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Adjusting the ContrastBritish Television and Constructs of Race$
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Sarita Malik and Darrell M. Newton

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100986

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100986.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

Reframing the 1950s: race and representation in recent British television

Reframing the 1950s: race and representation in recent British television

(p.71) 3 Reframing the 1950s: race and representation in recent British television
Adjusting the Contrast

James Burton

Manchester University Press

This chapter interrogates a small but interesting group of programmes broadcast in the last few years that engage with the domestic realities of London in the 1950s and present a corrective to established notions of the nation at that time. The purpose is to critically examine the representation of race and immigration in these narratives that are ostensibly about gender politics. Since heritage programming has traditionally ‘excluded a significant Black narrative presence,’ even when its aims have been progressive, it is important to map the ways in which these programmes re-present race and construct the immigrant ‘Other.’ All three programmes – The Hour (2011–12), The Bletchley Circle (2012–14) and the phenomenally popular Call the Midwife (2012–) – are primarily created by women, written by women, feature women in most of the lead roles, and forcefully reassert the place of women in British history. Although each show conjures a longing for the era that they represent, their function is framed as something beyond the notion of nostalgia, as being ‘essentially inauthentic, ahistorical, sentimentalizing, regressive and exploitative’ – characterizing much of the acritical debate around heritage screen fictions.

Keywords:   The 1950s, immigration, gender politics, The Other, British history, nostalgia

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