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TV Londons Conference Programme - 28 & 29 July 2022

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Essays and Writings:

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Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone

Gene Roddenberry’s  Star Trek

David Wickes’  Jack the Ripper and Telefantasy

‘David Wickes’ Jack the Ripper and Telefantasy EXPANDED VERSION

History and Fiction in Doctor Who

Re-reading Christopher H. Bidmead

Towards a definition of satire in Doctor Who

Robert Holmes' "Carnival of Monsters"

Surveillance and Space in Doctor Who

Peter Ling's "The Mind Robber"

Difficult Television

Difficult Television Part 2

Philip Martin’s “Vengeance on Varos”

Terrance Dicks’ “The Five Doctors”

Andrew's Interviews Page The Trip of a Lifetime

TV Londons

Exploring Representations of London on Television

London, 28-29 July 2022

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A CREAM, University of Westminster conference, in collaboration with the University of Brighton


About the organisers 

Dr Christopher Hogg is a Senior Lecturer in Television Theory at the University of Westminster, UK. Chris specialises in television drama and television acting, with a particular interest in bringing together industry and academic perspectives. He is the co-author (with Dr Tom Cantrell, the University of York) of the book Acting in British Television (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and the co-editor (also with Cantrell) of the collection Exploring Television Acting (Bloomsbury, 2018). Chris’s recently published monograph, Adapting Television Drama: Theory & Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), utilises interview insights from a range of industry professionals to explore the creative and professional approaches behind contemporary television adaptations. With a particular focus on female and/or minority ethnic perspectives, the book also considers important current industry adaptations in addressing equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Dr Douglas McNaughton is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Art and Media at the University of Brighton, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research interests include the political economy of television production and representations of space and place in British screen cultures. Recent publications include articles and book chapters on camerawork as performance, nostalgia in the film T2 Trainspotting, the aesthetics of space and place in Cold War spy dramas, and Scottishness in the BBC’s Doctor Who. Forthcoming work includes articles on masculinity in 1960s spy-fi television (with Craig Haslop, University of Liverpool), and folk horror in 1970s British children’s television. 

Dr Andrew O’Day is an independent scholar. He is co-author (with Professor Jonathan Bignell) of the book Terry Nation (2004) and editor of Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour (2014), Doctor Who: Twelfth Night (2019) and co-editor (with Dr Brigid Cherry and Professor Matt Hills) of Doctor Who: New Dawn (2021). Andrew has published widely on television including the article ‘I Know You Killed Lucy: Soap and Prediction for EastEnders 30th Anniversary’ for the Television Heaven website as well as on Jack the Ripper and on LGBTQ issues. He can be found on the Web at

Day 1: 28 July 2022

9.30-9.50 – Registration and Refreshments

9.50 – Organisers’ Welcome

10.00-11.00 – Keynote 1

Imagining television: London and the early years of BBC TV
Jonathan Bignell

This talk will analyse the tensions between the centripetal and centrifugal forces at work in the early decades of television from London. It was ambitious but parochial, international but local, and still working out what the medium was for. From its beginnings in the 1920s until the erection of an aerial mast in the Midlands in 1949, the British television service was London-centric, metropolitan in character and projected to a small middle-class audience. London’s department stores and exhibitions had offered venues for test transmissions and demonstrations of television throughout the 1920s, and although the BBC was the national broadcaster its television service, officially inaugurated in 1936, was, in effect, regional rather than national. When BBC TV began, signals radiated only a few dozen miles from London, hardly anyone owned a television set, and technological and commercial restrictions limited the scope of television programming. Newspapers, cinema and live performance were each threatened by television and competed with it for content and personnel. In its limited way, however, television, like radio, helped to construct London, Britain and the British Empire as ‘imagined communities’ (Benedict Anderson). Both radio and television were close to quotidian reality because they were mainly live rather than recorded media. For television, this immediacy meant privileging live events such as outside broadcasts of national ceremonies, as well as live performers in the London studios. The tiny audiences for BBC television did not match ideas of national collective identity that were promoted during wartime, and television stopped between 1939 and 1946, but even on the day war broke out there was live television from London’s Olympia exhibition hall when Australian and West Indian visitors gave their impressions of Britain, and there were live performances by amateurs who had brought along a ukulele and violin. Before and after the Second World War, television programmes were created and transmitted from a metropolitan, English base but one that claimed to be the heart of a global Britain. To go beyond the studio, the BBC used Outside Broadcast units, relaying plays from London’s West End, cricket from the Oval and live coverage of the 1948 London Olympics. Looking both outward and back at itself, the London of television’s formative years was a testing-ground for what broadcasting and Britain might be.

Jonathan Bignell, PhD, is Professor of Television and Film at the University of Reading. He is a member of the editorial advisory boards of journals including the Journal of Popular Television, the Journal of Science Fiction Film and Television and the New Review of Film and Television Studies. He is a Corresponding Editor for Critical Studies in Television and a General Editor of ‘The Television Series’ books from Manchester University Press. His own books include three editions of An Introduction to Television Studies, Terry Nation (with Andrew O’Day) and Big Brother: Reality TV in the Twenty-first Century. As co-editor he has published A European Television History, Popular Television Drama: Critical Perspectives, two editions of British Television Drama: Past, Present and Future, and most recently three volumes in MUP’s Moments in Television series. His journal articles include contributions to Critical Studies in Television, Adaptation, Screen, Media History and the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.

11.00-11.15 Break

11.15-12.35 – Panel 1 – Making TV Londons

The Geographies of Interwar Television
John Wyver

Television broadcasts from the Baird Company, the BBC and a small number of other interests between 1928 and 1939 negotiated the spaces of London in multiple ways. This paper offers a partial account of those television spaces and the beginnings of an analysis of their geographical significance.

Studio sites ranged across the capital, including Selfridge’s, Covent Garden’s Long Acre, Broadcasting House, Crystal Palace and Alexandra Palace. Each inflected the productions made in them. Locations for the limited range transmissions created audiences concentrated in specific areas, but at times these were linked to a range of remote sites, in continental Europe, and even the east coast of the United States, as well as a speeding express train and an aeroplane circling above the metropolis. Linked too were more permanent viewing locations, including department stores and radio dealerships, cinemas, Radiolympia, the Science Museum and Waterloo Station.

The Baird Company extended television’s production geography to Epsom for the Derby as early as 1931, and once the BBC’s high-definition service was launched, the spaces of creation gradually expanded from the studios and terrace at Alexandra Palace (AP), into the surrounding park, and then across London for the 1937 Coronation procession at Hyde Park, Wimbledon and West End theatres.

Other locations further enhanced the novel picturing of the capital, yet each was dependent on physical access to limited GPO landlines to relay images and audio back to AP. The map of the GPO’s landline network was fundamental to the early development of television beyond the studio. At the same time, the occasional use of a BBC mobile film unit was also broadening the production space, as when the television service was among the newsreel units at Heston aerodrome to record Neville Chamberlain’s ‘Peace for our time’ remarks on his 30 September 1938 return from Munich.

In the months before the closure of the service at the start of September 1939 (in part as the result of the geography-based fears that the AP transmitter might help direct Hitler’s bombers) the extension of the service to Birmingham was being actively considered, although the war delayed this until 1949 when the Sutton Coldfield transmitter was finally opened.

Drawing on materials from the BBC Written Archives Centre at Caversham, on other written materials, as well as the analysis of photographs and film fragments, this paper explores the production, transmission and reception geographies of interwar television, and seeks to understand the ways in which the early service was shaped by them.

