State of play

Contemporary 'high-end' TV drama

By Robin Nelson

State of play


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7311-3
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: November 2007
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Television, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / History & Criticism, Society & social sciences / Popular culture, The arts / Television


Robin Nelson's State of play up-dates and develops the arguments of his influential TV Drama In Transition (1997). It is equally distinctive in setting analusis of the aesethetics and compositional principles of texts within a broad conceptual framework (technologies, institutions, economics, cultural trends). Tracing "the great value shift from conduit to content" (Todreas, 1999), Nelson is relatively optimistic about the future quality of TV Drama in a global market-place. But, characteristically taking up questions of worth where others have avoided them, Nelson recognizes that certain types of "quality" are privileged for viewers able to pay, possibly at the expense of viewer preference worldwide for "local" resonances in television. The mix of arts and cultural studies methodologies makes for an unusual and insightful approach.


1. Mapping the territory; blurring the boundaries
2. Distinctive product: three kinds of quality: The Sopranos, Shooting the Past, Shameless
3. State of Play: the TV drama industry - new rules of the game
4. Pushing the envelope: 'edgy' TV drama, Sex and The City, Queer as Folk, Carnivàle
5. Techniques, technologies and cultural form
6. Between global and national: 24 and Spooks; Oz and Buried
7. 'Quality TV' in context
8. Singularity sustained: Casanova, Blackpool, State of Play


Robin Nelson is Professor of Theatre and TV Drama in the Department of Contemporary Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University

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