Poetry on BBC Television 1936 - 2009

Balfour, Alexander Hugh (2023) Poetry on BBC Television 1936 - 2009. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Poetry on television entails words, sounds and images. The argument of this thesis is that poetry has been a problem for BBC television because it is an ancient oral and written art form re-presented in a new electronic, visual, time-bound medium. Nevertheless, it was an art form which the BBC was obliged to put on television. I organise this study around three of the challenges that arose: firstly, even when a television programme was about poetry, the poetry was also used to make television. Where the conflict became overt, television invariably took precedence. Secondly, in portraits and biographies of poets, which account for a substantial proportion of the poetry broadcast on television, the BBC has used poetry as a form of confessional testimony. In doing so, it blurred the distinction between general truths about the human condition expressed in poetry, and the particular facts of a poet’s life. And thirdly, in using poetry to reflect the nation, BBC television has given particular prominence to a few memorable lines from well-known poems. Using evidence from the BBC archives, from the broadsheet and popular press, and from copies of what was broadcast, this study considers poetry on BBC television over a period of eighty years. The conclusion is that BBC television producers were necessarily troubled in their attempts to bring poetry to television, because to televise poetry is to change it.

Keywords: poetry, BBC television, United Kingdom, history

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2024 13:35
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:35
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/94766


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