John Wyver is Professor of the Arts on Screen, University of Westminster; Director, Screen Productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company; and a writer and producer with Illuminations, the media company he co-founded in 1982. His productions have been honoured with a BAFTA Award, an International Emmy and a Peabody Award. Recent broadcasts include Drama Out of a Crisis: A Celebration of Play for Today (2020) and Coventry Cathedral: Building for a New Britain (2021) together with the continuing RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon ‘event cinema’ series of Shakespeare’s plays. He has published widely on the arts and performance on screen, on the history of British broadcasting, and on digital culture. His books include Vision On: Film, Television and the Arts (2009) and Screening the Royal Shakespeare Company: A Critical History (2019), and he is working on a cultural history of British television in the interwar years.

The life of the Good Life House: the spatial legacies of ‘site’ in a suburban London situation comedy
Paul Newland

The BBC television sitcom The Good Life (BBC1, 1975-8) focusses on the attempts of Tom and Barbara Good (Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal) to escape the rat race by becoming totally self-sufficient in their Surbiton home. Location filming took place in the Greater London suburb of Northwood, where the exterior of the Edwardian detached house situated at 55 Kewferry Road was chosen as the home of the Goods.

In this paper I will explore the representational qualities of 55 Kewferry Road as it appears in the series, paying particular attention to the architectural specificities of the house. I will argue that this house facilitates the depiction of a ‘classed’ London in the series, by paying specific attention to the ways in which the building spatially informs the class tensions that shape the comedy drama.

In addition to this, I will examine how far the representation of the house in the television series has informed the history of this building and its environs in subsequent years. Drawing on interviews with the current owners of 55 Kewferry Road and research into media stories about the sale of the property (paying particular attention to the ways in which estate agents have employed the link to The Good Life as a marketing tool when the property has been put up for sale), I will analyse how far the narrative and key thematic aspects of The Good Life have shaped not only the history of the house at 55 Kewferry Road – and the lives of those who have lived in this building – but also the wider spatial environment of suburban Norwood and suburban London over the last 40 years

Dr Paul Newland is currently Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange in the College of Arts, Humanities and Education at the University of Worcester (UK). He has also worked at Bath Spa University, Aberystwyth University, the University of Exeter, and the University of Plymouth. Paul has published widely on representations of cities, landscapes and architecture in literature and film. Books include The Cultural Construction of London’s East End (2008) and British Films of the 1970s (2013). Edited books include Don’t Look Now: British Cinema in the 1970s (2010), British Rural Landscapes on Film (2016), and British Art Cinema (with Brian Hoyle, 2019). He has published a number of articles and chapters on representations of London, including ‘Global Markets and a Market Place: Reading BBC Television’s Eastenders as the Anti-Docklands’, in the Journal of British Cinema and Television, Vol. 5 No. 1 (May 2008), and ‘Shaun of the Dead and the Construction of Cult Space in Post-Millennial London’, in Pam Hirsch and Chris O’Rourke (eds), London on Film: The City and Social Change (Palgrave, 2018). Paul also explores his interest in space and place through his creative research as a filmmaker and critically-acclaimed musician.

Filming at Elstree and Beyond: EastEnders and Grange Hill
Andrew O’Day

This talk will centre around a largely neglected area: the filming of EastEnders and Grange Hill at BBC Elstree Studios and also on location in London and beyond. Looking at EastEnders, the paper will position the Elstree set of an area of London’s East End in the industrial context of the BBC and in relation to audience surveys conducted during the planning stages of the series (see Buckingham 1987); attention will be paid to the practicalities of filming on a built set at Elstree, rather than in a real area in London itself, connecting this with the fact that EastEnders is an example of television form’s continuing serial; the paper will explore the way that, while London and the East End cover a large geographical space, EastEnders’ relatively small set fits in with the soap opera genre and its focus on family relationships and community; and the talk will discuss the fact that this location, although expanded and updated, is part of EastEnders format, while, over the programme’s 37 years on air, many characters have left and many new characters have been introduced, often arriving and departing by a mode of transport which takes them into and outside the parameters of the programme. However, the issue will be raised that EastEnders is filmed at other locations such as in Central London, in other areas of the United Kingdom, and even abroad but that these excursions are still linked to the small Walford community. Moving on and I will conclude by examining the filming of Grange Hill at Elstree and various locations such as at London schools and will situate the use of certain locations in relation to Realism. Creator Phil Redmond’s programmes (Brookside, Hollyoaks and Grange Hill) have been discussed as realistic but the use of ‘Realistic’ locations has not.

Buckingham, David (1987), Public Secrets: EastEnders and its audience, London, BFI.

12.35-1.35 – Lunch

1.35-2.55 – Panel 2 – Fantasy Londons

‘We made it! London, 1965!’ The representation of London in early Doctor Who/1960s British telefantasy
Nicolò Villani [TEAMS]

This presentation was rescheduled and given at the beginning of the London From Abroad panel on Friday July 29.

Since its first appearance on British broadcast television (BBC1) in 1963, Doctor Who has been one of the most audiovisual products in which ‘Britishness’ played – and still plays – a crucial role in constructing a strong and recognizable identity. During the first two seasons of the classic Doctor Who run, the representation of London was used as a ‘narrative anchor’ to create a bridge between the audience and the main characters, especially Ian and Barbara, who travelled with the Doctor mainly to return home after their first adventure. The TARDIS usually avoided to bring back her crew to London, leading to adventures through Time and Space and delaying Ian and Barbara’s farewell to the Doctor (and to the audience as well). Despite this, during the first two seasons of Doctor Who we have some interesting representations of London, narratively used to remind us where Barbara and Ian are aiming to return to and welding the series to its contemporary pop culture environment. The paper will discuss the second season serial ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ (1964), in which the TARDIS crew reach London in 2164 (two centuries after the series broadcast) during a dystopian alien invasion: in this serial we find some interesting and diversified representations of the city, both in its deconstruction and in its tourist exaltation. Secondly I’ll focus on the second season serial ‘The Chase’ (1965), which shows two different images of London: during the first episode of the serial we have a fast but significant image of the Beatles playing Ticket to Ride on Top of the Pops in 1965 and later, in the final episode of the serial, Ian and Barbara finally arrive in contemporary London.

The paper will proceed to look at the development from the first serial ‘An Unearthly Child’ (1963) with its Victorian-like junkyard to ‘The War Machines’ (1966), the first full-length return to contemporary London, reflecting the Swinging Sixties where two men fight over a groovy chick. I shall probe the connections between Doctor Who and Adam Adamant Lives! (1966-67), the BBC’s answer to The Avengers (1961- 69), with Adam Adamant created by Sydney Newman and produced by Verity Lambert after their collaboration on Doctor Who, where Adam Adamant’s conservative Victorian/Edwardian values clash with those of Swinging Sixties London in which he finds himself. Mention will also be made of Anneke Wills’ roles in both Doctor Who and Strange Report (1969-70).

I will then move onto look further at the modernity of 1960s Doctor Who (Gatwick Airport in ‘The Faceless Ones’ [1967] and ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ [1967], with the airport having been discussed by Jonathan Bignell in relation to The Avengers, the trendy café in ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ clashing with the Victorian setting, and the skyscrapers of ‘The Invasion’ [1968]).

The paper will conclude by looking at the studio recreations of London in 1960s Doctor Who such as in ‘The Web of Fear’ [1968] where such was the excellence of the set of the London Underground that London Transport complained that filming had taken place in the Underground without permission, and also the use of London locations such as the Post Office Tower in ‘The War Machines' and St Paul's Cathedral in ‘The Invasion'. All this will lead to the conclusion that while Doctor Who is telefantasy, its representations of London are grounded in sound cultural contexts.

