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Jonathan Bignell

Introduction Beckett’s plays for British television were not screened in drama anthology series on the mass audience channels BBC1 or ITV, but in arts programming slots on BBC2, and this militated against considering them in relation to work by an emerging canon of television writers. So while Beckett’s television plays lend themselves to being considered in the dominant critical discourses around authored drama, the fact that they were not screened in drama anthology slots separates them from the canon being

in Beckett on screen
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The Anne Lister Diaries, 1833–36 - Land, gender and authority

"Female Fortune is the book which inspired Sally Wainwright to write Gentleman Jack, now a major drama series for the BBC and HBO.

Lesbian landowner Anne Lister inherited Shibden Hall in 1826. She was an impressive scholar, fearless traveller and successful businesswoman, even developing her own coalmines. Her extraordinary diaries, running to 4–5 million words, were partly written in her own secret code and recorded her love affairs with startling candour. The diaries were included on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2011.

Jill Liddington’s classic edition of the diaries tells the story of how Anne Lister wooed and seduced neighbouring heiress Ann Walker, who moved in to live with Anne and her family in 1834. Politically active, Anne Lister door-stepped her tenants at the 1835 Election to vote Tory. And socially very ambitious, she employed architects to redesign both the Hall and the estate.

Yet Ann Walker had an inconvenient number of local relatives, suspicious of exactly how Anne Lister could pay for all her grand improvements. Tensions grew to a melodramatic crescendo when news reached Shibden of the pair being burnt in effigy.

This 2022 edition includes a fascinating Afterword on the recent discovery of Ann Walker’s own diary. Female Fortune is essential reading for those who watched Gentleman Jack and want to know more about the extraordinary woman that was Anne Lister.

An aesthetic controversy during the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the radiophonic poem Private Dreams and Public Nightmares
Tatiana Eichenberger

Tatiana Eichenberger Introduction: ‘Noises on the Air’ or even ‘Horror on the Third’ 1 ‘You may detest this programme, but I hope you won’t dismiss it. Certainly nothing quite like it has come out of your loudspeaker before; every single sound in it has been specially manufactured for the occasion’ (McWhinnie, 1957a : 27). With these thoughtful words in the Radio Times issue from Friday, 4 October 1957, BBC producer Donald McWhinnie introduced the upcoming first broadcast of his new experimental production, the radiophonic poem Private Dreams and

in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
Caryl Churchill’s Identical Twins as neo-avant-garde (radio) drama
Pim Verhulst

least because it aptly and acutely topicalises the institutional tensions that both Bürger and Foster highlight. In this respect, and particularly in the British postwar context, the creation of the BBC Third Programme – later Radio 3 – as an institutional platform sympathetic to more ‘highbrow’ and ‘experimental’ productions is a significant factor. 1 What binds playwrights such as Churchill to Beckett, Pinter and Stoppard, who were together largely responsible for the revolutions that shook up the theatrical landscape of postwar Britain, is that they came to it

in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
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The television plays

This study analyses Samuel Beckett's television plays in relation to the history and theory of television, arguing that they are in dialogue with innovative television traditions connected to Modernism in television, film, radio, theatre, literature and the visual arts. Using original research from BBC archives and manuscript sources, it provides new perspectives on the relationships between Beckett's television dramas and the wider television culture of Britain and Europe. The book also compares and contrasts the plays for television with Beckett's Film and broadcasts of his theatre work including the Beckett on Film season. Chapters deal with the production process of the plays, the broadcasting contexts in which they were screened, institutions and authorship, the plays' relationships with comparable programmes and films, and reaction to Beckett's screen work by audiences and critics.

Paula Meehan

In this chapter, the author remembers the Galway of 1979, when she, a poet-in-making, was a chosen participant at the National Writers' Workshop, conducted by John McGahern. McGahern had lined up a number of distinguished visitors to the workshop. The author recalls McGahern's strong voice, his views on the practice of writing and the accompanying isolation, his sound advice, his fondness of apparently random connections and synchronicities. Finally, in a short, 'parting' piece, Melvyn Bragg brings us back to 1966, when he sought McGahern out for a BBC television interview. A friendship was formed and Bragg leaves us with vivid pictures of days and nights in London and Dublin of the 1960s, of McGahern the great conversationalist in the London pubs, the knowledgeable guide in the labyrinth of Dublin streets, a vigorous McGahern, fierce yet generous, greatly talented yet appreciative and encouraging.

in John McGahern
Jonathan Bignell

writers, directors or producers, making programmes featuring interviews with and features on literary figures, or presenting adaptations of their work. As Ros Coward summarises in relation to radio in Britain, ‘The history of BBC radio is marked not only by an extreme reverence to the great authors of the literary establishment, but also by “episodes” where significant literary figures were courted by the new mass medium’ (Coward, 1987: 81–2). This chapter discusses the strategies used by the BBC to secure good relationships with Beckett so that programmes could be made

in Beckett on screen
‘No interest. Not suitable for treatment’
Lance Pettitt

for radio, film and television drama. Veteran producer Irene Shubik’s analysis of the evolution of television drama includes the first significant evaluation of Trevor’s work beyond the press reviews.5 Despite being titled ‘The World of the Novelist’, her chapter on his work at the BBC is valuable for its insights into the technical and production matters of television in a state of transition. This period between 1965 and 1973 was crucial to Trevor not only because it saw his reputation established as a writer of fiction, but also because he learnt the discipline

in William Trevor
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Jonathan Bignell

about audiences for drama and arts programming affected the presentation and scheduling of the plays. The chapter also presents archival research on data collected by BBC Audience Research, which reveals how the plays were received by actual viewers, and thus the chapter complements existing studies of audience response to television which have focused on popular television drama and its viewers in both theoretical and empirical terms. Broadcasting and conceptions of audience In the context of a tradition of critical

in Beckett on screen
Anna Sigg

’ (2004: 336). Throughout the play, he is tortured by a roaring, internal sea-like sound, a form of ‘tinnitus’ – a ringing in the ears – which reminds him of his dead father and his own mortality. He describes his memories as ‘some old grave [he] cannot tear [him] self away from’ (Beckett, 2006a: 203). Henry re-enacts the stories of his past, but is unable to finish them with the use of words. However, they can be completed by listening to the internal sea sound – his ringing in the ears – which, in the BBC production, can be heard during the pauses. The connection

in Samuel Beckett and trauma