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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: 14 October 2019

Don Taylor, the ‘Old-Fashioned Populist’? The Theban Plays (1986) and Iphigenia at Aulis (1990): Production Choices and Audience Responses

Don Taylor, the ‘Old-Fashioned Populist’? The Theban Plays (1986) and Iphigenia at Aulis (1990): Production Choices and Audience Responses

Chapter:
(p.123) 6 Don Taylor, the ‘Old-Fashioned Populist’? The Theban Plays (1986) and Iphigenia at Aulis (1990): Production Choices and Audience Responses
Source:
Ancient Greece on British Television
Author(s):

Lynn Fotheringham

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474412599.003.0007

This chapter explores the production contexts for and audience responses to The Theban Plays (BBC, 1986), a trilogy of plays by Sophocles, and Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis (BBC, 1990), the last productions of Greek tragedy that would be broadcast on British television for twenty years. These four plays were directed by Don Taylor at the end of a long career in television from 1960. Taylor’s commitment to studio-bound drama, shot as if live on multiple cameras, could be seen as old-fashioned by the mid-1980s, as could his ‘Reithian’ commitment to democratizing works from the dramatic canon via television. Nevertheless these productions garnered enthusiastic as well as critical comments from both newspaper reviewers and the audience sample surveyed by the BBC. This chapter demonstrates how various features of the productions, including an anti-realistic mise-en-scène and the uses made of the multiple cameras, align with and reflect Taylor’s published views on television drama. Close analysis of the wide variety of opinions expressed by those watching underline the complex social, political and aesthetic issues involved in judging attempts to put ancient drama before a modern television audience.

Keywords:   Greek tragedy, Sophocles, Euripides, BBC, Don Taylor, studio drama, multi-camera, mise-en-scène (set and costume), audience response

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