Nicolò Villani graduated at the DAMS of Bologna with a thesis in Media Semiotics and a master's degree from CITEM in the History of Seriality. Among his interests are structural semiotics, the contemporary media landscape, the evolution of digital media and the possibility of bringing the structural investigation – especially through the recent evolutions of Ethnosemiotics – close to contemporary audiovisual textuality. Fresh from his experience as a juror for Venice 75 Classics section, he is editor-in-chief for Birdmen Magazine, and is a Ph.D student at the e-Campus and a member of CUBE – Bologna University Center of Ethnosemiotics

Unreal and real Londons: the use of locations in the BBC’s Neverwhere (1996)
Tony Keen

As many have recognised, most recently Hadas Elber-Aviram in Fairy Tales of London (2021), Neil Gaiman’s 1996 novel Neverwhere was a game-changer in the depiction of fantastic Londons. Though most famous as a novel, Neverwhere began life as a television series, commissioned by the BBC. Though the original series is not generally well-respected, largely because the final product did not reflect Gaiman’s vision, the television format remains rooted in the DNA of the novel. This paper looks at the ways in which the fantasy landscape of London Below was formed by the use of actual locations for filming, and the interactions in this manner between television series and novel. This will include moments where the tv locations influenced how scenes eventually played out in the novel (e.g. the description of Blackfriars Underground station in the novel owes much more to the filming location of Aldwych than it does to the actual Blackfriars), and others where limitations on the original tv production were overcome by Gaiman in the subsequent novel (e.g. the original planned location of the ‘Floating Market’ in Harrod’s was denied permission by the owners, and it was relocated to Battersea Power Station, with interiors filmed in the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane; in the novel, Gaiman restored the location to Harrod’s). The object is to re-establish the tv series as an important piece of Neverwhere’s evolution, not to be forgotten.

Dr Tony Keen is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame (USA in England). He has taught courses on London and the fantastic for Middlesex University, Notre Dame, and the Manchester Centre for Continuing Education. He has written on various aspects of science fiction for Foundation, Vector, and Strange Horizons.

Abandoned Londons: the imagination of disaster in television drama
Douglas McNaughton

Science fiction has long projected the end of the world. As Christopher Daley explains, ‘British disaster fiction perpetually exposed the anxieties haunting the overt civility of Victorian, Edwardian, and interwar Britain’ (2014: 133) and Daley shows how these anxieties intersected with Cold War fears. In her essay ‘The Imagination of Disaster’ (1965), Susan Sontag writes ‘The trump card of the end-of-the-world movies… is that great scene with New York or London or Tokyo discovered empty, its entire population annihilated’ (45).

London is key to representations of the end of the world in the British imaginary. While these fantasy images have a long history in screen fictions, they became fact during the Covid-19 pandemic. During the regular lockdowns, images of an apparently deserted London filled the British media, images both familiar from their fictional representations and strange because of their reality. This paper connects these real-life images with previous imaginings of deserted London in post-apocalyptic British television drama. Case studies include Doctor Who (BBC 1963-present), Survivors (BBC 1975-77; 2008-2010) and The Day of the Triffids (BBC 1981; 2009).

Daley, C. 2014. The Not So Cozy Catastrophe: Reimagining the British Disaster Novel in J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962) and Brian Aldiss’ Barefoot in the Head (1969). In: Germanà, M. and Mousoutzanis, A. eds. Apocalyptic Discourse in Contemporary Culture: Post-Millennial Perspectives on the End of the World. London: Routledge.
Sontag. S. 1965. The Imagination of Disaster. Commentary 40 (4), October, 42-48

2.55-3.10 – Break

3.10-4.30 – Panel 3 – Virtual Londons

Transmogrification: Experiencing London Without Ever Leaving One's Couch.
Stacy Embry [TEAMS]

Just a week before Christmas, the angels soared as the tourists sat covered by plastic on the top of a double-decker bus traversing Regent Street. The experience of London is never enough but adding the holidays to the mix only made the impact more visceral. The rain diminished nothing as the children in the group struggled under dripping umbrellas whilst getting a better look at the lights flowing above.

The passive documentary ‘The Lights Before Christmas: Luminous London’ gives the viewer no plot, no story, no characters and all of the historic city to explore with no guide or chatty companion. Without narrative, the outing becomes authentically individually mesmerizing because it is personal: No two viewers would have the same experience. The pilgrim sees London for themself whilst that very transmogrification alters their life. Seeing and hearing ambient companions around, the visitor feels right there alongside strangers who are intimate as friends. The magic of London lays before the observer without a point-of-view director deciding what the experience should be. It is a raw London without a tour guide and this journey of a lifetime is taken from one’s own couch.

As angels fly overhead and large projections thrust themselves aggressively onto botanical buildings, the occasional non-invasive history footnote again inserts itself giving context without conscious awareness. Still, the experience feels organic and authentic. Starting at the London Eye and ending with tired children leaving to go home and dream of Saint Nick, experiencing the luminosity of London, in person or on film, changes the tourist. This streaming service video gives access to a real London whilst taking the viewer on a transformative escape from their patently obvious life.

Stacy Embry is a professor of English at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide. A native of Indiana in the United States, her background includes master's degrees in English Literature and Educational Psychology. A dedicated academic, her point of intersection between culture and literature has always been television. Most recently published in the Journal Implicit Religion on the series Doctor Who, Stacy is a passionate Anglophile who has never been outside America. Loving all things British, she felt a distance from the United Kingdom until happenstance brought a point-of-view travel experience video that changed her perspective. The “Lights Before Christmas: Luminous London” documentary showed Stacy the streets and sights of her preferred city at Christmastide. Her dearest dream came true as the experience felt real. Feeling authentically invigorated, the lingering benefit helped her escape total isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost two years later, she can still close her eyes and be on a bus experiencing Regent Street.

MTV Londons: Community, Identity and City Life in the Modern Music Video
Drago Momcilovic [TEAMS]

Since the dawn of the MTV age in 1981, music videos of the Anglophone world have incarnated multiple, politically progressive portraits of the urban environment. Music video directors and artists have collaborated to curate particular images of the city that showcase not only the recording artists in question but also the various publics and subcultures to which their work is so often addressed. In this sense, I follow Andrew Goodwin’s argument in Dancing in the Distraction Factory that the music video clip is to be seen as a showcase for the modern pop singer’s “star-text” – that narrative of personality, artistry, and public life that attaches to the music video artist and informs their repertoire. However, I also want to extend Goodwin’s idea of the “star-text” to the world these stars and their audiences share and co-create: the modern metropolis, whose diverse populations, thronging movements, and rationalized spaces shape the way communities, and especially disempowered or subaltern communities, develop and forge a sense of belonging in the urban environment and beyond.

In this paper, I argue that the history of the modern music video clip and its relation to community formation and identity politics can be seen best through the lens of its creative explorations of London, in particular, which evolve along three distinct trajectories. The first, popularized before the advent of MTV, consists of video clips by Bob Dylan, The Who, and the Beatles, who innovate the archetypal structure of the modern video by troping London as a traditional site of tourism. Its visual landmarks, however, forge generational community between artist and audience and re-center the youth cultures of the 1960s as the primary consumers of an evolving sense of Britishness.

The second occurs during the MTV era, when artists like the Pet Shop Boys, Bronski Beat, Prodigy, U.N.K.L.E., Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin, Everything But the Girl, and Madonna reveal London as a space of technological and industrial modernity. In their videos, London’s subterranean spaces and hidden nightclubs are placed on view, exposing subaltern communities searching for greater visibility and creative agency in a world that often ostracizes them based on race, class, and sexuality.

