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Popular television in authoritarian Europe$
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Peter Goddard

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719082399

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719082399.001.0001

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KVN: Live television and improvised comedy in the Soviet Union, 1957–71

KVN: Live television and improvised comedy in the Soviet Union, 1957–71

(p.124) 8 KVN: Live television and improvised comedy in the Soviet Union, 1957–71
Popular television in authoritarian Europe

Andrew Janco

Manchester University Press

Based on contemporary publications and interviews with production personnel, this chapter investigates the phenomenon of KVN (Club of the Merry and Quick-Witted / Klub veselykh i nakhodchivykh), a partly-improvised team competition which became the most popular programme on Soviet television in the 1960s. The author recounts the programme’s genesis in a short-lived student quiz show in 1957 and discusses the programme’s rise to popularity. Analysing some key editions of the show, he argues that its popular appeal arose in part from its spontaneity, liveness and satirical nature, which could give rise to veiled criticisms of the Soviet state, as well as from the way its sincerity and amateur zeal contrasted with the monological voice normally displayed by state broadcasting. Finally, he shows how the ‘threat’ represented by KVN was muzzled, firstly by pre-recording and eventually by cancellation in 1971.

Keywords:   Soviet Union, Television, Popular Television, Soviet Television, KVN, Entertainment, Quiz programmes

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