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British television and constructs of race

Adjusting the contrast National and cultural identity, ethnicity and difference have always been major themes within the national psyche. People are witnessing the rise and visibility of far-right politics and counter-movements in the UK and USA. Simultaneously, there is an urgent need to defend the role of public service media. This book emerges at a time when these shifts and conjunctures that impact on and shape how 'race' and racial difference are perceived. They are coinciding with rapidly changing media contexts and environments and the kinds of racial representations that are constructed within public service broadcasting (PSB), specifically the BBC and Channel 4. The book explores a range of texts and practices that address the ongoing phenomenon of race and its relationship to television. Policies and the management of race; transnationalism and racial diversity; historical questions of representation; the myth of a multicultural England are also explored. It interrogates three television primarily created by women, written by women, feature women in most of the lead roles, and forcefully reassert the place of women in British history. The book contributes to the range of debates around television drama and black representation, examining BBC's Shoot the Messenger and Top Boy. Finally, it explores some of the history that led to the belated breakthrough of Black and Asian British comedy. The book also looks at the production of jokes about race and colour prior to the 1980s and 1990s, and questioning what these jokes tell us about British multiculturalism in this period.

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Jokes, racism and Black and Asian voices in British comedy television
Gavin Schaffer

political functions of comedy, to reopen the social history of Black British communities in post-war Britain through the story of sitcom. This chapter explores some of the history that led to the belated breakthrough of Black and Asian British comedy, looking at the production of jokes about race and colour prior to the 1980s and 1990s, and questioning what these jokes tell us about British multiculturalism in this period. It questions the ways in which jokes about Black and Asian minorities functioned in a period of overwhelming white control, and, specifically, looks at

in Adjusting the contrast
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Sarita Malik and Darrell M. Newton

the uses of race, immigration and multiculturalism as comic themes in British television sitcoms from the 1960s to the 1980s. Looking in depth at popular programmes such as Till Death Us Do Part (BBC, 1965–75), Love Thy Neighbour (Thames, 1972–76), It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (BBC, 1976–81) and Mind Your Language (LWT, 1977–86), Schaffer argues that the genre of the racial sitcom privileged white constructions of racial difference and stifled the development of Black and Asian British comedy. Nonetheless, in the face of ambivalent attitudes and racism, Schaffer suggests

in Adjusting the contrast