The third arises in the contemporary era, as digital and virtual technologies proliferate alongside a global pandemic, political stalemate, and racial reckoning. Artists like Coldplay, Wolf Alice, Will.i.Am, Kylie Minogue, and Elderbrook project images of a phantom London – actually, of phantom Londons that foster and simultaneously strain community bonds across virtual spaces and social distances.

In this paper, I also differentiate the visual language of these music video portraits of London, arguing that the mass media form’s unique aesthetic character allows it to highlight three powerful visual tropes of community formation and belonging that the modern metropolis offers: the physically present and powerfully visual heritage site; the cinematographic tropes of mobility and movement, as cameras follow artists and actors through both accessible and inhospitable city spaces; and the editing techniques that gesture toward the presence of seemingly invisible hot spots and hot zones.

Drago Momcilovic earned his doctorate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at UW-Milwaukee. His teaching and research interests include gender, technology, monstrosity, animal studies, posthumanism, environmental literature, and popular culture and identity politics in European and Anglo-American literature, cinema and television. He is the editor of the collection of essays Resounding Pasts: Essays in Literature, Music and Cultural Memory and the author of the recent articles “‘It’s Too Bad We’re Not Horses’: The Animal as Witness in Bird Box” and “Music Video Gothic: Fragmentary Form at the Dawn of MTV.”

‘London. My city. It was a monstrous place.’ Mapping and materialising Georgian London in City of Vice (Channel 4, 2008)
Professor Claire Monk, De Montfort University

For five weeks in January to February 2008, up to 2.7million Channel 4 viewers each week (an 11% audience share for the 9pm peak post-watershed slot) were hooked by the historical drama series City of Vice set in 18th-century London – and particularly by its opening sequence, in which a birds-eye-view camera travelled along the Thames from east to west, passing the Tower of London, before sweeping inland at St Pauls and continuing along Fleet Street to zoom down onto Covent Garden market and nearby Bow Street. This opening sequence was accompanied by a sombre cello, and the equally sombre narratorial voice of actor Ian McDiarmid, cast as Henry Fielding, the celebrated 18th-century novelist and dramatist, but also (less widely known) appointed in around 1748 as Magistrate of Westminster and Middlesex: London’s chief magistrate. However, City of Vice – set, with precision, in 1753 – established the Georgian capital for its viewers not by manipulating aerial filmed footage of the real city, nor via use of exterior location shots – but by filming John Rocque’s 1746 Map of London (itself a cartographic feat which had taken 10 years to complete), then using CGI techniques to bring Rocque’s map to three-dimensional life. Both this opening sequence and the wider dramatic and materialisation strategies used in each episode propelled viewers through the drawn map(ped) streets, swooping aerially across the virtual Georgian city to land at precise real locations where the 3D map burns and fuses into the filmed live-action sequences of each week’s narrative.

Produced by Touchpaper Television (a subsidiary of RDF Media) and Justin Hardy’s company Hardy & Sons for Channel 4, directed by Hardy and Dan Reed, and written by Clive Bradley and Peter Harness, with the social and women’s historian Hallie Rubenhold as its historical advisor, City of Vice’s subject was the struggle – spearheaded personally by Fielding with his younger brother John Fielding (Iain Glen) (also a magistrate: ‘the blind beak of Bow Street’, blind since youth) – to give London its tiny first police force, the Bow Street Runners. The Fieldings hoped, idealistically, to bring peace and order to the brutal, chaotic, crime-ridden capital: a place of grotesque inequality and constant danger, made ‘monstrous’ by ‘commerce and trade’, where ‘everything was available, at a price’ (Fielding in City of Vice, Episode 1). Moreover, City of Vice’s storylines, as well as its overall conceit and historical London topography, drew closely on primary historical sources and documents: the Proceedings of the Old Bailey (at a date when the Old Bailey Online project’s digitisation of these records for public access was still a work in progress), the Newgate Calendar and Henry Fielding’s own diaries/memoirs. In a further innovation, Channel 4 Education commissioned an historically accurate interactive game counterpart to the series, Bow Street Runner.

City of Vice ran for only one season, but it nonetheless remains a significant, even unique, series meriting further attention: as a hybrid experiment in fusing historical drama/crime drama, primary-sourced factual London and criminal history, historical and digital mapping, and CGI interactivity; and for its closely related solutions to the particular problems of how to visualise, dramatise, materialise and ‘accurately’ represent historical Londons in television. Above all, City of Vice sought ways to bring viewers ‘inside’ its virtual Georgian London experientially, alongside its flawed and human narrator and the beleagured Runners, as observers, witnesses – and, in the Bow Street Runner game, fellow detectives – but never as tourists.

Claire Monk is Professor of Film & Film Culture at De Montfort University, a founding member of DMU’s Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI) and Centre for Adaptations, and an (at least) eighth-generation Londoner. Her field is the cultural, socio-political and contextual understanding of British cinema and film culture since the 1970s across contemporary and period representations, extending to historical/history genres on TV. She is known particularly for her contribution to the debates around ‘heritage’ and ‘post-heritage’ cinema, in work which re-directed attention onto questions of gender, sexuality, class and pleasure. Her monograph Heritage Film Audiences (EUP, 2011) and follow-on publications brought the perspectives of audiences and fans into these debates. Her wider work on British cinema spans the politics – cultural, socio-economic, sexual and representational – of the Thatcher and Blair eras; masculinities from the 1990s ‘underclass film’ to the queer spectrum; the UK work of transnational directors (Pawlikowki, Kaurismäki); socio-economic, historical, urban and regional geographies and questions of place; and discourses of regeneration and decline. She has published on TV and cinematic London in ‘London and contemporary Britain in Monkey Dust’ (2007) and ‘“Where I come from, we eat places like this for breakfast”’, on Kaurismäki’s I Hired a Contract Killer (2009), both for the Journal of British Cinema and Television. Recent publications include ‘EMI and the “pre-heritage” period film’, Journal of British Cinema and Television (2021); ‘Maurice without ending: from Forster’s palimpsest to fan-text’ in Sutton & Tsai (Eds) Twenty-First-Century Readings of E. M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’ (Liverpool UP, 2020, in paperback 2023); and ‘Pageantry and populism, democratization and dissent: the forgotten 1970s’ in Upstairs and Downstairs: British Costume Drama Television from The Forsyte Saga to Downton Abbey, Leggott & Taddeo eds (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). The BFI’s 2019 UK Blu-ray release of the 30th-anniversary restoration of James Ivory’s classic LGBTQ film Maurice (1987) features Claire’s audio commentary, acclaimed by The Arts Desk as ‘revelatory’. Her chapter on ‘the long shadow’ and long queer-cinematic provenance of 2018 Oscar-winner Ivory is in press (for 2023) in Williams & Lamberti (Eds) Call Me by Your Name: Perspectives on the Film (Intellect).

4.30-4.50 – Break and Refreshments

4.50-5.50 – Keynote 2

Mapping Invisible Londons in the ABC decade
Charlotte Brunsdon

This paper will explore the way in which different types of invisible London have been brought to greater visibility, or become visible, in the recent period. Developing my previous work on London as a television city, I will pursue the argument that the dominant, internationally recognised image of London prior to the ABC decade (Austerity-Brexit-Covid) has been in crisis since about 2010, and will consider some of the new television Londons and the issues at stake therein. While I will address some general questions about television cities and television London in a streaming age, my main discussion will be of two contrasted BBC series, McMafia (2017) and Uprising (2021), which I will argue offer some contrasted possibilities for London’s future.

