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Television PolicyThe MacTaggart Lectures$
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Bob Franklin

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780748617173

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748617173.001.0001

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Television Drama, Censorship and the Truth

Television Drama, Censorship and the Truth

The James MacTaggart Lecture 1980

Chapter:
(p.71) Television Drama, Censorship and the Truth
Source:
Television Policy
Author(s):

John Mortimer

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748617173.003.0006

In this lecture, the author, a playwright and novelist, begins with an anecdote to introduce his argument that ‘there is no clear or necessary distinction between fact and fiction, between drama and documentary, between creating and reporting’. Indeed ‘one gives life to the other’ and both are equally important in the search for truth. Consequently, censoring drama is as ‘damaging and dishonest’ as censoring the news. The author argues that truth is essential to drama and must be rooted in the reality experienced by the writer. However, television drama has two ‘enemies’: censorship and ratings. The author rejects both and argues that drama should shock audiences. Television ratings also threaten drama and lead to mediocrity. The merits of drama must extend beyond pulling a crowd. To approach the problem of censoring violence in television drama, it is necessary to consider whether dramatic art creates life or exposes and reveals it.

Keywords:   television drama, censorship, truth, fiction, television ratings, violence

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