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The BBC Television Audience Research Reports, 1957-1979: recorded opinions and invisible expectations

Smart, B. (2014) The BBC Television Audience Research Reports, 1957-1979: recorded opinions and invisible expectations. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 34 (3). pp. 452-462. ISSN 0143-9685

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01439685.2014.937187


Between the 1950s and the 1980s, the BBC’s internal Audience Research Unit compiled up to 700 Audience Research reports for television a year, attempting to cover the complete spectrum of BBC TV programming. This article considers the form, value and possible future application of this material, reflections inspired by my own use of the collection when researching BBC adaptations of theatrical classics in order to examine the use of space in these dramas in the 1970s; the spaces that programmes were made in, the spaces represented onscreen, and viewers’ spatial understanding of these programmes. In this piece I shall describe the form that the Audience Research Reports took, demonstrate why they are of use to historians, and then explain two methodologies that I have used in my work; forming conclusions through looking at the full extent of reports for one form of drama (versions of classic stage plays recorded on location on Outside Broadcast) spread across a number of years; and decoding audience’s reactions through establishing what was left unsaid in these reports.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:71886
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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