Charlotte Brunsdon is author of London in Cinema (2007) and Television Cities: Paris, London, Baltimore (2019) and has recently edited Stuart Hall’s Writings on Media (2021). She taught for many years at the University of Warwick and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

6:00-9:00 – Walking Tour

Day 2: 29 July 2022

9.30-10.00 – Registration and Refreshments

10.00-11.20 – Panel 1– Other Londons: Representation, Power and Inequality

A Home in East London: mediating spatial inequality and gentrification in contemporary television drama at the intersection of local and global.
Anna Viola Sborgi

In this paper, I explore the crucial role of contemporary televisual depictions of the home and housing in mediating the politics and aesthetics of gentrification in East London. While the cinematic and televisual East End has certainly a long history, as scholars like Brunsdon (2007 and 2018) and Newland (2008) have demonstrated, and contemporary depictions of the area are imbricated with its past cultural representations, I want to focus in particular on three shows that are explicitly concerned with the urban transformation of East London as it has been unfolding in recent years: Channel 4 and Netflix’s Top Boy (2011-2013 and 2019-present), Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum (Channel 4, 2015-2017) and Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s Catastrophe (2015-2019). In particular, I demonstrate how the process of urban change accelerated by the 2012 Olympics and the increasing socioeconomic inequality arising from it are played out specifically within the space of home and housing in the mediated borough. Depicting different types of housing – the council block, the townhouse, the apartment – the shows I consider engage with often different ideas of property and home in a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood. These, in turn, intersect with issues of inequality across gender, race and class lines and inform the representation of East London as a strongly contested urban terrain, where different categories of people fight for the right to housing and to the city in a wider sense. While the competing ideas of home refracted in the shows need to be situated within a specifically local socioeconomic context – London’s real estate boom and the post-1980s privatization of the British public housing stock – they also participate in the transnational dynamics of the housing crisis, which is local and global at the same time. This interplay between local and global is reflected in the aesthetics of the shows but also further demonstrated by their production and distribution histories. Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, representations of a gentrifying East London reach multiple screens worldwide and assume new meanings for their international audiences. While they clearly still engage with the local at various levels – representation, location shooting, promotion, development of local talent – these representations of the neighbourhood on global screens necessarily lose some local specificity, in a process of mainstreaming and commodification that, in many ways, is a facet of gentrification itself. Moreover, I argue that, despite engaging at some level with the borough’s earlier depiction as the poverty-stricken and crime-ridden, working-class “other” to the West End, these shows increasingly mediate the Eastern part of the city as a highly transitional space, a site of convergence and global connectivity, while, at the same, local struggles for home, belonging and socioeconomic equality are reframed within a transnational geographical and media landscape.

Dr Anna Viola Sborgi is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the Department of Film and Screen Media, University College Cork Ireland. Her current Horizon-2020-funded project, MEDIAHOMES: Housing Precarity on Screen in Ireland, Portugal and the UK from the 2008 crisis to COVID-19, investigates transnational mediations of housing inequality in Europe, their production and circulation. She holds a PhD in Film Studies (King’s College London) and a PhD in Comparative Literature (University of Genoa). Her Film Studies PhD, ‘London’s Moving East’ – Film, Television, and Gentrification, 1980 to the present, which she is currently working on to develop into a monograph, investigated East London’s spatial politics and the different ways in which the film and media industries represent but also participate in the gentrification of the area. She was previously Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Genoa, Italy, where she worked on a project on post-2000 representations of high-rise and tower-block living within the London skyline. Recent publications include “Grenfell on Screen” in After Grenfell: Violence, Resistance and Response (Pluto Press, 2019) and “Housing Problems: Britain’s Housing Crisis and Documentary” in Cinema of Crisis: Film and Contemporary Europe (EUP, July 2020). She is an editorial board member at Mediapolis: a Journal of Cities and Culture and co-chairs the Urbanism/Geography/Architecture Scholarly Interest Group at the Society of Cinema and Media Studies.

The ‘other London’: Black Britain’s silently salient march from New Cross to central London as represented in Blood Ah Go Run.
María Piqueras Pérez

When thinking of London, landmarks such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, Hyde Park or even double-decker red buses come to mind. However, there is much more beyond these places in London given that it is a city with many faces, especially those hidden London places or stories that do not come so quickly to the imagination when one thinks of London but that are, at the same time, intrinsically linked to the city and are part of its history. In 1981 after the New Cross fire took place, the historically neglected Black British community reacted to the years of forgetting on the part of mainstream Britain. After the fire, on the 2nd of March 1981, the Black People’s Day of Action march took place. It was an 8-hour long march starting in New Cross and finishing in Hyde Park via Fleet Street – a metonym for the British National Press. This peaceful march led by Black Britain disrupted with their chants the silent London or mainstream London with many of the city’s landmarks as a background.

Therefore, this paper aims at exploring ‘the other’ London, the London that is not so easily accessible or overt and that is not the one which mainstream cinema or TV would deal with. In other words, this paper will deal with how the Black British community, living in ‘hidden London’ as ‘the other’ gained voice following the march of the Black People’s Day of Action by referring to what this day signifies for the community with London as a background. This objective will be achieved by using Menelik Shabazz’s documentary Blood Ah Go Run (1982) as a tool of analysis where images and video footage from the day of the march are present. The first section of this paper will provide a context for the Black People’s Day of Action concerning the importance of this happening for the memory and struggle of black Britain showing London as linked to a community or identity, Black Britishness. Then, in the following section, the streets of London where the march happened will be described and analysed as an example of ‘the trauma of the streets’ with the aim of, as Guha states, “chart a certain imaginary of the city in relation to another kind of figure, the Caribbean migrant or settler, arriving in Britain at the end of the Empire” (2009). In the final section, it will be argued how this march opened up a space for a hidden part of a London community in the city taking into account the events that followed the march such as the 1981 uprisings and the institutional response to it given that after the uprisings numerous Workshops made up of Afro-British filmmakers such as Ceddo, Sankofa or BAFC were established and managed to set the record straight and challenge the traditional representation of their communities, showing and recording in this way London from the point of view of ‘the other’.

María Piqueras Pérez is a PhD candidate from the University of Murcia (Spain). She is a recipient of a SENECA Foundation doctoral grant, given by the regional office of Murcia for the promotion of science – including the human sciences – and technology. In 2018 she graduated in English Studies at the University of Murcia with an extraordinary end-of-degree award. In 2019 she earned a Master’s degree on teaching English as a foreign language at the same University together with an award from the Rotary Club of Murcia given to talented Master’s degree students. María’s current line of research is focused on the Afro-British audiovisual culture from the Thatcher era to the end of the century as explored through memory, identity, time and the avant-garde. She’s specifically focusing on the production of independent black filmmakers belonging to groups such as The Black Audio Film Collective (BAFC), Sankofa and Ceddo. Some of her research interests range from cultural studies, diaspora studies, memory, identity and post-colonialism to film studies, space studies and (experimental) art. She has been a speaker at several international conferences. She has also been a visiting researcher at the University of Westminster (London) from September 2021 to January 2022. She is part of the research project Queer Temporalities in Contemporary Anglophone Cultures (Literature, Cinema, and Video Games) funded by the Spanish National Research Agency at the University of Murcia.

Constructing London on Screen: Pinter, Places and Power
James A. Jarrett

Harold Pinter was one of the most celebrated playwrights of the twentieth century, iconic and lionised for his many great, visionary dramas, including The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, and No Man’s Land. As a dramatist he was famous for his idiosyncratic ‘Absurdist’ style, so called because his works seemed to contradict the playwriting conventions of their day. Unlike the ‘angry young men’ of The Royal Court, Pinter’s plays did not express his political views or the de- rigueur polemics of the fashionable left-wing zeitgeist: he purported that he wrote for no purpose other than to explore and articulate his own peculiar, and frighteningly bleak, vision of the world. Moreover: Pinter’s obsessive preoccupation with the corruption of language, as well as the misuse of authority and brute power ‘uncover[ed] the precipice under everyday prattle and force[d] entry into oppression’s closed rooms’ (2005: Nobel Prize in Literature).

