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The influence of documentary methods upon BBC television drama, with particular emphasis upon the years 1946-1962

King, Colin Francis


Colin Francis King


John Wesley, 1935 Harris


[From the Preface]:
This thesis is an investigation into the influence of documentary methods, both their principles and their practice upon BBC Television Drama between the years 1946-1962 with particular reference to the Dramatised-Documentary and its successor the Documentary-Drama.

The first of these, the Dramatised-Documentary was an original form of television writing and production pioneered in the 1940s by Robert Barr and Duncan Ross together with the Documentary Group which worked as a unit until 1955.

The second form, the Documentary-Drama was a development of the first, but was by the late 1950s 'fiction based on fact' and the concern of the BBC Television Drama Department.

The aims of this thesis - though not necessarily in this order - are to:-
1. Show the historical background of Documentary by tracing the origins of the idea and its development from the early 'realist' films; The British Documentary Movement of of John Grierson (and in particular the 'dramatisations' of Harry Watt); to the BBC Sound 'Features' Department under
Laurence Gilliam.

2. By descriptive analysis to consider the pioneer work of the Television Documentary Group, first under the leadership of Robert Barr (1946) and later Paul Rotha (1952) until its dissolution in 1955.

To illustrate the methods and output of that tiny group of writer-producers by an examination of a selection of their Dramatised-Documentaries from scripts, production records and BBC files, and to reveal an emerging form of television writing, supported and developed later by Colin Morris, which culminated in the rise of 'Series' to become the mainstay of the medium.

3. As an integral part of this creative side of television, to show throughout, the major technical advances which made so much of the above possible, from the inception of the Service in 1936 to the commencement of Z-Cars in 1962.


King, C. F. (1975). The influence of documentary methods upon BBC television drama, with particular emphasis upon the years 1946-1962. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 18, 2013
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Drama
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Drama, The University of Hull
Award Date May 1, 1975


Thesis (41 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1975 King, Colin Francis. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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