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Experimental British television

Experimental British television

Mulvey, Laura, editor; Sexton, Jane, editor

The first academic study to focus on experimental British television. Uncovers the history of experimental television, bringing back forgotten programmes and places the aesthetics of experimentation within historical contexts. The book also examines the importance of the changing technologies on British television

Paperback, Book. English.
Published Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015
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Available: Newton Park

  • Newton Park – One available in Main Collection 791.456/MUL

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Statement of responsibility: edited by Laura Mulvey and Jamie Sexton
ISBN: 0719075556, 9780719075551
Intended audience: Specialized.
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: 230 pages ; 24 cm
Subject: Television; Performing Arts.; Television Aesthetics.; Television programs Great Britain History.


  1. Introduction: Experimental British television – Laura Mulvey
  2. 1. ‘Creative in its own right’: The Langham Group and the search for a new television drama – John Hill
  3. 2. ‘And now for your Sunday night experimental drama…’ Experimentation and armchair theatre – Helen Wheatley
  4. 3. A ‘New Drama for Television’?: Diary of a young man – John Hill
  5. 4. ‘The very new can only come from the very old’: Ken Russell, national culture and the possibility of experimental television at the BBC in the 1960s – Kay Dickinson
  6. 5. From art to avant-garde? television, formalism and the arts documentary in 1960s Britain – Jamie Sexton
  7. 6. An experiment in television drama: John McGrath’s The Adventures of Frank – Lez Cooke
  8. 7. Don’t fence me in: The Singing Detective and the synchronicity of indeterminacy – Catrin Prys
  9. 8. Visions: a Channel 4 experiment 1982–5 – John Ellis
  10. 9. Experimenting on air: UK artists' film on television – A.L. Rees
  11. 10. Experimental music television – K.J. Donnelly
  12. 11. ‘Yes, it’s War!’: Chris Morris and the boundaries of comic acceptability – Brett Mills
  13. Index

Author note

Laura Mulvey is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. Jamie Sexton is Lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth


Throughout its history, British television has found a place, if only in its margins, for programmes that consciously worked to expand the boundaries of television aesthetics. Even in the present climate of increased academic interest in television history, its experimental tradition has generally either been approached generically or been lost within the assumption that television is simply a mass medium. Experimental British television uncovers the history of experimental television, bringing back forgotten programmes in addition to looking at relatively more privileged artists or programme strands from fresh perspectives. The book therefore goes against the grain of dominant television studies, which tends to place the medium within the flow of the ‘everyday’, in order to scrutinise those productions that attempted to make more serious interventions within the medium.