Doing TV Drama
© English & Media Centre, 2009
Reading TV Drama
Audiences are the ‘Holy’ Grail’ for broadcasters.
• However brilliant the idea or concept,
all TV drama iscommissioned with speci
c audiences in mind
Audiences will read and make sense of the drama indi
according to their gender, race, class,age-group etc. They may not respond to drama in theways the producers intended.• Broadcasters constantly look for new ways to
increaseaudience share and boost ratings
Scheduling and promotion
of drama is crucial inattracting audiences.•
Audiences are increasingly powerful
in:– shaping producers’ agendas– communicating their responses– interacting with, or contributing to drama.•
Who might be the primary demographic audience
forthis sequence in terms of gender, age, social class groupetc – and how do you know?•
does the sequence use to attract, talk to, and appeal to, audiences?•
What ideas, values or messages
might the audiencetake away from this sequence?•
How might di
erent audience groups
respond to thesequence?•
How do audiences access the sequence
– e.g. throughbroadcast schedules, DVD, iPlayer, video on demand,YouTube – and what di
erence might this make?
Characters and Performance
Characters in TV Drama are not real people! They areconstructed representations.
• Audiences may respond in di
erent ways to characters,depending on:– the
role they play
within the narrative– the
of the drama genre– the
style and intentions
– the quality and style of their
the viewer’s own values
, age, experiences etc.• Characters don’t have to be realistic or psychologicallymotivated for audiences to relate to them.•
Who is in the sequence?
(Think in terms of gender, age,class, ability/disability, race/ethnicity, etc.)• Do characters represent particular ideas, values, types orstereotypes?•
Are the actors familiar
, or associated with other media?If so, which?•
What can you assume about the characters
, and theirrelationships to each other, from dress, body language,accessories, framing?•
What’s their role in the story
within this sequence? Aresome more important than others?•
What style of performance is involved
– e.g. realistic,melodramatic, stylised, comic, etc?• With whom do you
identify or sympathise
, if anyone,and why?
The lines spoken by characters whether in a TV drama,on
lm or in literary
Dialogue is not always the most important aspect of ascreenplay.
style and realism of dialogue varies
according tothe genre of drama.• TV drama dialogue is
and rehearsed,however random or spontaneous it may seem.•
Dialogue has many di
– to constructaspects of a character’s personality, to provide speciﬁcnarrative information, to create atmosphere or representa profession or area of knowledge, as in the specialistvocabulary of medical dramas.•
‘Realistic’ dialogue has its own conventions
– such asoverlapping speech, mumbling, slang, use of jargon.•
What kind of talk is it?
Conversation, argument,instruction, gossip? Does it reveal aspects of thecharacter’s personality, or their relationships, or is itintended to further the plot?•
What’s the talk for?
To demonstrate the relationshipbetween characters? To ﬁll in gaps in the plot? To movethe story on? To create a sense of place or time?•
Is it scripted, or improvised
– and how do you know?How does it di
er from spontaneous speech?•
Does the dialogue feel authentic
(i.e. real) or is itstylised, deliberately old-fashioned or mechanical?
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