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Paranoid visions

Spies, conspiracies and the secret state in British television drama

By Joseph Oldham

Paranoid visions

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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9415-0
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: June 2017
  • BIC Category: Literary studies: general, Espionage & secret services, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Theatre Studies, Television, Media studies, Society & social sciences / Media studies, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: general, Society & social sciences / Espionage & secret services, The arts / Television, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / History & Criticism

Description

Paranoid visions explores the history of the spy and conspiracy genres on British television, from 1960s Cold War series through 1980s conspiracy dramas to contemporary 'war on terror' thrillers. It analyses classic dramas including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Edge of Darkness, A Very British Coup and Spooks. This book will be an invaluable resource for television scholars interested in a new perspective on the history of television drama and intelligence scholars seeking an analysis of the popular representation of espionage with a strong political focus, as well as fans of cult British television and general readers interested in British cultural history.

Reviews

'Jo Oldham's very readable book explores two of the most popular, but relatively neglected, forms of television drama: the spy drama and the conspiracy thriller. Generically related but epistemologically distinct, the changing nature of the two forms and the waxing and waning of their appearance on British television screens has much to do with the historical context of their production, as Oldham illustrates very well in a diachronic study [.] Such changes may not bode well for the radical potential of spy and conspiracy drama to stir things up in the future but it is to Oldham's credit that his well-researched and persuasively argued book makes us want to revisit some of the key 'paranoid narratives' of the last 50 years'
Lez Cooke, Royal Holloway, University of London, Critical Studies in Television, Vol. 13, No. 4 (December 2018)

Author

Joseph Oldham is Associate Fellow in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick

Contents

Introduction
1 'A balance of terror': Callan (ITV, 1967-72) as an existential thriller for television
2 'A professional's contest': procedure and bureaucracy in Special Branch (ITV, 1969-74) and The Sandbaggers (ITV, 1978-80)
3 'Who killed Great Britain?': Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (BBC 2, 1979) as a modern classic serial
4 Conspiracy as a crisis of procedure in Bird of Prey (BBC 1, 1982) and Edge of Darkness (BBC 2, 1985)
5 Death of a master narrative: the battle for consensus in A Very British Coup (Channel 4, 1988)
6 The precinct is political: espionage as a public service in Spooks (BBC 1, 2002-11)
Conclusion
Index

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