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Wainwright’s West Yorkshire: affect and landscape in the television drama of Sally Wainwright

Woods, F. (2019) Wainwright’s West Yorkshire: affect and landscape in the television drama of Sally Wainwright. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 16 (3). pp. 346-366. ISSN 1755-1714

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2019.0481

Abstract/Summary

Over the past two decades RED Production Company's key presence in British television drama has been grounded in its regional focus on the North of England. It shares this commitment with Sally Wainwright, whose work with and outside of RED is built around a strong affective engagement with its characters’ experiences. These stories offer intimate explorations of family dynamics and female relationships, situated within and interwoven with the spaces and places of West Yorkshire. From her adaptation of Wuthering Heights in Sparkhouse (BBC, 2002) to her 2016 Christmas biopic of the Brontë sisters To Walk Invisible (BBC, 2016), through Last Tango in Halifax (BBC, 2012–16) and Happy Valley (BBC, 2014–) these are distinctly regional narratives whose female-led familial melodrama, psychodrama and romance are embedded within and return to the landscapes of the region, spaces which blend the stolid and torrid. Wide and spectacular aerial shots follow cars that track through the green and brown expanses between the Harrogate and Halifax families of the elderly couple in Last Tango, the beauty of the Calder Valley pens in the stark bleakness that is foundational to Happy Valley, and the Brontë sisters stride across heathered hills and are silhouetted against grey skies in To Walk Invisible. This article explores the visual dynamics of Wainwright's work and her engagement with the landscapes of the region in both her writing and direction, evoking their numerous literary and cultural connotations in her interweaving of West Yorkshire's stark, dynamic beauty with her stories of intimate female affect.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:81364
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press

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