the otherwise bold
extravagance of its language, why can it not name its topic
Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the
Rights of Men (1790), for example, while a political tract
that critiques Edmund Burke’s condemnation of the revolution
across the Channel, also identifies a deathliness in its
that dominant conceptions of the social meanings of Butterflies (BBC 1978–83) (Hallam) and Dad’s Army (BBC 1968–77) (Nelson) are challenged and renegotiated. Linking audience response to ideological or textual criticism and a nuanced account of modes of acting and performance, the analysis contained in both essays is complex and politically aware. For Hallam, Butterflies, for all the narrowness of the comfortable, affluent and middle-class social world it portrays, nevertheless engaged its (largely female) viewers with real-life dilemmas and was appreciated for
upon political stance, possibly not be comedic at all.
In this alternative light, the specific discursive position of Dad’s Army becomes even clearer. It is the undoubted base of patriotism on which Dad’s Army is founded that, besides licensing the laughter at the bumbling incompetence of the Home Guard as noted, aligns the series with a liberal-conservative tradition which has frequently been identified with ‘Englishness’ (see, for example, Richards 1977 ). In the two possibilities noted at the outset for a fundamental change to Old England as a result of the
grew in the writing, finally emerging as an attempt of sorts to explore situation comedy’s political unconscious.
Taking sitcom seriously
By comparison with other forms of popular television drama, and notwithstanding its eternal popularity with programmers and audiences, sitcom remains notably underdiscussed. It may no longer be true that, as Mick Eaton asserted, ‘there has been virtually nothing written about television situation comedy as a specifically televisual form’ (1981: 26); none-the-less, a great deal of writing about sitcom still seems slightly
Cycles of death and transcendence in Byron’s Gothic
result of the
ancestral past’s refusal to die. The two Foscari are
decimated by the present impact of two prior political deaths:
Jacopo Foscari’s fiercest persecutor is Loredano, a member of
the Council of Ten who believes that Francesco Foscari was
responsible for the deaths of his father and uncle, whose spectres
‘stalk’ him (IV.i. line 332). An exchange between
World narratives harnessed for
philosophical and political reasons, as emphasised by the
allegorical, utopian, or dystopian cultures featured within them.
Crucially, it is not the utopian visions that appear to have survived
in the popular imagination, but rather those that invoke a Gothic
dystopian setting. Within the fictional Lost World, where the
era’s hubristic anxieties
their situation. A few women had heard of The Feminine Mystique, and one remembered seeing Germaine Greer on a chat show; another woman had read Fay Weldon’s The Fat Woman’s Joke, but overall there was little familiarity with recognisable sources of early second-wave feminist ideas and attitudes. Several people commented that political correctness was boring in entertainment and that Butterflies was a comedy and should not be taken too seriously.
These memories challenge textual critiques of the day that claim that all British sitcoms in the late 1970s and
The contrasting fortunes of Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh television drama in the 1990s
For a series that stuck around for so long in a decade that saw so much attention to an Irish agenda in British politics, Ballykissangel has received remarkably little serious critical attention. What exists has tended to consider the series, not unreasonably, in relation to the ‘heritage’ tradition that has received so much attention within film studies. In the context of work such as Ronan Bennett’s Love Lies Bleeding (BBC 1993) and lesser examples from three decades of ‘troubles’ drama, the view of Ireland and the Irish presented by
Clocking Off, three brothers, two of whom work in the factory while the third is a union official there. Bull Week differed from Clocking Off in that it had a plot which developed over its six episodes, set on the six days of ‘bull week’, the week before the factory’s two-week holiday when all of the employees ‘work like bulls’ to earn some extra money. Its storyline is more ‘political’ than those of Clocking Off but its factory setting, with scenes also in ‘the pub, the street and the home’, clearly identifies it as a drama of social realism.
A comparison of
offshoot, beginning with Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924) and continuing through dystopian science fiction to The Matrix (1999) and its sequels, the positivised individual protagonist and his female sidekick tackle the negativised collectivity of the centralised state (or, latterly, the global electronic-capital-information order) with some blend of political and erotic subversion – except in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and The Prisoner where sex is part of the negativised collectivity. As with many of these fictions, The Prisoner is rather unconvincing