Time Lords and Star Cops

British science fiction television in the 1970s–1980s

Philip Braithwaite
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British science fiction television series of the late 1970s and 1980s present dystopian worlds and fatalistic themes. They appear at a tumultuous time in British politics – the seismic shift from the consensus era to the election of Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1979, and the ushering in of neoliberal economics. This book begins by discussing the themes of 1970s British science fiction series – collectivism, teleology, technology, scientific progress – and goes on to show that they have been replaced in the Thatcher era by much darker tropes – individualism, Machiavellian behaviour, selfishness, personal wealth accumulation. The optimism of the 1970s series has been superseded by inertia, loss and futility. Characters have moved from hopeful, traditional and rational to duplicitous, ironic and cynical. The book undertakes an analysis of these series to determine if these changes can be read as a response to Britain’s changing political landscape.

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