Creating ‘Quality’ Audiences for <i>ER</i> on Channel Four

Janet Mccabe

in The Contemporary Television Series

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780748619009
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671168 | DOI:
Creating ‘Quality’ Audiences for ER on Channel Four

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Despite Channel 4's past success with imported American programming, Steve Clarke wondered how viewers in the United Kingdom would react to its acquisition of ER (NBC, 1994–2009), when first transmitted on British terrestrial television in February 1995. Even at the beginning of series seven, shown first on Channel 4's new pay-TV entertainment digital channel E4 in January 2001, reviewers still expressed concerns that new viewers would find its frenetic pace and dense plotting an unnerving experience. Despite reservations, ER was dubbed ‘must-see TV’ from the start. This chapter investigates how Channel 4 imagined its audience as it repositioned ER into the British television flow. The point here is that ER emerged as a distinctive quality televisual product within the abundant and highly competitive television flow precisely because it was contained and represented by institutional frameworks that said that this is what it is.

Keywords: ER; audience; quality; United Kingdom; Channel 4

Chapter.  7244 words. 

Subjects: Television

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