Television's royal family: continuity and change

Bell, Erin and Gray, Ann (2016) Television's royal family: continuity and change. In: The British monarchy on screen. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719099564

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British television has had a long, and not always happy, relationship with the royal family, but since Richard Cawston’s documentary The Royal Family (BBC 1969) the Windsors have acknowledged the necessary evil of allowing the cameras in to record less formal aspects of their life and work. The Queen herself has since been the subject of three such observational documentaries: Edward Mirzeoff’s Elizabeth R (BBC 1992) marking the 40th fortieth anniversary of her reign, Matt Reid’s Monarch: The Royal Family at Work (BBC 2007) and Michael Waldmen’s Our Queen. (ITV 2013) These documentaries are often unsatisfactory experiences for subject and film-makers alike. For example, Reid’s film created controversy when the veracity of its trailer was called into question resulting in the resignation of the then BBC1 controller, Peter Finch. Our Queen, a rare offering in this genre from ITV, revealed a tension between the film-maker, Waldman, who wanted to observe the monarchy and the advisors who sought to limit his access. As the latter unsurprisingly triumphed, an almost inevitable celebratory mode was conveyed. The royal family seems much more comfortable with cameras that are kept at an appropriate distance as on formal occasions covered by broadcasters. As these brief examples demonstrate, all televised representations are potentially fraught, with questions implicitly raised by some programmes about the legitimacy of monarchy in the twenty-first century, or on the other hand, the suitability of the younger royal generations to replace the Queen.

Keywords:monarchy, royalty, UK, television, Radio and Television Studies, History
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V147 Modern History 1950-1999
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P301 Television studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V148 Modern History 2000-2099
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V210 British History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:22296
Deposited On:18 Feb 2016 12:01

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