British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Symposium – Re-imaging Regional Television Drama: Women as Agents of Cultural Change

Re-imaging Regional Television Drama: Women as Agents of Cultural Change
11 September 2014
Edge Hill University

In recent years, female writers, producers and directors have emerged as central innovators of television fictions. Dramas and dramadocs by Kay Mellor, Sally Wainwright and Heidi Thomas belong to some of the most-watched programmes on British screens, and they also celebrate significant success across the pond and elsewhere. At the same time, new production houses, such as Red Productions, contribute significantly to the vibrancy of British (and international) television. In America, Ann Biderman has taken the realist aesthetics of NYPD Blue to new extremes in Southland and more recently Ray Donovan. And in Germany, Claudia Matschulla has developed scripts focused on spaces that are embodied, lived spaces rather than offering the touristic views of so many other German television dramas. Many of these female writers/producers/directors have ventured into new territories in terms of representation such as the non-ageist depiction of a romance between two widows in Last Tango in Halifax, substance abuse in response to domestic violence in The Syndicate, or the friendship between a widower and a young woman suffering from Downs Syndrome in Moving On. Additionally, they connect these new representations to specific conceptualisations of space and place, invariably making the most of their regional locations. Unlike the first wave of regional drama in the 1960s and 70s, these women do not use regional space as ‘liminal ground on which to criticize its own values, to challenge the “acceptable” way of life with other attitudes’ (Newcombe 1979: 158). Rather, they imagine these spaces as mundane, lived space, and thereby imagine an embodied experience of regional identity that has its own rich patterns of speech and everyday life. This crucially impacts on the conceptualisation of the regions as touristic spaces (Blandford 2005),  redefining them not only as places with their own histories, cultures and identities where life is lived in and through local identities but as new centres of creative and cultural production that are situating these identities centre stage in national life.

9.30am Arrival & Registration

10.00 -11.30am: Panel 1
The Female Voice and the Issue of Representation
Jill Marshall: The Cosmology of Victoria Wood’s Television Comedy
Elke Weissmann: Ann Biderman, Female Instinct and Space in SouthLAnd
Veronica Ali: Writing the Region – Gun Crime and Gang Culture in Liverpool

11.30-11.45 Coffee

11.45-12.45pm Panel 2
Histories of Female Voices
Lez Cooke: Women and Regional British Television Drama in the 1970s
Kim Wiltshire: My Father, the Patriarch and I: The Impact of Shared Television Consumption on the Creation of Female Characters

12.45-1.30pm Lunch

1.30-2.15pm: Helen Wood (My Summer of Love) and Claire Bennett (Doctors, Holby City) in Conversation with Elke Weissmann

2.25-3.10pm Women Creatives in a Changing Scotland: Emma Lennox (writer) and Dhivya Chetty (development producer) in Conversation with David Morgan (producer/writer)

3.10-3.30 Coffee

3.30-4.30 Plenary
Women Creatives, the Region and Space

  • Julia Hallam
  • Vicky Ball
  • Ruth McElroy

4.30 End of Symposium

If you would like to register for this free event, please email Elke Weissman at:

Delicious Save this on Delicious |