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Title: Serial narratives of the secret state in British television drama, 1979-2010
Author: Oldham, Joseph Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis analyses multi-episode British drama programmes in the spy and conspiracy genres over a period from 1979 to 2010, investigating televisual issues of form and genre and interrogating a model of how television is considered to 'work through' the concerns and anxieties of the nation. Chapter One provides a literature review of the conventions of the spy and conspiracy genres. Chapter Two looks at a cycle of ‘prestige’ adaptations of spy novels beginning with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (BBC2, 1979), considering the new developments they brought to form and genre, particularly in terms of complex serial narratives. Chapter Three analyses a cycle of 'authored' conspiracy serials emerging from traditions of 'radical' television drama across the 1980s, including Edge of Darkness (BBC2, 1985) and A Very British Coup (Channel 4, 1988). Positioning them in relation to the oppositional anxieties of the era, I argue that there emerges a greater tendency for such programming to engage with topical 'headline' issues, thereby playing a greater role in television's 'working through' than the more traditional spy series. Chapter Four takes a more longitudinal approach and examines how the spy series evolved over these decades, from The Professionals (ITV, 1977-83) to Spooks (BBC1, 2002-11), finding that these also display a greater tendency towards topical concerns but that the manner in which this is accomplished is substantially affected by the series form. Finally, Chapter Five analyses a revival of the conspiracy genre in the context of the 'war on terror', considering how programmes such as The State Within (BBC1, 2006) approach the same issues as Spooks but from an alternative perspective. Across the thesis, I explore how over time the formal and generic innovations introduced at the beginning of the period of study are absorbed into and managed by existing traditions and a growing generic self-consciousness, which comes to partially blunt the process of 'working through'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1990 Broadcasting