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From studio realism to location realism in BBC television drama

Until recently, little work had been conducted on television acting per se, let alone the various coalescing factors that underpin and help shape it. This book addresses that lack, utilising a selection of science fiction case studies from the world of BBC television drama to investigate how small screen performance has altered since the days of live production. This then-and-now comparison of performing for British television drama focuses on science fiction case studies to provide a multi-perspectival examination of the historical development of acting in UK television drama. By the mid-1970s, studio realism might be expected to have reached its apotheosis, yet it was by no means all-encompassing as a style of television acting. A new approach was therefore required, with much of the performance preparation now taking place on location rather than being perfected beforehand in a separate rehearsal space: the seeds of location realism. One of the most notable contrasts between early television drama and the modern day is the shift from multi-camera studio to single camera location filming. Comparing the original versions of The Quatermass Experiment, Doctor Who and Survivors with their respective modern-day re-makes, the book unpacks the developments that have resulted from the shift from multi-camera studio to single camera location production. Examining changing acting styles from distinct eras of television production, the book makes a unique contribution to both television and performance studies, unpacking the various determinants that have combined to influence how performers work in the medium.

Abstract only
Richard Hewett

television itself, its case studies offering a valuable index to the times in which they were produced. One of the most notable contrasts between early television drama and the modern day is the shift from multi-​camera studio (initially transmitted live, and later pre-​recorded on videotape) to single camera location filming. The consequences of this were felt only gradually, and due to various other contributing factors were in a constant state of flux. However, studio and location provide a useful starting point for analysing both the changing determinants of British

in The changing spaces of television acting
Richard Hewett

affiliated with a pseudo-​political group, and the survivors make no last-​minute stand. This sequence is entirely single camera location film, and lasts just two minutes and five seconds; extensive use is made of non-​diegetic sound. An example of music rather than performance being used as a primary signifier is provided by the representation of the corpse’s discovery in the two episodes. In ‘Gone Away’, Abby’s sharp intake of breath is accompanied by a close-​up of Carolyn Seymour covering her mouth with her hand (Figure 4.12), providing a clear signifier of shock at

in The changing spaces of television acting