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From studio realism to location realism in BBC television drama
Author: Richard Hewett

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.

Roberta Pearson

conjunction with those other determinants of television acting discussed above: time, the actor’s status within the cast, the visual nature of the medium and input from other creative personnel. This interpretive schema can reveal a great deal not only about Star Trek and similar shows but about any television show. Notes 1 There is simply

in Genre and performance
Abstract only
Richard Hewett

238 Conclusion The methodological approaches employed herein offer as complete a picture as possible of the determinants of British television acting, and cover distinct historical periods. In the live era, from the mid-​1930s up to the early 1960s, the type of experience gained by actors was arguably of greater importance than duration. Many were unaccustomed to the mediating effects of television technology, and had yet to ‘scale down’ approaches to performance that had typically been acquired and developed through stage experience. The varying backgrounds of

in The changing spaces of television acting
Abstract only
Richard Hewett

get out of the scene, work it through and let the crew see where we’re at. Then, if we’re lucky … the director and actors will get maybe ten or maybe 15 minutes to hone it down and cover any other points. (Harper 2007: 46) The comments above represent extreme contrasts in approach to British television acting, from opposite ends of a fifty-​year spectrum. Michael Barry, the first person to head the BBC’s screen drama output,1 describes the rigorous rehearsal process endemic to the world of live broadcasting; a template that survived, in one form or another, decades

in The changing spaces of television acting
Richard Hewett

determinants that have been seen to influence television acting, and to illustrate the alterations in performance style that can result when one or more of these factors is adjusted or removed. The 2005 version of The Quatermass Experiment is notable for returning to the rehearsal template that was a principal feature of studio realism, while employing sophisticated modern technology and a lead cast1 who had come to prominence predominantly in the era of location realism. Its live transmission from a Ministry of Defence testing base (Willett 2005), whose buildings and

in The changing spaces of television acting
Richard Hewett

Rudolph Cartier, the Austrian émigré whose 1953 production The Quatermass Experiment provides this chapter’s focus. Prime among the various determinants of television acting that can be seen at work in The Quatermass Experiment is actor experience, and scenes from the opening episode, ‘Contact has been Established’, illustrate the extent to which certain actors with a greater length (and breadth) of experience had already begun to adapt in terms of vocal projection and physical gesture, while many of their colleagues remained fixed in more stage-​derived codes. As

in The changing spaces of television acting
Abstract only
Addressing intersectionality in the casting and performance of Chris Chibnall / Jodie Whittaker era Doctor Who
Christopher Hogg

’s casting director since 2005, Andy Pryor, along with insights from actors Mandip Gill (playing companion Yasmin Khan since 2018) and Julie Hesmondhalgh ( who plays Judy Maddox in series 11’s ‘Kerblam!’) taken from telephone interviews on 28 October 2019 and 17 November 2019 respectively. Building on my previous work investigating television acting (Cantrell and Hogg, 2016 , 2017 , 2018 ; Hogg and Smith, 2018 ), this chapter consciously foregrounds the experiences, perceptions, and creative processes of those

in Doctor Who – New Dawn
Richard Hewett

William Hartnell only acquired his first television set at the end of 1958 (Carney 1996: 132), by the time he came to play the Doctor he had evolved his own theories of television acting, which he related to later Doctor Who colleague Peter Purves: He took me on one side and he said, ‘Television’s very small, Peter. You won’t see these gestures; [there’s] no point in doing large gestures.’ And he just showed me all these gestures he did around his face … As far as television is concerned, the shots are always that tight, there’s no point in doing something expansive

in The changing spaces of television acting
Richard Hewett

the actor of working on visual effects-​driven productions. As the better known of the series, Doctor Who has generated a greater quantity of behind-​the-​scenes material, and sequences have been selected largely on the basis of the production information this makes available. Survivors employs a number of sequences loosely adapted from Terry Nation’s 1975 storylines; scenes will therefore be used for comparison with the original. As the determinants of television acting have begun to intersect more closely, the use of sub-​headings here is altered slightly to

in The changing spaces of television acting
Richard Hewett

117 3 The genesis of location realism 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, and there were already elements in play that would ultimately come to threaten its primacy as the dominant mode of acting in British television drama. The decade saw the emergence of various factors that would influence actors’ work at the Corporation, beginning with the BBC’s further investment in its existing rehearsal and recording model via the opening in 1970 of

in The changing spaces of television acting