Pinter was born in London, and he lived in the city all his life, apart from a brief period residing in the seaside town of Worthing. As Peter Raby has pointed out, ‘Pinter is, among other things, the dramatist of the city, and specifically, of London’ (Raby, 61), and many of his most celebrated works were set in the capital. Even in his dramas situated in other places or locales, the charismatic pull of the capital is present. Those who are not in London have often escaped from the city and are in exile; those who are in London often betray deeply disturbed and ambivalent feelings about living in such a human jungle. This paper at the TV Londons conference will examine how the many faces of London are represented, imagined, and re-imagined in the screen productions of Pinter plays, exploring how directors convey and express Pinter’s changing vision of the city and its power dynamics through the subtle interplay language, frame, performance, music, and sound.

Raby, P. (ed). 2001. The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dr James A. Jarrett was educated at De Montfort University, Cardiff University and at the University of Essex, where he was awarded a master’s degree and a PhD for a thesis in contemporary theatre and psychoanalysis under the supervision of the playwright Jonathan Lichtenstein. Dr Jarrett worked as a performer, before returning to education to lecture in theatre and the performing arts. He has taught at the University of Essex and at University Centre Colchester, where he was the first programme director of the innovative Bachelor of Arts honours degree programme in acting.

Dr Jarrett is an expert on Harold Pinter, and has presented papers on theatre, performance, acting, film, and culture to conferences at University College London, and at Essex, Bristol, Middlesex, and Leeds Universities. His latest publications include essays in George Orwell Studies, The Pinter Review and Performing Ethos. He is currently preparing articles for publication in Contemporary Theatre Review as well as a range of research as practice projects.

11.20-11.35 Break

11.35-12.55 Panel 2 – London from Abroad

Diaspora representations of London in the Polish TV series “Londoners”
Alicja Kisielewska

The object of reflection in my paper will be London as a place where the young Polish immigrants started to settle in the first decade of the twenty-first century. I will take a closer look at the representations of London on the Polish television, based on a very popular drama series Londyńczycy (Londoners) aired on public television (TVP1, 2008-2009, 2 series). The drama was also broadcast on public television in Sweden and Latvia. I will discuss the “London discourse” of the series, that is the sets of drama locations selected by the creators of the TV series to reflect the immigrant mapping of London. The story about London as a significant place in the lives of TV series characters is made up of narratives focused around such spaces as Soho, Ealing, City, Canary Wharf and the West End. I will try to demonstrate how the choice of locations and architectural sites presented in the drama series is used to represent London, which has been a sort of “promised land” for the Polish immigrants. This will allow me to consider how London as a space and place has an effect on creating the cultural identity of characters, and at the same time the cultural identity of the Polish diaspora in London. Moreover, the presented conclusions will be a contribution to a broader analysis of the modes of representing London in television content produced outside Britain.

Alicja Kisielewska, PhD is an associate professor at the University of Białystok (Poland), director of the University’s Institute of Cultural Studies, and an expert in media and culture. Her work involves media anthropology and semiotics. She is the author of the following monographs: Film w twórczości Andrzeja Struga [Film in Andrzej Strug’s Works] (Białystok 1998), Polskie tele-sagi – mitologie rodzinności [Polish Tele-Sagas—Mythologies of Family] (Kraków 2009), and Antropologia telewizji. Telewizja w życiu codziennym w Polsce [The Anthropology of Television: The Television in Polish Daily Life] (Białystok 2021).

"Now I'm Ready to Conquer the World!" Intercultural Dialogism, Contested Epistemologies and Multiple Londons in the Israeli sitcom Pini
Gilad Padva, Tel Aviv University

London has been depicted extensively on Israeli television, cinema, literature, journalism and pop music, in part due to its centrality in Israeli travelling prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the popularity of the English language in globalized Israel and its impact on modern Hebrew, the mythicized English manners and politeness, the alluring British Royalty, and nostalgic memorization of the 1917-1947 British Mandate in Palestine. This research initially analyzes the Israeli sitcom Pini (2010) that centers on a young bearish Israeli cook who clumsily paves his way in London's culinary scene, maintaining a hilariously failed intercultural friendship with his refined Welsh male flatmate, and gauchely developing a romantic relationship with the roommate's beautiful French cousin. This series hyper-stereotypically formulates the Israeli protagonist as an uneducated, unsophisticated, unreverent and vulgarly straightforward young man. In contrast, the Londoners are depicted on this screen as mostly refined, civilized, polite and organized yet uncreative, conventional and boring persons. Pini's London is screened primarily as a ludicrously naïve playground that the Israeli protagonist forces himself upon it with his vulgar machismo and, particularly, his awkward literal translation of Hebrew slang expressions to English. Concomitantly, Pini’s London is iconized, beautified, parodied, ironized and mocked through Pini's and the presumed Israeli audience’s stereotyping eyes. The comic intercultural dialogism between the Israeli protagonist and his British roommate is located in their typical middle-class apartment in a red-brick building by the canal as well as in London's spacious parks, Russell Square, bars and galleries. The series’ episodes are interspersed with shots of Camden market, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and other sites that address London's iconic status in the Israeli viewers' mind. Thus, Pini presents a dynamic dialog between London's iconicity and mundanity, symbolism and everydayness, domesticity and urbanity, subtleties and bluntness, structuredness and exuberance, multiculturalism and interethnic tensions. This televisual description of London as a Babylonian cultural arena is based on comically failed dialogism and grotesque interrelations between contested cultures, masculinities, epistemologies, aesthetics and ethics. The comic interactions between the London residents in Pini echo Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of dialogism based on the primacy of the social, and Bakhtin's assumption that all meaning is achieved by interpersonal and intercultural struggles. Yet Pini's dialogism is ultimately an epistemology founded on loopholes that endlessly yield grotesque failures with surprising consequences. Concomitantly, Pini’s dialogism is an epistemological framework for multiplied, heterogenous sociocultural Londons with their own semiotics, cognitions, communications, discourses, and consciousness. Notably, Pini embodies multiplied heterotopias. Whereas the main cultural divide in Pini is between the lowlife Israeli cook and the civilized London locals, the city is also shown through the eyes of black Britons as well as the white French cousin of Pini's roommate. Every one of them lives in her/his own London, in a way, which is characterized by different emotional landscapes, imageries, peculiarities, style and aesthetics. This sitcom features contested Londons which are constructed according to each character's ethnic, racial, social and cultural background and represents a different kind of a London state of mind.

Dr Gilad Padva is a scholar and lecturer in cultural studies, film and television studies, men's studies and queer theory. He has published the books Straight Skin, Gay Masks and Pretending to Be Gay on Screen (2020) and Queer Nostalgia in Cinema and Pop Culture (2014), and he co-edited international volumes: Sensational Pleasures in Cinema, Literature and Visual Culture: The Phallic Eye (2014), Intimate Relationships in Cinema, Literature and Visual Culture (2017), and Leisure and Cultural Change in Israeli Society (2020). He published numerous essays in peer-reviewed journals, e.g. Cinema Journal, Social Semiotics, Feminist Media Studies, Sexualities and Film Criticism. He also wrote chapters for edited volumes, e.g. Israeli Television: Global Contexts, Local Visions, Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion, Corporeal Inscriptions: Representations of the Body in Cultural and Literary Texts and Practices, and Cinematic Queerness: Gay and Lesbian Hypervisibility in Contemporary Francophone Feature Films. He wrote about Youth and Educators in Films for Youth, Education, and Sexualities: An International Encyclopedia (2005); he wrote entries about Gregg Araki, Simcha Sandi Dubowski, Harey Forbes Fierstein, Eytan Fox, Amos Guttman, Keith Haring, queer filmmaking in Israel, Pierre et Gilles, sissy, and Rose Troche for the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Queer Culture: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual Contemporary Cultures (2005); he wrote about Dress, Fashion and Clothing in Routledge International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities (2007); and he wrote about Cinema for The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality through History (2008). Dr. Gilad Padva currently works for the Women and Gender Studies Programme at Tel Aviv University, Israel, where he teaches a course about men and masculinities in popular media. He also works for the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ruppin Academic Centre where he teaches a course about sexual and gender identities in popular culture and a course about media and communication studies.

