The Langham Group and the search for a new television drama
3049 Experimental British Tele
‘Creative in its own right’: the Langham
Group and the search for a new television
The Langham Group, an experimental outfit established within the BBC in
1959, occupies an unusual position in the history of British television
drama. While most accounts of the development of TV drama in Britain pay
lip-service to the group’s efforts, these have mainly been written off as
unsuccessful. Such a view appears to have settled into a critical orthodoxy in
the early 1960s and has prevailed ever
This is a book-length study of one of the most respected and prolific producers working in British television. From ground-breaking dramas from the 1960s such as Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home to the ‘must-see’ series in the 1990s and 2000s such as This Life and The Cops, Tony Garnett has produced some of the most important and influential British television drama. This book charts his career from his early days as an actor to his position as executive producer and head of World Productions, focusing on the ways in which he has helped to define the role of the creative producer, shaping the distinctive politics and aesthetics of the drama he has produced, and enabling and facilitating the contributions of others. Garnett's distinctive contribution to the development of a social realist aesthetic is also examined, through the documentary-inspired early single plays to the subversion of genre within popular drama series.
This book aims to provoke increased interest in the work of the four directors:
Dominique Cabrera, Noémie Lvovsky, Laetitia Masson and Marion Vernoux, although
some of their early works have become more difficult to access, most of their
films remain commercially available through French distributors. The four
directors are not new arrivals and began making films in the early 1990s, yet
they have received scant critical attention in both popular and academic film
criticism. They share similar profiles in terms of box office success, number of
films made and generational affinities and, shorts and feature films in France.
They make films that straddle boundaries of categorisation and therefore escape
the quickly established and self-perpetuating groupings that serve as powerful
frameworks for popular access via DVD distribution, critical canonisation and
academic curricula. Whilst Cabrera attests her sanguine awareness of the
discriminatory treatment of women in all areas of the film industry she rejects
the suggestion that the process of her filmmaking is determined by sexual
difference or a gendered creative identity, asserting provocatively. The book
discusses Masson's use of romance and detective narratives to debunk the
former and subvert the later. The career path of Lvovsky remains distinctive
from that of other directors. Vernoux's oeuvre maintains a coherent focus
on the modes of transgression present within the generic conventions of comedy
and romance in films which exploit the common narrative device of the encounter
to propel narratives and characters across social boundaries within a dominant
generic focus on romantic comedy.
This book explores the interactions of comedy and drama within a group of significant and influential films released during the decade of the 1990s. It examines a group of British films from this period which engage with economic and social issues in unusual and compelling ways. Brassed Off and The Full Monty are two films invoking very different cultural traditions as possible activities for unemployed males and troubled communities in modern British society. The book then discusses a number of contemporary British films focusing upon the experiences of British-Asian and African-Caribbean characters and their efforts to feel 'at home' in Western and British society. It features an extensive analysis of East is East, a comedy-drama about the cultural and ideological tensions surfacing between members of a British-Asian family living in Salford, circa 1971. Next, the book includes case studies of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually. It investigates the ways in which humour is deployed for dramatic and emotional effect in the context of scenarios dealing with such seemingly non-comic subjects as mass unemployment, failed or uneasy relationships, bitter family disputes, or instances of racial tension and conflict in British society. The book demonstrates that the interaction of comic and dramatic modes of narration within the films discussed proved to be a dynamic creative mechanism in 1990s British cinema, facilitating and enabling the construction of innovative and genuinely exploratory narratives about characters who are striving to realise particular aspirations and hopes within a complex culture.
Writers in British society and tales of their private lives and personal affairs
and sexual relationships in British social history which the film biographies explore and engage with in wide-ranging, dramatically stimulating and provocative ways. Sylvia Plath’s complex story might seem as if it cannot be easily accommodated into a feature-length narrative, but I will seek to illustrate that Christine Jeff and John Brownlow’s film Sylvia is a thoughtful and compelling account of two creative writers (Plath and the future Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes), torn apart by Hughes’s infidelity and the passionate feelings of both love and resentment which
player, a journeyman at the creative end of British cinema, almost as if helping to craft a few Ealing comedies, perhaps most notably Hue and Cry and The Lavender Hill Mob , on the one hand and, more than thirty years later, keeping an Anglo-American cast on track in A Fish Called Wanda , a sort of Ealing-style reboot, on the other, somehow comprised the sum total of his cinematic contribution. So perhaps the problem, as some might still see it, is that Crichton was less an artist, rather more just an effective, collaborative, craftsman without a describable style
This is the first book-length study of one of the most significant of all British television writers, Jimmy McGovern. The book provides comprehensive coverage of all his work for television including early writing on Brookside, major documentary dramas such as Hillsborough and Sunday and more recent series such as The Street and Accused. Whilst the book is firmly focused on McGovern’s own work, the range of his output over the period in which he has been working also provides something of an overview of the radical changes in television drama commissioning that have taken place during this time. Without compromising his deeply-held convictions McGovern has managed to adapt to an ever changing environment, often using his position as a sought-after writer to defy industry trends. The book also challenges the notion of McGovern as an uncomplicated social realist in stylistic terms. Looking particularly at his later work, a case is made for McGovern employing a greater range of narrative approaches, albeit subtly and within boundaries that allow him to continue to write for large popular audiences. Finally it is worth pointing to the book’s examination of McGovern’s role in recent years as a mentor to new voices, frequently acting as a creative producer on series that he part-writes and part brings through different less-experienced names.
State of play: the TV drama industry –
new rules of the game
Production conditions for distinctive product
Those readers primarily interested in the TV dramas themselves might think the
industry background to be less compelling. But, properly to understand why we
get a particular kind of TV drama to appear on our screens at any given time is
not just a matter of creative people coming up with fresh ideas. Moreover, the
dramas behind the scenes are just as intricate and fascinating as those on the screen.
First, here, I look back at circumstances in the past
Michael Checkland, Birt became Director-General in 1993. Birt’s
reforms were aimed at producing efficiency and reducing waste, but
they also led to an increase in bureaucracy and management and the
results were felt far beyond the balance sheet. In 1996, the BBC split its
production from its broadcasting arms – essentially separating the
commissioning of programmes from the making of them. Known as
‘producer choice’, the system disenfranchised many of the people who
had previously been at the centre of creative decision making, such as
Leonora Carrington’s cinematic adventures in Mexico
’s creative imagination through an entirely new medium. Despite Weisz Carrington’s recollection of the film shoot, outlined below, which clearly posits the experience as a form of game, the film nevertheless functions as an archive for their artistic contributions. Crafted and collected by their hands, still lifes, costumes, furniture, and locally sourced objects are suspended within the château-asylum’s strange world, which, with its endless chambers and cells, echoes the ‘cellular’ composition of many of her paintings.
A work of black humour, threaded through with an