This book explores the history of the spy and conspiracy genres on British television, from 1960s Cold War series through 1980s conspiracy dramas to contemporary 'war on terror' thrillers. It analyses classic dramas including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Edge of Darkness, A Very British Coup and Spooks. The analysis is framed by the notion that the on-screen depiction of intelligence services in such programmes can be interpreted as providing metaphors for broadcasting institutions. Initially, the book is primarily focused on espionage-themed programmes produced by regional franchise-holders for ITV in late 1960s and 1970s. Subsequently, it considers spy series to explore how many standard generic conventions were innovated and popularised. The relatively economical productions such as Bird of Prey demonstrated a more sophisticated treatment of genre conventions, articulated through narratives showing the collapse of standard procedure. Channel 4 was Britain's third and final broadcaster to be enshrined with a public service remit. As the most iconic version of the television spy drama in the 1960s, the ITC adventure series, along with ABC's The Avengers, fully embraced the formulaic and Fordist tendencies of episodic series in the US network era. However, Callan, a more modestly resourced series aimed more towards a domestic audience, incorporated elements of deeper psychological drama, class tension and influence from the existential spy thrillers. The book is an invaluable resource for television scholars interested in a new perspective on the history of television drama and intelligence scholars seeking an analysis of the popular representation of espionage.
ﬁlmmaker’s extended family.
The present study also seeks to throw light on the role played
by particular broadcastinginstitutions or ﬁlm companies in the
production of these works and on the possible reasons for long
docs’ remarkable popularity with successive generations of viewers.
Whether viewers have accompanied the long doc in question
through all the phases of its development, whether they have joined
it at some intermediate stage along the way or whether, indeed,
they have begun to engage with it as a completed artefact with
its own life history, long docs
Towards an ending
Among the questions I will be addressing in this chapter are the
following: In what ways, given long docs’ generically inbuilt resistance to closure, do ﬁlmmakers begin to contemplate the prospect of
terminating these works? What role does the sponsoring agency or
broadcastinginstitution play in deciding how and when a long doc
should be terminated? In what ways are viewers actively prepared
for being separated, once and for all, from subjects with whom they
may have developed especially close relationships over the years?
comparative media histories that are just beginning to be written (Bignell and Fickers 2008).
The persistence of Beckett’s work on television is linked with the establishment of a cultural and class elite in broadcastinginstitutions which took Beckett as a totemic figure legitimating their aspirations to take their audience seriously, to raise public taste and to offer what they perceived to be the best in the arts and culture. Television is regarded as the most accessible and central of the broadcasting media, yet despite this, and also because
(Romanian Radiotelevision). It was placed under the supervision of
the Radio and Television Committee of the Council of Ministers,
which served as an intermediary body between the broadcastinginstitution and the state. In 1956, Romanian television started out in the
same way as any other broadcastinginstitution in Europe: transferring
programmes and personnel from radio to television. Its early period
was characterised by relatively liberal programming featuring national
as well as foreign content – from factual programmes to entertainment, including
British television drama, alongside its cousin the conspiracy genre which also
often focuses upon the world of intelligence but typically from an
external and more critical perspective. The analysis is framed by
the notion that the on-screen depiction of intelligence services in
such programmes can be interpreted, to varying extents, as providing metaphors for the broadcastinginstitutions that create them.
As such, it provides parallel and intersecting case studies through
which it is possible to trace the changing roles of such large public
institutions in British
journalistic reviews and other sources assist in this process. By addressing each stage in the making of television drama, from production and broadcast through to reception by the first and subsequent audiences, and the critical evaluation of television plays by professional reviewers and academics, the book is able to evaluate the significance of, for example, public service commitments and audience research, since for the BBC a concern for positive audience response was played off against the broadcastinginstitution’s sense of responsibility to disseminate the work of a
institutions supported their deception as factual programmes, a fact
disturbing for a significant proportion of their audiences. These
texts’ reflexive potential, then, derives from the success of their
fakery, and in particular from the context created for their reception,
including the extra-textual cues deliberately created by filmmakers and
Degree 3: deconstruction
In television and film it is very common for institutional constraints and working practices to remove control over production decisions from the author and for directorial decisions to be influenced by the demands of the broadcastinginstitution and, in particular, its perception of the desires and competencies of the audience. But on the other hand, the cultural authority of the mass media of radio and then television as cultural forms were bolstered by employing established literary figures as
The politics of ‘Crazyspace’, children’s television and the case of The Demon Headmaster
Máire Messenger Davies
quality of children’s television often comes from broadcastinginstitutions with their own axes to grind. In his introduction to Small Screens ( 2002 ), Buckingham contrasts the different constructions of children’s television produced by the BBC in its 1998 promotional film, Future Generations, and the satirical spoof on this film produced by the commercial channel, Nickelodeon, also self-promotingly. On the one hand, the BBC, attempting to promote the licence fee as the primary source of ‘quality’ children’s television, used a child in a 1950s prep-school uniform