‘At this Wembley. The One that Freddie Mercury Never Stepped Foot In’ – Ted Lasso’s London
Sabrina Mittermeier
Unfortunately, Dr. Mittermeier is no longer able to attend the conference.

The Apple+ dramedy Ted Lasso (2020-) centers on the fictional Premier League football club A.F.C. Richmond and its American coach, the titular Ted Lasso. It thus zooms in on an integral part of British culture, showing us football stadiums, locker rooms, fans watching in pubs, pundits on TV. A consciousness of class and race intersects it all, moving from the working-class background of fans, but also star players, to the upper-class lives they lead now, particularly focusing on masculinities and father-son dynamics as they play out in a contemporary UK. The show anchors it all in a London that often blurs real-life and fiction: the British-American writers’ room and crew constantly cite other texts of popular culture, not just in dialogue, but also in cinematography and the show’s soundtrack. Richard Curtis’s work looms particularly large, such as in the second season’s Love Actually (2003)-inspired Christmas episode, but also in an overall consciousness of rom-com tradition(s) that borrow from film cultures on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ted Lasso films on set in the local West London Film Studios and on location in Richmond, tapping into a more authentic Britain, but also using more stereotypically London signifiers to translate to the American, and international, audience: the red phone booth in Richmond, Tower Bridge in the show’s pilot, Wembley Stadium in a key episode. Ted as a titular character often serves as the lens to introduce the audience to London and the English, a fish out of water in a country more foreign to him than expected.

As the show has become a pandemic success story, it also has turned Richmond into a site of fan tourism, adding another layer to the relevance of London as a location. My paper wants to explore the ways Ted Lasso uses London strategically to portray British culture(s) to a variety of audiences, using the tools of television and fan (tourism) studies.

Dr Sabrina Mittermeier is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in British and North American History at the University of Kassel, Germany. She is the author of A Cultural History of the Disneyland Theme Parks – Middle-Class Kingdoms (Intellect/U Chicago P 2021), the (co-)editor of Fighting for the Future – Essays on Star Trek: Discovery (Liverpool UP 2020), The Routledge Handbook of Star Trek (2022), and Fan Phenomena: Disney (2022). Her research on theme parks, fan tourism, film and television has also been published in several volumes and journals, such as the Journal of Popular Culture, Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture, and Science Fiction Film and Television. She’s currently working on a second book on “Unmade Queer Television” and plans on hosting a podcast on the television series Ted Lasso in 2022.

12.55-2.00 – Lunch

2.00-3.20 Panel 3 – Heritage Londons

Ripp[er]ed from the Headlines? Ripper Street’s Multicultural London
Melissa Beattie [TEAMS]

‘The world comes to London and London becomes the world’ (4.6). So says occasional antagonist Inspector Constantine of the Special Branch, in a most unhappy tone. Series protagonists Reid, Drake and expatriate of postcolonial-America Jackson, however, often express tolerance and inclusiveness with regard to the denizens of their multicultural Whitechapel. Though there has been some work on the series such as Weissmann (2014) on the series’ transnational aesthetics, Williams (2016) on the series as Gothic crime drama the primary foci have been on class (Babilas 2017) and gender representation (Meldrum 2015) the series’ portrayal of a complicated, postcolonial and multicultural London that is both corrupter and corrupt during the late nineteenth century has not been an explicit focus. In this paper, I shall analyse how this portrayal intersects with contemporary British discourses surrounding its colonial history, immigration and multiculturalism. Ireland, then part of the British Empire, and the London Irish are main foci of the series (which was shot in Ireland), as are Jewish and Romany refugees; Hong Kong and the British Raj and their positions within the Empire are also addressed in episodes with specific allegories to contemporary events (e.g., escalating anti-immigrant and Islamophobic sentiment in the time of and subsequent to Brexit, e.g., Nowicka 2018, Creighton and Jamal 2020).

Though the series’ pro-multiculturalism stance is clear – and can be tied to the BBC as a public service broadcaster (PSB) – this does not mean that the portrayals are not problematic. In particular, the connection of Chinese immigrants with opium and the complexities surrounding (Northern) Irish arms dealer and anti-imperialist Theodore Swift shall be analysed. Also to be discussed (and building to some degree on Weissmann 2014) is the position of the US as represented by Captain Jackson (as well as occasional guest characters). Though one can argue that his presence is both an industrial (cf Weissmann 2012, 2014 and Hilmes 2014, inter multa alia on international co-productions) and textual necessity – i.e., an early mislead, as two Americans, one a doctor, were suspected of being Jack the Ripper (Begg 2013) – the character being continually referred to by nationality rather than by name and often as a possession of Inspectors Reid and/or Drake can be read as reinforcing not just a ‘special relationship’ but also the US’s complicated status as an early postcolonial state.

Babilas, D. (2017). ‘Edmund Reid and the Representation of the Middle Class in Ripper Street,’ in L. Krawczyk-Żywko (ed.), Victorian Detectives in Contemporary Culture: Beyond Sherlock Holmes. Houndmills: Palgrave. 43-56.
Begg, P. (2013). Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History. London: Routledge.
Creighton, M.J. & Jamal, A.A. (2020). ‘An Overstated Welcome: Brexit and Intentionally Masked Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in the UK,’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1-22.
Hilmes, M. (2014). 'Transnational TV: What Do We Mean by “Co-Production,” Anymore?' Media Industries Journal. Vol 2.
Meldrum, C. (2015). ‘Yesterday's Women: The Female Presence in NeoVictorian Television Detective Programs,’ Journal of Popular Film and Television, 43:4, 201-211.
Nowicka, M. (2018) ‘Cultural Precarity: Migrants’ Positionalities in the Light of Current Anti-immigrant Populism in Europe,’ Journal of Intercultural Studies, 39:5, 527-542.
Weissmann, E. (2012). Transnational Television Drama: Special Relations and Mutual Influence Between the US and UK. Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan.
Weissmann, E. (2014). ‘Exploring the Wild, Wild East,’ in S. Eichner (ed.), Fernsehen: Europaeische Perspektiven. Festschrift Prof. Dr. Lothar Mikos, Konstanz und Muenchen: UVK, 107-120.
Williams, R. (2016). ‘Walking Whitechapel: Ripper Street, Whitechapel, and Place in the Gothic Crime Drama,’ in R. McElroy (ed), Contemporary British Television Crime Drama. London: Routledge.

