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Professor Jonathan Bignell

Professor Jonathan Bignell

Areas of interest

I work primarily on television history and the methodologies of television and film analysis. So my work includes using archival sources alongside the detailed study of the audiovisual form and style of films and television programmes. I am also interested in comparative work, especially the different ways that television developed in the UK, in Europe and in the USA. I was taught by Raymond Williams, Stephen Heath and other screen theorists, studying at the universities of Cambridge and Sussex. I also have longstanding research interests in Samuel Beckett's media drama. I have led teams of researchers on several major collaborative externally-funded research projects: Spaces of Television (2010–2015), Acting with Facts (2007–2010), Beckett and the Phenomenology of Doodles (2006–2009), British TV Drama and Acquired US Programmes, 1970–2000 (2005–2008), Cultures of British Television Drama, 1960–1982 (2002–2006) and The BBC Wednesday Play and Post-War British Drama (1996–2000). My current project is Harold Pinter: Histories and Legacies, funded by AHRC, in which I lead research into Pinter's work for television, radio and cinema. 

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students who would like to work on such topics as: the history or theory of television, children's media, or Samuel Beckett's work in film and television. I have supervised theses on postmodern apocalypses in recent TV drama, race and representation in television fiction, the history of Blue Peter, the suburb in television and film, Native Americans in TV fiction, science fiction on British television, interactivity and narrative in contemporary cinema and new media, Beckett's TV drama and the avant-garde, British television drama and the new Left, television medical drama, body modification in cinema, film adaptations of Gothic literature, metatextuality in television science fiction, postmodernism and contemporary film and television, television versions of Samuel Beckett's plays, television adaptations of British classic novels, the semiotics of poetry and advertising, film adaptations of theatre plays, and representations of the military in film and television.


  • Introduction to Television Studies
  • Popular Film Genres 
  • Children's Television
  • Dissertation supervision (undergraduate and master's)

Research centres and groups

Television Drama Research Group

Professional bodies/affiliations

  • Corresponding Editor, Critical Studies in Television
  • Associate Editor of Adaptation journal
  • General Editor, The Television Series, Manchester University Press
  • Member of the editorial advisory board, Journal of Science Fiction Film and Television
  • Member of the editorial advisory board, New Review of Film and Television Studies
  • Member of the editorial advisory board, International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen
  • Member of the editorial advisory board, Studies in Documentary Film
  • Member of the editorial advisory board, Journal of Popular Television
  • Member of the editorial advisory board, Symbolism: An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics
  • Scientific Committee, Revue LISA/LISA e-journal
  • Member of the Board of Trustees, the Beckett International Foundation
  • Member, the European Television History Network
  • Member and Co-Chair, the Southern Broadcasting History Group
  • Member of the Board, the Graduate Centre for International Research in Childhood
  • Member of the Advisory Committee, the British Association for Modernist Studies
  • Member of the Executive Committee, the Centre for Film Aesthetics and Cultures (CFAC)

Selected publications

Full-text PDFs of some of my publications can be downloaded for free on Academia.

Audiovisual resources

Acting on Television symposium: Keynote by Professor Jonathan Bignell, 2016

The Acting on Television symposium at the University of Reading was opened on 8 April 2016 with a keynote lecture by Jonathan Bignell, titled "Performing Television History".

Jonathan Bignell: Spaces of Television, YouTube, 2014

Jonathan Bignell spoke about the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research project Spaces of Television at the Inheriting British Television symposium, National Media Museum on 11 February 2014.

Live Annotation: Jonathan Bignell, YouTube, 2018

Jonathan Bignell analyses a TV broadcast from the Open University course "A305 An Architect at Work" (1975), commenting on its television form for the exhibition "The University is Now on Air" by the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.

Full Interview with Jonathan Bignell: Doctor Who in the '60s, Daleks, Britishness, Peter Capaldi and Doctor Who Favourites, Audioboom, 2013

Matthew Hall interviewed Jonathan Bignell for Junction 11 Radio about the early days of Doctor Who, Daleks, the series' significance in British culture, and Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, on 24 November 2013.