A critical survey of BBC films
: 1988 – 2013

  • Anne Woods

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines the arguments for the creation of a BBC feature film arm -BBC Films - and its development over a period of 25 years between 1988 and 2013.This followed the launch of Channel Four in 1982 and the formation of its own influential film strand Film on Four. As the role of public service broadcasters in supporting a national cinema became increasingly important, BBC Films became a key component of government film policy. Covering a period which saw increasing convergence between film and television, this historical investigation seeks to provide a greater understanding of the role of BBC Films as an alternative source of production funding, enabling a more complete picture of public support for British film to be drawn.

The conflicted place of BBC Films within the corporation forms a primary focus. Including archival research, interviews and original primary sources - in the form of previously unseen internal strategy documents - this thesis contributes to existing gaps in literature. Examination of institutional influences upon the unit’s evolving strategy and its creative decisions - including individual creativity within organisational structures - brings together elements of previously distinct disciplinary fields, providing an important contribution to film and television studies.As a division of a PSB, funded by the licence fee, this study of BBC Films also adds significantly to discourses around the desirability of broadcaster involvement in British film production, and to the issue of commerce versus culture. Finally, this thesis will seek to assess BBC Films’ unique contribution to British film culture.This will be questioned by considering the output of BBC Films from the perspectives of its support for established and emerging UK talent, its depictions of Britishness, and its success in creating a complementary brand to Channel Four.
Date of AwardJan 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorJustin Smith (Supervisor) & Laurie Ede (Supervisor)

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