Dr Melissa Beattie was awarded a PhD in Theatre, Film and TV Studies from Aberystwyth University where she studied Torchwood and national identity through fan/audience research as well as textual analysis. She has published and presented several papers relating to transnational television, audience research and/or national identity. She has worked at universities in the US, Korea, Pakistan and Armenia. She can be contacted at

Invisible Design: Invention & Emotion in The Crown
Jane Barnwell

The Crown tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, showing the personal and political dramas behind the scenes. The show stitches together a portfolio of locations and set builds to create the illusion of a coherent world. In reality Buckingham Palace is quite fragmented whereas the design for the show creates a continuity of space that helps generate a coherent grammar so that the world becomes one. The production designer Martin Childs says,

‘My sets look as much like the real thing as Claire Foy looks like the Queen. I always want my work not to be visible but to be inevitable so that the audience looks at it and accepts it without question. Part of that is keeping tied together several different locations.’
(Author interview, 2019)

Childs says the concepts evolve with each block as there are four different directors every season who have a different vision while respecting what has already been established. Using biography, history, film and a bit of emotional research Childs attempts to ‘get to the truth that is other than the facts’. For example, the Royal couple’s Buckingham Palace bedroom constructs a central motif for the show in the deliberate choice of architecture, that utilises an enfilade design rather than that of more regular corridors. A subtle sense of distance is achieved while also connecting the two adjoining rooms through doorways. The absence of Philip when he is on tour becomes a presence in the bedrooms, the doors are open and we can see his empty bed. The personal moments that take place in private spaces elegantly convey the narrative through settings that appear to live and breathe.

Childs takes real life and gently adjusts it according to the character and narrative development required for the show. Usually, a character’s domestic setting reveals personality, however in this instance there is a disconnect between the Queen and her home. The design works to indicate the lack of self-expression available to the Queen as she becomes part of the establishment. She inherits her father, the King’s bedroom for example (in season 1) which is architecturally unchanged but painted pink rather than blue as a nod to feminising a room that used to smell of cigar and cigarette smoke according to Childs. Thus, although superficial surface decoration is altered to accommodate the newcomer the fundamental structure remains intact echoing the immutability of the establishment.

Dr Jane Barnwell is Reader in Moving Image at the University of Westminster. Graduating from Leeds University and The Northern Film School she began her career at the BBC, before working freelance in production. She has worked on the ideation and production of film and cultural events in a range of venues including, the V&A, the Museum of London, BAFTA, Regent Street Cinema, Truman Brewery, the Women’s Library, ICA, Rich Mix and the Unicorn Theatre.

Jane has published articles for journals and periodicals including, The Guardian, The Scenographer, International Journal of Production & Costume Design, Journal of British Cinema and Television, The Conversation, Widescreen and The Production Designers Collective. She has authored books including Production Design for Screen; Visual Storytelling in Film and TV (2017, Bloomsbury), Production Design: Architects of the screen (2004, Columbia University Press) and The Fundamentals of Film Making (2008, AVA publishing). Jane’s latest publication explores the significance of the design of the home on screen, Production Design & the Cinematic Home, Palgrave Macmillan, 2022.

The Architecture of Misfits, Top Boys & Bodyguards: Exploring the Significance of London’s Brutalist Architecture in Twenty-First Century British Television
Jonny Smith

This paper will examine representations of Brutalism, a post-war architecture defined by exposed rough concrete and bold, confrontational forms, in relation to London-set twenty-first century British television. Despite falling out of favour during the 1980s with the advent of neoliberal Thatcherite politics and a shift to Postmodernist architectural styles, Brutalism has enjoyed a renaissance in Britain over the past twenty years as a source of cultural fascination. During this period Brutalism has become a significant presence in British screen culture, particularly on television through such programmes as Misfits (2009-2013), Top Boy (2011-), The Bodyguard (2018), Save Me (2018-2020), The Informer (2018), Angela Black (2021) and The Tower (2021). Crucially all these productions are situated within London which highlights the symbiotic relationship Brutalism has with the Capital in simultaneously constructing both as on-screen entities.

This paper will then examine the contours of this relationship between Brutalism and London in British television, building on Charlotte Brunsdon’s research into the ‘construction of place-that-is-London’ on-screen (2007: 8) as well as the ‘hegemonic discourse of location’ that is London (23). This paper will argue there are three consistent trends that have come to define this relationship. Firstly, that Brutalism’s recent television appearances, predominantly in the form of housing estates, are reflective of wider cultural trends whereby the architectural style functions as a ‘environmentally deterministic’ (Nwonka, 2017) reassurance to neoliberal politics – often reinforcing notions of inherent criminality within a racial and working-class homogeneity. Secondly, that Brutalism has grown to become a shorthand space for visually identifying London on-screen – a new ‘landmark London’ – which brings its own voyeuristic pleasure as a space of ‘the other’ and as a sought-after private commodity. Finally, the paper will examine how fantasy-comedy Misfits and drama-thriller Save Me challenge Brutalism’s negative, deterministic conception under neoliberal politics by entertaining fantastical, communal and collective possibilities within the architectural space. This paper then finds Brutalism as not just crucial architectural space in visualising London on-screen, but central to narrative explorations of race, social exclusion, class and housing policy in British television.

Brunsdon, C. (2007), London in Cinema: The Cinematic City Since 1945, London, BFI.

Jonny Smith is currently a researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Manchester, where in April he completed his AHRC funded PhD in Film Studies. His thesis, titled ‘Nasty, Brutish & Tall: The Utilisation & Representation of Brutalist Architecture in British Cinema Post 1970’, builds on a broader interest in British Cinema, representations of place and architecture, as well as their intersection with issues of class, power and national identity

3.20-3.40 – Break and Refreshments

3.40-4.40 – Industry Panel

Nathaniel J Hall
Nathaniel Hall is an award-winning actor, writer and HIV activist, known for his HIV stigma-smashing solo-show First Time about his experience of growing up HIV+ after diagnosis at 16. First Time has enjoyed audience and critical success alike and Nathaniel’s story has reached millions through broadcast, media and print. Nathaniel appeared as Donald Bassett in It’s A Sin, the hit C4 drama about HIV/AIDS in 1980s Britain. His community-led creative activism has been covered extensively by the UK’s media including Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, Channel 4 News, BBC News and BBC Breakfast. He is Co-Artistic Director of Dibby Theatre, an award-winning LGBTQ-led theatre company from Manchester. Nathaniel's next show is called Toxic and will premiere in Manchester in 2023 before touring the UK.

June Hudson
June Hudson is a designer, artist, teacher and actress who has worked extensively as a costume designer for film and television. June started her career as a costume designer at ATV Studios, moving to the BBC in the mid-1960s. At the BBC, she was responsible for programmes as diverse as Are You Being Served (1972-1985), Blake’s 7 (1978-1981) and many costume dramas including Dickens and Shakespeare adaptations. June was principal costume designer during the development of EastEnders (1985-present) and had the task of setting up an entire new wardrobe department at BBC Elstree and establishing the look of the show’s extensive cast of characters. More recently June has moved into teaching, as Lossett Visiting Scholar at the University of Redlands in California.

Lindsay Siviter
Lindsay is an historical researcher, consultant and London tour guide who has worked extensively in museums and archives in London including for several years in The Crime Museum, New Scotland Yard. As a freelance historical researcher and consultant she has assisted on many projects, having written and contributed to books and articles on a variety of subjects from Egyptology to Espionage. As an historical adviser and consultant to many companies including the Museum of London and the BBC, she has also appeared in over twenty television documentaries globally on Jack the Ripper and continues to be invited to work on true crime projects. She is also the owner of the Siviter True Crime Library and Archive, which contains around 5000 true crime books, journals, documents, research papers, audio visual material and relics connected to true crime cases.

4.40-5.00 – Closing Remarks

5.00-7.00 – Joint Book Launch

Chris Hogg, Adapting Television Drama: Theory & Industry (Palgrave, 2021)
Jane Barnwell, Production Design & the Cinematic Home (Palgrave, 2022)

This page was first published to the internet 18 August 2022.