The changing spaces of television acting

From studio realism to location realism in BBC television drama

By Richard Hewett

The changing spaces of television acting


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  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9298-9
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: August 2017
  • BIC Category: Media studies, Acting techniques, DRAMA / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / General, Society & social sciences / Media studies, Television Studies, Television, Acting Techniques, The arts / Television


This book provides a historical overview and then-and-now comparison of performing for British television drama. By examining changing acting styles from distinct eras of television production - studio realism and location realism - it makes a unique contribution to both television and performance studies, unpacking the various determinants that have combined to influence how performers work in the medium. The book compares the original versions of The Quatermass Experiment(BBC, 1953), Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-89) and Survivors (BBC, 1975-77) with their respective modern-day re-makes, unpacking the effects of the shift from multi-camera studio to single-camera location production. Textual analysis is combined with extensive archival research into production process and reception, alongside interviews with numerous actors and production personnel from more than sixty years of television production.


'Hewett is interested in acting within the context of other practices and developments, such as directing, production practices, technology and actor training [.] Each chapter is given over to a particular production practice - studio realism and location realism - and approached with a broadly common set of questions and a specific example to anchor the wider argument [.] The validity of this approach is confirmed by the illuminating and detailed textual analysis that is at the heart of each chapter, which is used not to elucidate the narrative but to concretise the arguments made about space, the variety of actors' approaches and training and directorial and production practices.'
Stephen Lacey, University of South Wales, Critical Studies in Television, Vol. 13, No. 4 (December 2018)

'Covering a fantastic range of BBC TV science fiction, Hewett innovatively traces different modes of "realism" in much-loved original shows and their remakes/continuations. Tackling the likes of Doctor Who, The Quatermass Experiment and Survivors, The changing spaces of television acting smartly spearheads emergent work on TV performance. Based on archival research and new interviews with key producers, actors and writers, this is a must-read, must-own title for anyone interested in telefantasy.'
Matt Hills, Professor of Journalism and Media, University of Huddersfield


1 Scaling down in early studio realism
2 Refining studio realism
3 The genesis of location realism
4 The age of location realism
5 The return of studio realism?


Richard Hewett is Lecturer in Media Theory at the University of Salford

The changing spaces of television acting

By Richard Hewett

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

Paperback £21.00 / $30.95

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