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04 JANUARY 2014

Story and Show Bibles: TV series pitching and reference documents

"Writers who want to pitch a TV series create a show bible. The bible contains the concept, location, bios of the characters, full episodes, synopses of potential episodes, and possibly even a pilot episode. Once the TV series is launched, the show bible is used to keep track of details about the setting and characters to preserve continuity. The show bible reminds writers about pertinent but minute facts. No doubt the writers for the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer needed to know the characteristics of each demon that Buffy fought as well as the names of her high school classmates who turned out to be vampires. It would be confusing if a student who was supposedly a vampire one season were suddenly able to see her reflection during the next season."

(Rochelle Melander, 2011, p.46)

Melander, R. (2011). "Write–A–Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It)", F+W Media.

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2011bible (guide)Buffy the Vampire Slayer • character bible • character bios • character history • consistencycontinuityepisodesfictional universehistories • keep track • living document • living inside a show • main characterpilot episode • pitch document • plotline • preserve continuity • production document • progressive design • reference document • Rochelle Melander • screenwriters • series pitch • show biblesoap opera • story bible • story breakdown • story concept • story location • story outline • story setting • synopsis • television seriesTV series • types of bibles • updated as a series progresses • world of the storywriters

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 OCTOBER 2013

Bingo, Barbie and Barthes: 50 Years of Cultural Studies

"Fifty years after Richard Hoggart established Cultural Studies with the founding of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham, Laurie Taylor takes a personal look at what this new discipline has given us –– taking cultural studies out of the academy to ask: has it really narrowed the separation between high and low culture, or just been an excuse for soap fans to write dissertations on Coronation Street?"

(BBC Radio 4)

First broadcast: Monday 07 October 2013

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201450th anniversary • academic discipline • Angela McRobbieBarbie dollBBC Radio 4 • bingo • Birmingham • Caspar Melville • Centre for Contemporary Cultural StudiesChristopher Fraylingcontemporary culture • Coronation Street • critical language • critical tools • cultural studies • cultural thinking • democratised culturehigh culture • Lady Chatterleys Lover • Laurie Taylor • leisure activitylived experiencelow culture • Lynsey Hanley • mass mediamassification • Matthew Hilton • Owen JonesPaul Gilroy • Paul Willis • popular arts • popular culturepopular musicpost-warRaymond WilliamsRichard HoggartRoland Barthessoap operasocial change • street culture • Stuart Hall • tabloid • the academyTV

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 JUNE 2012

Audience Research: Reception Analysis

"Despite the (implicit) nominal link to the work on what is also called 'Reception Theory', within the field of literary studies, carried out by Wolfgang Iser, Hans Jauss and other literary scholars (particular in Germany), the body of recent work on media audiences commonly referred to by this name, has on the whole, a different origin, although there are some theoretical links (cf., the work of Stanley Fish) than the work in literary theory. In practice, the term 'reception analysis', has come to be widely used as a way of characterising the wave of audience research which occurred within communications and cultural studies during the 1980s and 1990s. On the whole, this work has adopted a 'culturalist' perspective, has tended to use qualitative (and often ethnographic) methods of research and has tended to be concerned, one way or another, with exploring the active choices, uses and interpretations made of media materials, by their consumers.

As indicated in the previous discussion of 'The Media Audience', the single most important point of origin for this work, lies with the development of cultural studies in the writings of Stuart Hall at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham, England, in the early 1970s and, in particular, Hall's widely influential 'encoding/decoding' model of communications (see the discussion of 'The Media Audience' for an explanation of this model). Hall's model provided the inspiration, and much of the conceptual framework for a number of C.C.C.S' explorations of the process of media consumption, notably David Morley's widely cited study of the cultural patterning of differential interpretations of media messages among The 'Nationwide' Audience and Dorothy Hobson's work on women viewers of the soap opera Crossroads. These works were the forerunners of a blossoming of cultural studies work focusing on the media audience, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including, among the most influential, from a feminist point of view, the work of Tania Modleski and Janice Radway on women consumers of soap opera and romance, and the work of Ien Ang, Tamar Liebes and Elihu Katz, Kim Schroder and Jostein Gripsrud on international cross cultural consumption of American drama series, such as Dallas and Dynasty.

Much of this work has been effectively summarised and popularised, especially, in the United States by John Fiske, who has drawn on the theoretical work of Michel de Certeau to develop a particular emphasis on the 'active audience', operating within what he terms the 'semiotic democracy' of postmodern pluralistic culture. Fiske's work has subsequently been the object of some critique, in which a number of authors, among them Budd, Condit, Evans, Gripsrud, and Seamann have argued that the emphasis on the openness (or 'polysemy') of the message and on the activity (and the implied 'empowerment') of the audience, within reception analysis, has been taken too far, to the extent that the original issue––of the extent of media power––has been lost sight of, as if the 'text' had been theoretically 'dissolved' into the audience's (supposedly) multiple 'readings' of (and 'resistances' to) it.

