Narrative Form and the British Television Studio 1955–1963

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Abstract

This article examines how the material design of the television studio influenced the resulting fictional mise en scene of different narrative formats broadcast on UK television. Through this spatial analysis the article considers how a bias was formed within the industry between high end single plays and popular series. Using archival production documents that detail the design and resourcing of studio space, it explores the different working studio practices that existed for the single play and series from 1955-63. Drawing on studio floor-plans, internal memos and institutional records of policy discussions that detail the creation, modification and resourcing of studio production facilities, including production control rooms, lighting systems, and camerawork, this article compares the different production practices for the popular BBC police series, Dixon of Dock Green (BBC 1955- 1976) and the anthology series of single plays Armchair Theatre (ABC 1956-74). Although each text was produced for the rival channels of BBC1 and ITV, my intention is not to provide a direct institutional comparison of the production practices of the BBC and ABC but rather to demonstrate how the design and technological resources of a studio can impact upon the aesthetics of different televisual narrative formats. Hence my primary aim is to examine the relationship between the physical attributes of studios and resultant styles of the cheaper, popular series and the more prestigious single play, offering an original approach to considering television space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-368
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2014

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