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.
Friendship and treason in Robin Chapman’s One of Us and Blunt: The Fourth Man
impersonal bonds that are formed between men of a shared political convictions, such as Communists ideals of comradeship.
Although Marx did not use the term, “comrade,” and the concept of “friendship” did not figure widely in his philosophical or economical writings, he did write extensively about the alienation of labour and, of course, the class divisions forged by feudalism and economic disparities created by capitalism. One of Marx's most notable statements about class unity, however, which approximates notions of
kitchen] … an experience like that … we’ll
never be quite the same as we were, I don’t suppose. We’re closer
now, I think [we see Mrs Lund and Mrs Stringer, glaring at each other] …
more mutual respect, comradeship, more tolerant … [we see teenager
Gary Heseltine (Keith Chegwin) staring at Annabel Shankly, his ardour
returned now that she has her make-up and hairpiece back on] … more
willing to listen … that’s what pulls us through in the end.
This monologue concludes the play’s comic process of revealing
small-scale personal dramas within the public discourse of
Hillsborough, Sunday, Dockers, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
retrospect a searingly
honest self-indictment. Early in the dispute, seeing his wife transform
into a valued and important activist, Tommy blurts out to her, ‘You’re
like some hairy-arsed lesbian laying down the law’. To both their credits,
though, this is just a transition moment, and by the end there is a sense
of comradeship and pride between them at what they have both tried to
achieve and the principles to which they have remained faithful.
If such an account is inclined to make Dockers seem an impossibly
worthy and romantic account of working-class struggle, McGovern
, political comradeship, or,
surprisingly enough, parents and children’ (1979: 51). In this way, the textual
and extratextual discourses around the star couple naturalise certain patterns
of behaviour as important and appropriate, while negotiating, masking or
excluding values that may contradict or threaten current social norms. The
material realities of institutionalised social inequality are displaced on to the
personal realm, where the ephemeral power of ‘love’ magically enables individual equality without the need for systemic change.
Most importantly, as Robin Wood
has been characterised as
a complacent cinema, then the cracks in that complacency are discernible
some time before the appearance of the New Wave, with its new priorities,
its new order of things, its new social configurations. The old class
hierarchies are breaking down along with the remembered comradeship of the war.
‘Gentleman’s agreement, old boy?’ says Roland
Culver’s peacetime Major (a superb performance) to Richard
encounters middle-class superiority, but the mood changes abruptly with
Spike’s fall. Then comradeship (or perhaps a middle-class instinct to
do the right thing) takes precedence. When the two boys meet later in
hospital, their friendship is secure.
The Magnet was a favourite of T. E. B. Clarke, who
recalled that it won an award in Belgium. 14 Subsequently, the scant critical attention bestowed on
Jennings the propaganda master’.37 In addressing the critical oversight it
can be stressed that Jennings’ mastery as a propagandist stemmed from
his ability to evoke a unified nation as the outcome of its differences. For
Jennings, social consensus, arrived at and actualised through diversity, is
expressed in an image of the nation – which is ‘imagined as a commu
nity, a deep horizontal comradeship’, in Benedict Anderson’s phrase.38
Jennings capably constructed both difference and commonality as
valuable components of national identity. In doing so, he subtly inflected
daily acted on as a matter of course by a large number of British – I won’t say English – people living together. Not merely honesty, culture, manners, practical socialism but real life: with passion and tenderness and comradeship and heartiness combined. […] We are photographing them as honestly as possible – neither like How Green – too theatrical, or The Grapes of Wrath – too poverty-stricken. 67
His letters would not look out of place as ‘images’ in Pandaemonium itself. In view of his lifelong preoccupations, Cwmgiedd emerges as a
with the last, the encounter with the American destroyer revives these
qualities, the American captain offering a salute which he returns, and
helping him to bring a fatally injured shipmate off the submarine
before it sinks. The captains’ kinship on the quarterdeck of a rescue
ship produces another anomaly in comparison with previous examples:
the loss of both ships appears beneficial rather than traumatic, in
facilitating the recognition and comradeship between adversaries.
Once the war was over, the war film tended to slide in social significance