Riveting and Real - a family in the raw:(Re)visiting The Family (1974) after Reality TV

Holmes, Su (2008) Riveting and Real - a family in the raw:(Re)visiting The Family (1974) after Reality TV. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 11 (2). pp. 193-210. ISSN 1460-356X

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Abstract

Paul Watson's 12-part documentary serial, The Family (BBC, 1974), focused on the lives of the working-class Wilkins family from Reading. Along with An American Family (PBS, 1973), The Family has been positioned as a landmark precursor to reality TV. Yet it has largely been referred to rather than analysed, and the potential relationship at work between `then' and `now' is often obscured. In seeking to (re)construct the popular reception of The Family, this article argues that it is particularly productive to `revisit' the Wilkinses right now, precisely because the growth of reality TV has led to an `opening up' of the traditional terrain of documentary studies. Drawing on new archival research, this article examines how discussion of the programme generated an expansive extratextual framework. This framework turned The Family into a cultural event, and it represents a crucial site for accessing its historical circulation — particularly with regard to discourses on `ordinary' people as television performers, and `ordinary' people turned television `stars'.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1970s television,celebrity,class,documentary,'ordinary' people,the bbc
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Film,Television and Media
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Film, Television and Media
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2010 13:58
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 17:53
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/10091
DOI: 10.1177/1367877908089264

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