Death of a master narrative
The battle for consensus in A Very British Coup (Channel 4, 1988)
in Paranoid visions
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The 1980s had seen the development of a new kind of serialised conspiracy drama demonstrating great anxiety over the growing hegemony of Thatcherite politics. In the final years of the decade, however, a new conspiracy drama would take a somewhat different approach, beginning instead with the apparent defeat of Thatcherism. A Very British Coup (Channel 4, 1988) opens with the coming to power of a radical socialist Labour government in an imagined General Election of 1991 on a manifesto of reversing a decade of Thatcherite policies and unilateral nuclear disarmament. The victory of a socialist Labour government is therefore sited in an imagined popular disenchantment with the dominant political culture of the 1980s, and furthermore a reformed social-democratic consensus to reclaim the country on behalf of the economically marginalised. A Very British Coup converges two paranoid visions of the intelligence world.

Paranoid visions

Spies, conspiracies and the secret state in British television drama


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