Making TV Sound: A History of Television Sound Operation from 1970-2010

Timothy Heath

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis investigates the the changing practices, technologies, and cultures of sound operators working in Britain’s television industry from 1970 - 2010. Television production in Britain changed fundamentally throughout this period as a result of industrial reorganisation and significant technological change. During this time, operational sound personnel have experienced significant disruption to the practices, cultures, and communities that make up their daily working lives.

Focussing particular attention on the reorganisation of the 1980s and 1990s, this research contributes an understanding of, how these industrial, technological, and cultural shifts took form within the work of television sound personnel and how this group has adapted and reorganised as a result. This thesis aims to show that the working lives and experiences of television sound operators are now significantly different from those employed before this period of industrial and technological transformation. It will be argued that not only are technologies and working practices of sound operation now considerably different, but so too are the ways in which members of this community interpret and portray their work, identity, and skills. In order to achieve this the experiences of this group of professionals shall be discussed through analysis of topics such as training, innovation, working practices, production hierarchies, and professional identity.

At a time when television sound is frequently being criticised by the press and wider public, this thesis aims to explore the practices and cultures of a group of professionals whose work remains under researched and misunderstood by many.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Ellis, John, Supervisor
  • Hall, Nick, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • production cultures
  • television

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