From homebuyer advisor to angel of the hearth: the development of Kirstie Allsopp as the female face of Channel Four ‘squeezed middle’ austerity programming

Charlesworth, Diane (2014) From homebuyer advisor to angel of the hearth: the development of Kirstie Allsopp as the female face of Channel Four ‘squeezed middle’ austerity programming. In: Second BAFTSS [British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Conference, 24-26 April 2014, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London, UK.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Very little has been written on the female television personality in British broadcasting [with notable exceptions: Bennett: 2010 & 2008; Woods: 2013]. In his 2010 work, Bennett wrote that television had the potential to provide space for female performers, given the domesticity of the medium. Writing of 1950s television, he discusses the example of in-vision continuity announcing as a space for female presence and examines how their visuality and gender is negotiated through a discourse of ‘respectable glamour’. However, in factual as opposed to fictional forms of programming, the longevity required front-of-camera for audience resonance and professional authority has been a contentious issue for women working in the industry across the years and one debated hotly in the last few years [cf. Jermyn: 2013]. This paper looks at one of the spaces which have recently opened up for female authority in television: programming that addresses itself to “managing” in austerity Britain. Austerity programming, apparent particularly in the schedules of the BBC and C4, is by no means homogenous in its tenor, the focus of its interventionist attention [in its reality formats] or its audience address. This paper concentrates on one particular element: that which embraces the do-it-yourself, 1940s & 1950s nostalgic and retro modes of consumerism. In particular the focus is on its performance in factual television programming on Channel 4, presented by Kirstie Allsopp, of celebrating domestic endeavour and homecraft, and its community affirmation at the institution of the village fete [Kirstie's Handmade Britain], as well as the more recent shabby-chic-recycling-glamour-on-no-budget for the design-conscious and aspirational homemaker: Kirstie's Fill Your Home for Free. The paper will look at how her mode of address and presenter persona in these latter programmes builds on, but also reshapes her earlier performances of female/feminine identity, ‘respectable glamour’ and middle class cultural capital in the property-buying programming Location, Location, Location and Relocation, Relocation, Relocation offset by the performance of her co-presenter Phil Spencer.

Keywords:television personality, Kirstie Allsopp, Channel Four, austerity, Reality TV
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P301 Television studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:14161
Deposited On:28 May 2014 14:30

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