Staff Profile:Professor Jonathan Bignell

Professor Jonathan Bignell
Job Title:

Co-Investigator on the research project Harold-Pinter-Histories-and-Legacies

Leader of the Grant Development College for the Heritage & Creativity Research Theme

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 audio-visual 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 long-standing research 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 (2010-15), Acting With Facts (2007-10), Beckett and the Phenomenology of Doodles (2006-9), British TV Drama and Acquired US Programmes (1970-2000) (2005-8), Cultures of British Television Drama, 1960-82 (2002-6) 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.

Research groups / Centres:

Full-text PDFs of some of my publications can be downloaded for free from the year-by-year list below (click on the title), and more of my work can be downloaded free at

Audio-visual Resources

'Acting on Television' symposium: Keynote by Prof. Jonathan Bignell ...

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

Jonathan Bignell spoke about the AHRC research project 'Spaces of Television' at the 'Inheriting British Television' symposium at the National Media Museum on 11 February 2014.

Live Annotation: Jonathan Bignell - YouTube

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.

Audioboom / Full Interview with Jonathan Bignell - Doctor Who in the ...

Matthew Hall interviews 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.


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


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


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Beckett on Screen

Professor Jonathan Bignell

Contact Details

+44 (0) 118 378 4073

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