Investing a Studio with Meaning: The Construction of Fictional Space in British Television Drama and the Police Series of 1955-82

  • Ben Lamb

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    British television drama shot in the studio using videotape technology has traditionally been considered to have its own distinctive aesthetic throughout academic studies. The purpose of this study is to test this hypothesis and to explore how representational aesthetics developed for the British television studio from 1955 to 1982. Throughout this era there were a number of different methods of producing television drama in the UK. Practitioners could shoot a drama predominantly in the studio with multiple video cameras, film the majority of their material on location with a single film camera, or use an Outside Broadcast (OB) video system on location. This thesis examines the aesthetic progression of studio-shot drama using video technology and reassesses the notion that it is somehow not authentically televisual on account of its close affinity to theatrical aesthetic practice.

    In order to achieve this aim this thesis uses the British police series as a genre case study. The thesis examines landmark police series with a methodology that takes into account how the material spaces of production in television studios conditioned the aesthetic forms of programmes. With this understanding of space in mind the close textual analyses of landmark police texts incorporate a semiotic discourse, as used in Theatre Studies, that pays close attention to proxemics, space and performance. This enables the thesis to chart the aesthetic development of studio fiction, explore the plurality of the studio technique and assess the role space itself has in the visual articulation of character and themes. As part of this case study the thesis discerns to what extent, and in what manner, studio-shot fiction engaged with sociological debates surrounding class and gender occurring within British society.
    Date of AwardJan 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorStephen Lacey (Supervisor), Ruth McElroy (Supervisor) & Rebecca Williams (Supervisor)


    • Television plays, English
    • Television programs
    • Great Britain

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