American Television on British Screens: A Story of Cultural by Paul Rixon

By Paul Rixon

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Briggs, for example, mentions that 'British TV, however, remained essentially British, not American or Americanised. The top rated BBC programmes in the schedules for 1959 and 1960 were not American programmes but British ones, for example, Hancock's Half Hour and Whack-OJ' (Harbord and Wright, 1992: 143). Most comedies were British, not American (Crisell, 1997: 96). American programmes might have played an important role but this has to be put in perspective, the BBC and ITV still produced most of the programmes they showed and, as television matured, as more money went into production and as they developed their creative skills, American programmes were increasingly substituted by British ones.

For some, the problem was inherent in commercial television, it was there to pander to the lowest common denominator, and the use of American programmes was the result of this; for others, there was a worry about certain genre, the crime series and Western, and their depiction of violence. The fact that most of these series were from America did not go unnoticed. For example, Sendall quotes from the Darlington Northern Echo, which criticised Tyne Tees, one of the lTV companies, over the use of American programmes, '[t]he company policy has been ...

10, 181). However, Miller accepts that such a view, while dynamic, is rather hard to study. He suggests therefore that the complex interaction of cultures can be approached by way of the concept of 'reading formations' (Bennett and Woollacott, 1987). Such a concept allows a dynamiC way of understanding the way a text and audience interact; indeed, it suggests that they are not separable. Meaning does not reside in the text or with the audience; it comes, however, from how these two work together within particular concrete historical contexts.

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