In the late 1980s, there were a number of calls to scholars to recognise a possible 'convergence' of previously disparate approaches under the general banner of 'reception analysis' (cf. in particular, Jensen and Rosengren), while Blumler et al. have claimed that the work of a scholar such as Radway is little more than a 're–invention' of the 'uses and gratifications' tradition––a claim hotly contested by Schroder. More recently, both Curran and Corner have offered substantial critiques of 'reception analysis'––the former accusing many reception analysts of ignorance of the earlier traditions of media audience research, and the latter accusing them of retreating away from important issues of macro–politics and power into inconsequential micro–ethnographies of domestic television consumption. For a reply to these criticisms, see Morley, 1992."

(David Morley, The Museum of Broadcast Communications)

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1970s1980s1990sactive audience • active choices • activity • American drama series • Anna-Maria Seemann • audienceaudience research • Billy Budd • Celeste Condit • Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studiescommunication theorycommunications and cultural studiesconsumersconsumption • Crossroads (television series) • cultural patterning • cultural studies • culturalist perspective • Dallas (television series) • David Morley • differential interpretations • domestic television consumption • Dorothy Hobson • Dynasty (television series) • Elihu Katz • Elizabeth Evans • empowerment • encoding/decoding • ethnographic researchfeminist perspective • Hans Jauss • Ien Ang • international cross cultural consumption • interpretation • James Curran • Janice Radway • Jay Blumler • John Corner • John Fiske • Jostein Gripsrud • Karl Erik Rosengren • Kim Schroder • Klaus Jensen • literary scholarship • literary studiesliterary theory • macro-politics and power • MBC • media • media as text • media audience • media audience research • media audiencesmedia consumption • media messages • media power • media studiesmedia textmessageMichel de Certeau • micro-ethnographies • micro-ethnographies of domestic television consumption • model of communication • multiple readings • Museum of Broadcast Communicationsopennesspolysemy • postmodern pluralistic culture • powerqualitative research methods • reader-response criticism • reader-response theory • reception analysis • reception analysts • reception theory • romance • semiotic democracy • soap opera • Stanley Fish • Stuart Hall • Tamar Liebes • Tania Modleski • television • television consumption • textUnited StatesUniversity of Birmingham • uses and gratifications • Wolfgang Iser • women consumers • women viewers

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 OCTOBER 2011

Hollyoaks: visually dramatic wedding trailer

"Hollyoaks released its memorable 'Black Wedding' promo as build–up to the upcoming marriage of Mercedes McQueen (Jennifer Metcalfe) and Riley Costello (Rob Norbury). Set to the music of Billy Idol's sinister 'White Wedding,' this highly–stylized, artistic trailer was meant to convey the dark, foreboding mood surrounding the event, which was rife with lies, deceit, and even blackmail. Would the very pregnant Mercedes finally cave and confess to Riley that she'd had an affair with his own father, Carl (Paul Opacic), who was serving as his son's best man – or – would she go through with the ceremony ever–fearful that one of the villagers who knew her secret might stand up and tell all? The 45–second video, which was said to have taken 15 hours to film, was directed by Alex Boutell, photographed by Chris Sabogal. and edited by Kel McKeown (host of this1080p HD version at YouTube). And yes, according to Metcalfe, that really was black paint they put in her eye for the final teardrop shot – having joked at the time that it nearly 'killed' her!""

(Kevin Mulcahy Jr., 3 October 2014, We Love Soaps)

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2011advert • big event • Billy Idol • Channel 4characterscinematographydarkE4 • episode • gothic • Hollyoaks • Jennifer Metcalfe • Mercedes Fisher • Mercedes McQueen • monochromatic • moody • play it straight • promo • Riley Costello • Rob Norbury • soap opera • spoiler • trailervisual dramavisually dramaticweddingwedding day • wedding trailer • white wedding

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 NOVEMBER 2008

UK and German TV Experiment: Interwoven Plot Lines For Shared Audiences

"This month the officers of Sun Hill station are pioneering an unprecedented twinning experiment with primetime German cop drama SOKO Leipzig, as the two shows jointly film a two–part story to be broadcast in almost identical form on ITV1 and German state broadcaster ZDF.

Leipzig's Hauptkommissar Hajo Trautzschke travels to London to find his goddaughter – seeking assistance, god bless him, from The Bill's perennial guv'nor DCI Jack Meadows. DC Mickey Webb joins his boss as they track the kidnappers back to Leipzig, allowing for a few smart cross–cultural gags – such as Teutonic blonde Detective Superintendent Ina Zimmermann shrugging "We Germans have no sense of humour" as she dismisses our boys in blue's backchat.

In fact, the history of Europe's jointly produced television has been about as successful as the history of Europe's jointly produced treaties – with the notable exception/obvious confirmation being the Eurovision Song Contest. So it's little wonder that the Bill's producer, Johnathan Young, is keen to distance his co–production from one that preceded it. "This is definitely not Eurocops," he insists.
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The signs so far are that the budget twinning worked for the production companies and the broadcasters at least.
"
(Stephen Armstrong, August 4 2008)

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audience • co-production • collaboration • cop drama • cross-culturalculturedrama • Eurocops • Europe • Europudding • GermanITV1 • kidnap • Leipzig • media • multi-national • pan-European • patterns of consumptionsoap opera • SOKO • television • The Bill • The GuardianTV • twinning • UK • ZDF

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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