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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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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 15 October 2019

The Beginnings of Civilisation: Television Travels to Greece with Mortimer Wheeler and Compton Mackenzie

The Beginnings of Civilisation: Television Travels to Greece with Mortimer Wheeler and Compton Mackenzie

Chapter:
(p.64) 3 The Beginnings of Civilisation: Television Travels to Greece with Mortimer Wheeler and Compton Mackenzie
Source:
Ancient Greece on British Television
Author(s):

John Wyver

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474412599.003.0004

This chapter considers two early BBC television documentary series about ancient Greece and its legacy: Armchair Voyage: Hellenic Cruise (1958) written and presented by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, and Sir Compton Mackenzie’s The Glory that was Greece (1959). Making use of archival documentation from the BBC Written Archives Centre, including audience research reports, the chapter details the network of influences on the series. It is argued that these series draw on earlier forms of encounters with and depictions of the sites of ancient Greece, including the Grand Tour, 19th-century photography, tourism, film travelogues and radio programming. In addition, the chapter details the ways in which these two series contributed centrally to establishing the fundamentals of the emerging form of the presenter-led documentary. This approach to documentary flourished a decade later in the BBC series Civilisation (1969), with Sir Kenneth Clark. Similar series centred on a journey with a presenter who acts as a surrogate for the viewer remain dominant in history and arts programming for television.

Keywords:   BBC television, television documentary, Armchair Voyage: Hellenic Cruise, The Glory that was Greece, Compton Mackenzie, Mortimer Wheeler, ancient Greece, Grand Tour, travelogue, tourism

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