From Five Women to Leeds United! Roy Battersby and the Politics of 'Radical' Television Drama

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Focusing on the work of the left-wing film and television director, Roy Battersby, this article seeks to shed light on the issues at stake in the controversies surrounding the production and reception of ‘radical television drama’ during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Through an examination of a number of BBC productions that were either cut (Five Women), banned (Hit Suddenly Hit) or the subject of moral and political objections (The Operation and Leeds United!), the discussion indicates how arguments over ‘radical’ television drama involved a degree of shift away from concerns with the blurring of boundaries between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ towards a preoccupation with political ‘balance’ (that involved the application of criteria to drama that were originally reserved for documentaries). Although the period in question is often characterised as one in which the creators of television drama enjoyed substantial creative freedom to make work that challenged the status quo, what this article also reveals is how such work was far from the norm and often only got made, and shown, in the face of considerable opposition. The article therefore concludes with an assessment of some of the – ideological and institutional - constraints weighing upon ‘radical’ political expression in television drama at this time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-150
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Radical Television Drama
  • Roy Battersby

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