The director in television's ‘studio system’

Alan Clarke

in Alan Clarke

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780719068300
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702987 | DOI:
The director in television's ‘studio system’

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This chapter explores Alan Clarke's emergence as a director in a writer's medium. It begins with a sketch of his background and early theatre work, comparing these with the backgrounds of others of his generation to establish the social contexts that shaped Clarke's thematic concerns and the television landscape around him. Subsequently, the chapter traces his developing technique by looking at several plays that he made for ITV in the 1960s and the BBC in the early 1970s. Furthermore, it examines the extent to which the distinctiveness of Clarke's work is restricted by the institutional expectation that directors ‘serve’ the scripts of a variety of writers. His work features emerging signs of thematic and stylistic continuities, including a concern with the representative capacity of form in the telling of his protagonists' stories. The chapter concludes with the example of Penda's Fen, which was described by W. Stephen Gilbert (1990) as ‘one of the most remarkable achievements in all television drama’.

Keywords: television landscape; television drama; scripts; writers; theatre work

Chapter.  21373 words. 

Subjects: Television

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