James Burton
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Reframing the 1950s
Race and representation in recent
in Adjusting the contrast
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Television broadcasting in Britain has traditionally been the 'primary site where the nation is imagined and imagines itself'. This chapter examines a group of programmes broadcast since 2011 that engage with the domestic realities of London in the 1950s and presents a corrective to established notions of the nation at that time. Since the broadcast of its second episode, Call the Midwife has been the nation's top-rated show, regularly garnering an astonishing 30 per cent share of the total viewing audience. Where Call the Midwife has frequently been dismissed as cosy, Sunday evening heritage programming, The Hour was greeted as a 'quality' television with episode-by-episode review blogs appearing on the Guardian site and elsewhere. Arguably, The Hour represents the most confrontational engagement seen in British television drama with the institutional racism of 1950s Britain, the limited role of television to correct the era's dominant myths and the era's neo-fascism roots.

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Adjusting the contrast

British television and constructs of race


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