Critical Studies in Television 2021

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Reading Past Reception: A Case Study of the BBC Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954)

This paper draws on the letters and messages and newspaper clipping held by the BBC Written Archives Centre in relation to the 1954 adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four as a case study for considering how we understand the historical reception of programming. This production is particularly useful in this regard because it achieved a certain notoriety in relation to its reception, with questions being raised in Parliament about the duties of broadcasters apparently as a result of its broadcast, and claims that the repeat performance only went ahead when the word spread that it had been enjoyed by the royal family. The paper will examine some of these stories and the truth behind them, as well as the way that a number of responses associated the production with 'horror comics' and what that suggests about the associations being made and the significance of this term in its context. These examinations will serve to support consideration of the challenges of interpreting past audience reception, and thinking about how we narrate the history of television and its audiences.
Period02 Aug 2021
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Television
  • History
  • Taste
  • Science Fiction