies and the secret state in British television drama


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