The contrasting fortunes of Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh television drama in the 1990s
Broadcasting Minister Kim Howells has criticised TV producers in Wales for taking themselves too seriously, claiming it led to a lack of success at network level. The MP for Pontypridd, South Wales, said that Scottish programme makers had achieved more because they were willing to treat their nation and its people in a light-hearted way . . . In an interview for the Royal Television Society’s magazine Television, Dr Howells named the BBC Scotland drama series Monarch of the Glen as one of his favourites. (17 December 2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi
Myth of a multicultural England in BBC’s
Nicole M. Jackson
In his January 2016 speech to Parliament, actor Idris Elba asserted
that the ‘British Empire gave birth to the multicultural miracle that is
modern Britain’, while noting that the diversity of contemporary Britain
is absent from the popular media. Elba discussed the limited roles available to Black actors in the UK, asserting that since ‘I never saw myself
or my culture on TV, I stopped watching TV. I decided to just go out
and become TV.’ To gain roles ‘I had to transform the way [the] industry
3658 Paving the empire road:Layout 1
Voices of contention and BBC
You see, the white man is a very funny creature. He likes his change in scenery.
He likes his variety in life … Yet the English man, or the white man for that
matter, doesn’t want the variety of the human species. He likes to see white
Pastor Dunn in The Colony (BBC, 1964)
As suggested by Rich’s work in Race and Empire, the coming of World War
Two sparked a new move toward improved race relations, which coincided
with the gradual disintegration of
Conspiracy as a crisis of procedure
in Bird of Prey (BBC 1, 1982) and
Edge of Darkness (BBC 2, 1985)
At the turn of the 1980s an episode of The Sandbaggers, 2.5 ‘It
Couldn’t Happen Here’ (15 February 1980), centred on an unusual
topic for a British spy series, that of political assassination in the
USA. Following the killing of a prominent left-wing senator, the
Head of the CIA’s London Office Jeff Ross (Bob Sherman) is shown
expounding his theory to Neil Burnside that the FBI was responsible, not only for this but also for the assassination of progressive
Costumes and censorship:
the BBC’s Roman Empire
As we have seen in Part II, from the 1950s onwards cinema had come
under increasing pressure from television. Epics set in the ancient
world were seen as a tool to counter this trend, with their spectacular
sets, crowds and colours. Yet, by the mid-1960s, cine-antiquity had also
reached a crisis point. Excessive and costly productions like Cleopatra
(1963) and the dramatic failure of The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)
led to the temporary disappearance of the genre from the large screen.
The starting point for this chapter
is a comment by theatre director turned television producer Simon
Curtis, then in charge of BBC2’s Performance strand of
theatre play adaptations, in an interview with Jeremy Ridgman about the
origins and development of the series: ‘It is true that
naturalism works better in the [television] studio’, Curtis said.
‘And it is much easier
This essay examines the proliferation of visual representations of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), considering the question of what links contemporary (Scottish?) Gothic to its problematic origins. After a survey of cinematic and graphic adaptations, the essay focuses on Steven Moffatt‘s Jekyll (BBC, 2007), which combines the post-Darwinian anxieties surrounding Stevensons tale of human regression with a much more contemporary interrogation of the ‘human’ against the backdrop of complex globalised scientific conspiracies. Significantly, the production draws on the Scottish origin of the text, re-proposing the question of (national) identity and authenticity against the threat of globalisation.
This book provides an institutional case study of the BBC Television Service, as it undertook the responsibility of creating programmes that addressed the impact of black Britons, their attempts to establish citizenship within England and subsequent issues of race relations and colour prejudice. Beginning in the 1930s and into the post millennium, the book provides a historical analysis of policies invoked, and practices undertaken, as the Service attempted to assist white Britons in understanding the impact of African-Caribbeans on their lives, and their assimilation into constructs of Britishness. Management soon approved talks and scientific studies as a means of examining racial tensions, as ITV challenged the discourses of British broadcasting. Soon after, BBC 2 began broadcasting, and more issues of race appeared on the TV screens, each reflecting sometimes comedic, somewhat dystopic, often problematic circumstances of integration. In the years that followed, however, social tensions, such as those demonstrated by the Nottingham and Notting Hill riots, led to transmissions that included a series of news specials on Britain's Colour Bar, and docudramas, such as A Man From the Sun, which attempted to frame the immigrant experience for British television audiences, but from the African-Caribbean point of view. Subsequent chapters include an extensive analysis of television programming, along with personal interviews. Topics include current representations of race, the future of British television, and its impact upon multiethnic audiences. Also detailed are the efforts of Black Britons working within the British media as employees of the BBC, writers, producers and actors.
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.
In this edited collection, scholars use a variety of methodologies to explore the history of stage plays produced for British television between 1936 and the present. The volume opens with a substantial historical outline of the how plays originally written for the theatre were presented by BBC Television and the ITV companies as well as by independent producers and cultural organisations. Subsequent chapters analyse television adaptations of existing stage productions, including a 1937 presentation of a J. B. Priestley play by producer Basil Dean; work by companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stoke-on-Trent’s Victoria Theatre and the Radical Alliance of Poets and Players; the verbatim dramas from the Tricycle Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland; and Mike Leigh’s comedy Abigail’s Party, originally staged for Hampstead Theatre and translated to the Play for Today strand in 1977. Broadcast television’s original productions of classic and contemporary drama are also considered in depth, with studies of television productions of plays by Jacobean dramatists John Webster and Thomas Middleton, and by Henrik Ibsen and Samuel Beckett. In addition, the volume offers a consideration of the contribution to television drama of the influential producer Cedric Messina who, between 1967 and 1977, oversaw BBC Television’s Play of the Month strand before initiating The BBC Television Shakespeare (1978–85); the engagement with television adaptations by modern editors of Shakespeare’s plays; and Granada Television’s eccentric experiment in 1969–70 of running The Stables Theatre Company as a producer for both stage and screen. Collectively, these chapters open up new areas of research for all those engaged in theatre, media and adaptation studies.