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The case of Shoot the Messenger
Sarita Malik

This chapter discusses how stylistically, Shoot the Messenger's (STM) non-realist techniques, non-linear form and overt constructedness depart from the traditional modes of social realism that have prevailed in the Black British television drama. It begins with a broader contextualisation of the drama genre in its treatment of 'race' and reference as an earlier BBC single play Fable written by the White playwright, John Hopkins. The chapter proposes that the major responses to STM have neglected its more complicated nuances and the ways in which these can help us understand the processes of racialisation in post-colonial settings. It suggests that the STM's devices of unstable narration, irony and stylistic abstraction add to the difficulty of reading the text as a 'reflection' of reality. The chapter also suggests that STM can in fact be interpreted as a radical critique of social inequality and the destructive effects of living with ethnicised social categories.

in Adjusting the contrast
British television and constructs of race

Adjusting the contrast National and cultural identity, ethnicity and difference have always been major themes within the national psyche. People are witnessing the rise and visibility of far-right politics and counter-movements in the UK and USA. Simultaneously, there is an urgent need to defend the role of public service media. This book emerges at a time when these shifts and conjunctures that impact on and shape how 'race' and racial difference are perceived. They are coinciding with rapidly changing media contexts and environments and the kinds of racial representations that are constructed within public service broadcasting (PSB), specifically the BBC and Channel 4. The book explores a range of texts and practices that address the ongoing phenomenon of race and its relationship to television. Policies and the management of race; transnationalism and racial diversity; historical questions of representation; the myth of a multicultural England are also explored. It interrogates three television primarily created by women, written by women, feature women in most of the lead roles, and forcefully reassert the place of women in British history. The book contributes to the range of debates around television drama and black representation, examining BBC's Shoot the Messenger and Top Boy. Finally, it explores some of the history that led to the belated breakthrough of Black and Asian British comedy. The book also looks at the production of jokes about race and colour prior to the 1980s and 1990s, and questioning what these jokes tell us about British multiculturalism in this period.

Abstract only
Sarita Malik
Darrell M. Newton

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book presents transnational interpretations of how Black people have been represented on British television. It explores a range of contexts and practices that address the ongoing phenomenon of 'race' and its specific relationship with public service television. The book outlines how current studies of transnationalism highlight the importance of contemporary information societies and the global consortiums of transnational corporations. It examines how the 2005 reboot of the classic series utilises deracialised and decontextualised slavery allegories to absolve white guilt over the transatlantic slave trade. The book also examines the uses of race, immigration and multiculturalism as comic themes in British television sitcoms from the 1960s to the 1980s. It also explores the politics of 'tick-boxing' especially in regard to public service remits.

in Adjusting the contrast