Archive for March 2017

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[ecrea] Call for Papers: British Medical Television conference

Fri Mar 03 18:35:49 GMT 2017

/*Call for Papers*/


*/British Medical Television /*


*Film and Screen Studies, School of Media, University of Brighton*

*27-28 July, 2017(deadline 24 April)


*Proposals are invited for an interdisciplinary 2 day conference at the University of Brighton*

In response to the British government’s imposed changes to junior doctor contracts in 2015, actors from the BBC’s hospital drama /Holby City/ and Channel 4’s hospital comedy /The Green Wing /joined marches and picket line protests alongside NHS workers. An episode of /Holby City/ entitled ‘Handle with Care’ (2016) drew attention to the plight of “marvellous junior doctors” and the serious problems created by NHS reforms. The explicit foregrounding of social and political issues within television hospital drama is not new, but medical programmes like /Casualty,/ /Holby City, Call The Midwife, /and/One Born Every Minute /appear to have become primary cultural spaces where political tensions are played out.

Within this political and ideological landscape of Tory cuts, austerity, threats of privatisation, editorial control and neo-liberalism, this conference suggests that to consider the history, politics, production and public role of British medical television is timely and urgent. The genre, both fictional and factual, has a long and rich history. And yet, despite its longevity, its broad appeal, and its resonance within the political and cultural national landscape, British medical television has not been the subject of much academic interest. Whilst academics have recognised the significance of US dramas such as /ER/ and /Grey’s Anatomy, /programmes like /Casualty/ – the longest running medical drama in the world – have been largely neglected.

This conference offers a unique opportunity for scholars across academic disciplines to engage with a strand of British television that has too long been ignored within the academy. We seek to consider questions such as:

·What ideological and political purposes are served by TV programmes dealing with medical issues, and how do they shape public understandings of healthcare?

·Do programmes like /Holby City/ and /Casualty/ serve as a vehicle for the BBC to tell its own story about the impact of government intervention and the ideological dismantling of the BBC?

·What impact will the tendering out of /Holby City/ to independent production have on the potential ideological relationship between the BBC and national politics?

·How are the political schemas of programmes like /Holby City/ and /Casualty/ reflected in other forms of medical television broadcast on UK commercial television?

·How do genres such as reality TV and documentary engage with medical issues?

The conference aims to map out the rich history of medical programming on British television and to engage with the complex relationships between the NHS, British broadcasting, and the state.

Indicative texts from a range of genres include, but are not restricted to:


/General Hospital/

/Doc Martin/

/Holby City/

/Call The Midwife/


/What’s Your Emergency/

/Junior Doctors/

/24 Hours in A& E/

/Embarrassing Bodies/

/Operation Ouch/

/Doctor in The House/

/Only When I Laugh/

Possible approaches include:

History of medical programming

Children’s medical television



Exposure of the body





Broadcast policies

Public service broadcasting and the commercial sector

Spectacle and visual effects

Space and place

Production cultures

Expert knowledge

Drama and quality TV

Narrative and storytelling

Stardom and performance

Christmas specials

Neglected television

Medical authority and authenticity


The conference will be held at the University of Brighton on 27 and 28 July 2017. Please send abstracts of 300 words plus 100-word bio by Monday 24 April 2017 (please copy to all three organisers):

Dr Louise FitzGerald (L.Fitzgerald /at/ <mailto:(L.Fitzgerald /at/>

Dr Douglas McNaughton (D.McNaughton /at/ <mailto:(D.McNaughton /at/>

Ms Joanna Macdonnell (J.Macdonnell /at/ <mailto:(J.Macdonnell /at/>

Website: <>

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