Friday, October 16, 2009

Radical TV Drama Before and During Thatcher

An upcoming season of screenings at BFI Southbank will examine "how 'Radical' drama has explored the divisions in British society since the 1960s and responded to the Thatcherite revolution." The films to be screened include Made In Britain (above) written by David Leland.

Thanks to a special arrangement with the BFI, Guild members will be entitled to purchase tickets for films at for £6.25 rather than the normal non-member rate £9.00.

The season is being run in collaboration with the Department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London and with the support from the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange.

Part One of the season, which runs throughout November, offers a chance to see the very best in radical drama across three decades before and during the Thatcher years, and to assess the impact the Thatcher government had on television drama. November highlights include a focus on some of the early productions of the 60s by Ken Loach, Tony Garnett, and Dennis Potter, finishing in the mid 80s with works by Stephen Poliakoff and Alan Bleasdale and culminating in the debate TV Sold to the Highest Bidder - Thatcher’s Television Revolution, a panel discussion focusing on how Thatcher changed the television industry and the consequences for radical TV drama.

On the panel will be Michael Grade, Tony Garnett, David Rose and Alasdair Milne, all of whom experienced at first hand the changes the Thatcher government imposed on broadcasters, particularly with regards to perceived hostility to the BBC and the restructure of the ITV franchises.

There will also be an illustrated lecture in November, with film and television historian John Hill considering how television drama responded to the industrial conflicts of the late 1960s and early 1970s – through an examination of The Big Flame and Leeds United!

The season continues in December (United Kingdom! Part 2: Radical TV Drama, Thatcher and Beyond) by looking at Thatcher’s legacy and the way television drama responded to Britain at war (The Falklands Play and Tumbledown).

It moves on to examine the mistrust and cynicism engendered by the reaction to New Labour and the sense of betrayal as evidenced in The Deal and The Government Inspector.

One of the highlights of December will be After Thatcher: The New Radical Drama, a panel discussion examining the response of radical dramatists to the rise of New Labour and the changing definition of what it means to be a “radical” TV dramatist now.

On the panel will be writer Paul Abbott, director Peter Kosminsky, Head of Drama Channel 4 Liza Marshall, Producer Kenith Trodd, and the writer/creator of Skins, Brian Elsley. Many screenings will include talks by writers, producers and directors such as Ken Trodd, Colin Welland, Peter Flannery and Margaret Matheson.

The Festival runs through November and December. Full details are on the BFI Southbank website.

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