Televisual film, cinematic drama: space, technology and aesthetics in early Films on Four

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


What differentiates a film from a television drama?’ This question was uppermost in the minds of film and television critics in the early 1980s following the much anticipated launch of the new Channel 4. The channel occupied the unusual position of being a broadcaster which funded film production through its ‘Film on Four’ initiative, created by the channel’s Chief Executive Jeremy Isaacs and Commissioning Editor for Fiction, David Rose. Early Films on Four were seen as emerging firmly out of the tradition of the single play, and, as some argued, even contributed to its demise. The issue was a contentious one, with vocal critics like Don Boyd accusing the channel of teaching filmmakers to think small, and Mammoun Hassan referring to the films as a ‘worrying new category, a hybrid which might work if shown in very small cinemas.’ This paper will offer short studies of three very early Films on Four – Remembrance (Colin Gregg, 1982), Angel (Neil Jordan, 1982) and Accounts (Michael Darlow, 1983). These case studies will rely upon interviews with filmmakers such as director Michael Darlow and producer Stephen Woolley (who fought to give Angel a cinema release), as well as drawing upon the wealth of press criticism surrounding the release of these films. The aim will be to discuss the production values of these films and the ways in which they utilise location space and technology, and to consider how critical discourse regarding their ‘cinematic’ qualities was inextricably bound up with a certain stigma regarding their production origins and eventual broadcast on television. This paper will ultimately seek to explore how definitions of ‘film’ were changing in the early 1980s due to the advent of Channel 4
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
EventSpaces of Television project conference - Reading, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Sept 2013 → …


ConferenceSpaces of Television project conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period19/09/13 → …

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