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Ancient Greece on British Television$
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Fiona Hobden and Amanda Wrigley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474412599

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474412599.001.0001

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Broadcasting Greece: An Introduction to Greek Antiquity on the Small Screen

Broadcasting Greece: An Introduction to Greek Antiquity on the Small Screen

(p.1) Broadcasting Greece: An Introduction to Greek Antiquity on the Small Screen
Ancient Greece on British Television

Fiona Hobden

Amanda Wrigley

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter offers an introduction to the subject of ancient Greece on British television from the mid-20th century to the present and to the particular topics and debates addressed in the volume. An opening analysis of The Drinking Party (BBC, 1965), a ‘modern recreation’ of Plato’s Symposium by Leo Aylen and Jonathan Miller, establishes the value of examining television’s engagement with ancient Greece and identifies avenues for wider investigation. In particular, it points to the significance of such televisual constructions of ancient Greece as part of wider historical conversations about British culture, society and politics; and it highlights tensions between education and entertainment, on the one hand, and ‘authenticity’ and authority, on the other, exploring what dominant ideas about national identity are being communicated. Earlier engagements with ancient Greece on British radio and television are broadly sketched out and set against relevant contours in the socio-cultural and televisual landscape, and wider cultural engagements with Hellenic antiquity. With the socio-historical and intellectual context mapped out, the contents and directions of individual chapters are outlined, with attention paid to their methods and approaches as well as their motivating questions and conclusions regarding the encounters with the Hellenic past on British television.

Keywords:   Plato’s Symposium, The Drinking Party, Ancient Greece, Classics (educational subject), Mass media, Radio, Television, Broadcasting history, Popular antiquity

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