The BBC Wednesday Play and Post-War British Drama (1996-2000)

Description of the project

Publications from the project

British TV book coverDescription of the project

This research project ran from 1996-2000 and was a collaboration between this Department and colleagues in English at the University of Reading. It ran from 1996-2000 and was funded by the Humanities Research Board of the British Academy. The project was led by Jonathan Bignell and Stephen Lacey, working with the research fellow Madeleine Macmurraugh-Kavanagh.

The central topic of research was the BBC's series of television plays broadcast between 1964 and 1970 under the collective title 'The Wednesday Play'. The series was investigated and evaluated in terms of its place within the BBC as a broadcasting institution, and in relation to wider aspects of British cultural and political life. This involved exploring the commissioning and production process, the development of the series over time, the reception of the plays by television viewers, and the aesthetic and ideological factors which affected the series from both inside and outside the BBC. The research understood the Wednesday Play series in its dialogue with British theatre plays and with other kinds of television broadcasting and cinema. The project involved original archival research into the resources at the BBC Written Archives Centre in Caversham, Reading, as well as textual criticism, cultural study, methodological and theoretical work. As well as publications, the project initiated symposia and conferences where speakers included television executives, producers, writers, directors and performers, as well as academics. Some of the conference presentations, including those by television professionals, were published in the book British Television Drama listed below, and the Television Drama Research Group was set up as a result of this project.

Publications from the project

Bignell, J., S. Lacey & M.K. Macmurraugh-Kavanagh (eds) (2000), British Television Drama: Past Present and Future (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000).

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. K. (1997), 'The BBC and the Birth of the "Wednesday Play", 1962-66: Institutional Containment versus "Agitational Contemporaneity"' Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 17 (3), pp. 367-381.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. K. (1997), '"Drama" into "News": Strategies of Intervention in "The Wednesday Play"', Screen 38 (3), pp. 247-259.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. K. (1997-8), The BBC Wednesday Play, 1964-1970: Researching and Interpreting a Formative Moment in British Television Drama, Media Education Journal 7, pp. 10-14.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. K. (1999), 'Boys on Top: Gender and Authorship on the BBC Wednesday Play, 1964-70', Media, Culture & Society 21, pp. 409-25.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. K. (1999), '"Kicking over the Traces": An Interview with Tony Garnett', Media Education Journal 24 (1998), pp. 23-30.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. K. (1999), and S. Lacey, 'Who Framed Theatre?: The "Moment of Change" in British TV Drama', New Theatre Quarterly 15 (1), pp. 58-74.

Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. K. (2000), 'Too Secret for Words: Coded Dissent in Female-authored Wednesday Plays' In: J. Bignell, S. Lacey & M.K. Macmurraugh-Kavanagh (eds), British Television Drama: Past Present and Future (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan) pp. 150-161.

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