Search results

From Reeves and Mortimer to Psychoville
Author: Leon Hunt

The TV debut of Vic Reeves Big Night Out on Channel 4 in 1990 is often seen as marking a turning point for British TV Comedy, ushering in what is often characterised as the ‘post-alternative’ era. The 1990s would produce acclaimed series such as Father Ted, The League of Gentlemen and The Fast Show, while the new century would produce such notable shows as The Mighty Boosh, The Office and Psychoville. However, while these shows enjoy the status of ‘cult classics’, comparatively few of them have received scholarly attention. This book is the first sustained critical analysis of the ‘post-alternative’ era, from 1990 to the present day. It examines post-alternative comedy as a form of both ‘Cult’ and ‘Quality’ TV, programmes that mostly target niche audiences and possess a subcultural aura – in the early 90s, comedy was famously declared ‘the new rock’n’roll’. It places these developments within a variety of cultural and institutional contexts and examines a range of comic forms, from sitcom to sketch shows and ‘mock TV’ formats. It includes case studies of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and the sitcom writer Graham LInehan. It examines developments in sketch shows and the emergence of ‘dark’ and ‘cringe’ comedy, and considers the politics of ‘offence’ during a period in which Brass Eye, ‘Sachsgate’ and Frankie Boyle provoked different kinds of media outrage. Cult British TV Comedy will be of interest to both students and fans of modern TV comedy.

Editor: Laura Mulvey
Author: Jamie Sexton

This book addresses the aesthetics of British television programmes, charting some key examples of experiment and formal or stylistic innovation, drawing mostly on arts documentaries and drama productions. It turns to the work of the little known Langham Group. In contrast to the populism of Armchair Theatre, the group emerged from a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) initiative to consider 'the problem of experimental television programmes'. The book discusses very varied examples of experimental television that flourished during the 1960s. It also introduces Channel 4 with an insider's account of a world of utopian hopes and the snares of the schedule. The book then looks at two series that attempted to experiment with the presentation of art to British television viewers: New Tempo and Who Is?. It explores the relationship between the series and Troy Kennedy Martin's 'Nats Go Home' manifesto, a polemic against naturalism in television drama which provided a theoretical rationale for the experimentalism of Diary of a Young Man. The book further examines the product of that experiment, placing it in the context of John McGrath's other work and his own 1979 'manifesto' for progressive television. It argues that Dennis Potter's drama, and particularly The Singing Detective, contributes to experimental television through systematic comment on, and elaboration of, the medium's inherent polysemic nature. Finally, the book focuses on the presentation of pop music on television, specifically the pop promo, rather than the dedicated music television programme.

Television, formalism and the arts documentary in 1960s Britain
Jamie Sexton

3049 Experimental British Tele 16/5/07 08:02 Page 89 5 From art to avant-garde? Television, formalism and the arts documentary in 1960s Britain Jamie Sexton Arts programming has been a mainstay of British television since its early days, a tradition tied up with the public service ethic contractually enshrined in both public and commercial services. This chapter looks at two series that attempted to experiment with the presentation of art to British television viewers: New Tempo (ABC, 1967) and Who Is? (BBC2, 1968). These programmes played with, and

in Experimental British television
Experimentation and Armchair Theatre
Helen Wheatley

3049 Experimental British Tele 16/5/07 08:02 Page 31 2 ‘And now for your Sunday night experimental drama . . .’: experimentation and Armchair Theatre Helen Wheatley There was something different about ABC’s Armchair Theatre. . . There was an excitement . . . a bravery, an experimentation, a daring about it.1 Made in a transitional moment in the history of British television drama, Armchair Theatre (ABC, 1956–68; Thames, 1968–74)2 can be seen as an example of an anthology series which pushed the boundaries of television drama production, bringing together an

in Experimental British television
John McGrath’s The Adventures of Frank
Lez Cooke

McGrath’s The Adventures of Frank 107 produced in the 1970s and early 1980s. While McGrath later admitted that The Adventures of Frank was ‘a bold attempt that didn’t come off ’,5 the production is a rare example in British television of a drama that attempts to combine Brechtian ideas with experimental television techniques in order to explore socio-political developments in Britain at the beginning of the 1980s. For this reason The Adventures of Frank is worthy of examination, especially in relation to Diary of a Young Man and the television version of McGrath

in Experimental British television
Chris Morris and comedy’s representational strategies
Brett Mills

soon you too will be freezer-drawered. Then welcome. Mmm . . . uu [sic] chemotherapy wig. Welcome. In jam. (Distorted) Jam. (Pitch lowered) Jam. (Piercingly distorted) Jam. (Extremely distorted) Jam. (Very slow, mechanised) Jaaaaam. This is the opening voice-over for the first episode of Jam (Channel 4, 2000), the most blatant of Chris Morris’s assaults on the representational strategies traditionally employed by British television comedy. It violates a number of conventions which have been accepted about television comedy for some time, not least in its insistence

in Experimental British television
K. J. Donnelly

migratory malleability has led to the development of specialist channels (MTV being the first), appearance on VHS and DVD compilations, as well as increasingly important ‘content’ on the internet and mobile technologies. In this sense, the pop promo is a particularly important component within a digitised media environment. Yet, if this chapter is not necessarily about music television, many of the videos it discusses appeared on a range of music television programmes on British television: from the 3049 Experimental British Tele 16/5/07 08:02 Page 167 Experimental

in Experimental British television
UK artists’ film on television
A. L. Rees

3049 Experimental British Tele 16/5/07 08:02 Page 146 9 Experimenting on air: UK artists’ film on television A. L. Rees With the birth of Channel 4, artists’ film and video began to appear more frequently on British television than ever before. From the early 80s and through into the next decade, complex films such as Videovoid (David Larcher, 1991, tx.1992 C4) and Chronos Fragmented (Malcolm Le Grice, tx.1995 C4) were shown – and paid for – by major channels. Shorter work, from the UK and internationally, was first bought in and then newly commissioned by

in Experimental British television
Abstract only
A Channel 4 experiment 1982–85
John Ellis

Tony Rayns An interview with Paul Schrader on the release of Cat People Angela Carter reviews Peter Greenaway’s Draughtsman’s Contract (15minute review with extensive clips) 24 NOVEMBER 1982 Ivor Montagu interviewed by Stuart Hood on his work with Hitchcock, Eisenstein and communist film politics British Exhibition Today: a survey of different forms of cinema activity presented by Susan Barrowclough 3049 Experimental British Tele 138 • • • 16/5/07 08:02 Page 138 Experimental British television 8 DECEMBER 1982 Festival des Trois Continents: a report from the

in Experimental British television
Black representation and Top Boy
Kehinde Andrews

5 The iconic ghetto on British television: Black representation and Top Boy Kehinde Andrews Top Boy is an eight-part British drama, which ran over two series in 2011 and 2013. The show follows the rise of Dushane up the ranks of drug dealers on the fictional Summerhouse estate in London. Alongside his story is an ensemble cast of characters and narratives that explore life on the estate. The focus on drugs and gangs in the inner city led to the show inevitably being dubbed the ‘British answer to the Wire’.1 Like the Wire, the show was written by a white writer

in Adjusting the contrast