‘Opening up the Fourth Front’: Micro Drama and the Rejection of Naturalism

Troy Kennedy Martin

in Television Policy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780748617173
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671113 | DOI:
‘Opening up the Fourth Front’: Micro Drama and the Rejection of Naturalism

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In this lecture, the author, a television screenwriter, director and producer who created the television series Z Cars (1962–1965), picks up the cudgels first wielded by John McGrath a decade earlier in his ‘swingeing attack on naturalism’. The author proposes to open up a ‘fourth front’ alongside plays, series and serials, which would deal with ‘micro drama’ composed of ‘dozens of fragments of drama, shards of experience made and put out very quickly’. Micro drama should embrace three key elements of advertising commercials which contrast sharply with television drama. First, ad copywriters condense information while playwrights tend to expand it. Second, in television drama the budget contracts with the length of the piece but in adverts there is no necessary connection between cost and duration. Finally, adverts reinforce their message through repetition whereas in television drama a repeat is a failure to provide something new. The author argues that micro dramas should employ similar styles ‘in which time itself is altered and naturalism goes out of the window’.

Keywords: naturalism; fourth front; micro drama; television drama; advertising; repetition; plays; copywriters; budget

Chapter.  3580 words. 

Subjects: Television

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