3885 Cult British TV Comedy:Layout 1 14/12/12 07:52 Page 36 2 Britain’s top light entertainer and singer: Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and the cultification of light entertainment We want to be treated as mainstream comics doing bog standard entertainment. (Bob Mortimer, quoted by Viner 1995: 5) Personally I think of it as family fun. It should be liked by everyone, from the very young to the very old. (Harry Hill on his Channel 4 series, quoted by Williams 1997: 29) Whatever constitutes ‘post-alternative comedy’ is widely taken to begin with Vic Reeves and
and artists painted pictures’ and that films ‘could be personal creative statements […] by Bergman, by Fellini’. 11 Secondly, art films tend to be structured around psychological problems and intellectual themes, or what Neale called ‘the interiorisation of dramatic conflict’, 12 as opposed to classical Hollywood’s preference for following the actions of goal-orientated characters. The third related characteristic is art cinema’s approach to narrative. As Peter Greenaway, one of the doyens of contemporary British and European art cinema, provocatively put it
The British New Wave 1 The British New Wave: a certain tendency? The terrible thing about the cinema is the way it uses up everything. It exhausts ideas, stories, brands of stories, and suddenly finds itself faced with a kind of gulf, a ditch across which it must leap to capture some new and absolutely unforeseen territory. We’re not talking, obviously, about eternal masterpieces: clearly Shakespeare always had something to say, and he didn’t have to jump any ditch. But it’s a situation ordinary film production is likely to run into every five years or so. In
Critical enthusiasm for realism in British cinema, from Grierson to Ken Loach, has obscured the fact that the majority of British films pay little regard to a realist ethos. Melodramas and crime films have traditionally made up a significant and substantial part of British cinema and a section of these films can be related to film noir. As film noir is a critical category constructed to deal with a
Because of the powerful and well-established tradition of crime films in British cinema, the vast majority of British neo-noirs are variations of the crime thriller, differentiated from more conventional films by their highly wrought visual style, an emphasis on moral ambiguity and psychological complexity, and an often deliberate blurring of the boundaries between reality and fantasy, subjectivity
British Films of the 1970s offers fresh critical insights into a diverse range of films including Carry On Girls, O Lucky Man!, Radio On, Winstanley, Cromwell, Akenfield, Requiem for a Village, That’ll Be the Day, Pressure, The Shout, The Long Good Fridayand The Offence. The book sets out to obtain a clearer understanding of two things – the fragmentary state of the filmmaking culture of the period, and the fragmentary nature of the nation that these films represent.
This book shows us that British films of the period – often hybridised in terms of genre - mediate an increasingly diverse and contested culture. It argues that there is no singular narrative to be drawn about British cinema of the 1970s, other than the fact that films of the period offer evidence of a Britain (and ideas of Britishness) characterised by vicissitudes. But the book demonstrates that while the 1970s in British filmmaking (but also in British culture and society) was a period of struggle and instability, it was also a period of openings, of experiment, of new ideas, and, as such, of profound change.
The book will be of interest to scholars working on British film history but also British socio-cultural history and geography. It will appeal to academics, postgraduate and undergraduate students. But it has also been written in a style that will make it accessible to the general reader.
6 Not British, Scottish?: The Last King of Scotland and post-imperial Scottish cinema Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker): You are British? James Garrigan (James McAvoy): Well, I’m Scottish . . . Scottish . . . Idi Amin: Scottish? Why didn’t you say so? (Dialogue exchange from The Last King of Scotland) With a number of major awards to its name – including an Oscar and a Golden Globe – and an international box office return second only to Trainspotting, The Last King of Scotland is one of the most high-profile films that Scotland has seen. Despite this, it has only
The British broadcasting service was set up in 1922 with a monopoly and finance from a licence fee following negotiations between the Post Office, which controlled the air waves, and the radio industry, which manufactured the equipment. The Post Office was anxious to avoid what it saw as the chaos of unregulated broadcasting in the United States and was concerned with the function of broadcasting as a public utility. But it had no philosophy
4 Wartime British cinema Asquith, with a now established reputation as one of Britain’s leading film-makers, was ideally placed to play a key role in the specific demands placed upon the British cinema in the wartime period. Yet, neither Pygmalion nor French Without Tears, the films which had helped to consolidate his standing, prefigured the active engagement with wartime subject matter which Asquith was to demonstrate during the period of conflict. Indeed, most of his wartime films – six out of the eight features – have wartime subject matter and can be seen
4 Imagining post-industrial Britain The Heart of It, the miners’ strike plays, Looking at the Sun, Shooting Stars, Born Kicking, Elvis Over England As becomes clear over the course of this chapter, the exceptionally divisive events of the miners’ strike of 1984–85 had an acute effect on Hines’s writing, just as they did on the terrain and communities of the South Yorkshire that he invariably depicts. The events proved so resistant to Hines’s efforts to represent them that none of the three plays he wrote in the wake of the strike was ever produced. His radio