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Which clippings match 'Social Stratification' keyword pg.1 of 1
21 APRIL 2012

The Family: warts-and-all portrait of working-class 1970s Britain

"Modelled on the 13–part observational series, An American Family (US, d. Craig Gilbert, 1972), producer Paul Watson's 12–part The Family (BBC, 1974) is credited with creating the concept of the 'fly–on–the–wall' documentary in Britain. Regardless, Watson's cinema verité–style, warts–and–all portrait of the working–class Wilkins family certainly popularised an 'observational' style still seen as the defining characteristic of British documentary some twenty–five years later.

The Family follows the daily lives of Terry and Margaret Wilkins, their children and their partners, as they all struggle to live together in a small flat in Reading. The series sets out to reveal to viewers the reality of family life in Britain as never shown before. "No TV family ever has dirty pots and pans," says Margaret in episode one, and the Wilkins demonstrate a remarkable candour in their on–camera conversations with one another.

Watson and his small crew spent two months with the Wilkins prior to filming. After this the team filmed the family eighteen hours a day for three months. The result was an extraordinary portrait of family life: honest, hilarious and painful, an instant classic the impact and influence of which (on both fiction and non–fiction television) it would be difficult to overestimate.

The Family divided critics and viewers alike, and the Wilkins were villified by the tabloid press for all manner of imagined transgressions: their 'acting' for the camera or their 'real' behaviour in front of it, their use of bad language and public airing of previously taboo subjects. Watson explained that he "wanted to make a film about the kind of people who never got on to television," and clearly the sight of a powerful and opinionated woman like Margaret Wilkins, or the challenge of daughter Heather to the casual racism of 1970s middle–England, was shocking to a certain section of the British public (Mary Whitehouse was among those who called for the series to be banned, lest this 'representative' family be seen as a model to imitate)."

(Joe Sieder, BFI Screenonline)

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TAGS

1970s1974 • acting for the camera • An American FamilyBBCBritainBritish documentary • candour • casual racismcinema veritecultural signalsdirect cinemadocumentaryfamilyfamily lifefly-on-the-wallFranc Roddam • honest • Margaret Wilkins • Mary Whitehouse • non-fiction televisionobservational seriesobservational style • on-camera conversations • Paul Watsonportraitportrait of a familyportrait of family life • Reading (city) • real behaviourreality television • small flat • social changesocial classsocial constructionismsocial realitysocial stratificationsocietysocio-economictaboo subjectstelevisiontelevision documentarytelevision series • Terry Wilkins • The FamilyThe Family (television)TVUK • warts-and-all • working class

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 DECEMBER 2010

The World of 100: Our Global Village

"If the world were a village of 100 people, what would its composition be? This set of 20 posters is built on statistics about the spread of population around the world under various classifications. The numbers are turned into graphics to give another sense a touch – Look, this is the world we are living in."

(Toby Ng, 2009)

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TAGS

2009 • access to clean water • access to computers • access to education • access to electricity • age demographics • air quality • banana • birth and deathcigarettecloud • comparative data • computer mousecountry and comparative datacrocodile • cultural privilege • datademographicsdifferent strata of societyenergyfoodgender • gender symbol • global populationgraphic communicationHIV • ideogram • infographicsinformation designkangaroolightbulbliteracy • living in fear • match flamemoney • mortarboard • personal freedompictorial statisticspig • pinwheel • pizza • plastic windmill • population statisticsposter design • privilege • religion • ribbon • sexual orientationskin coloursocial commentary • social conscience • social consciousnesssocial inequality • social privilege • social statisticssocial stratificationstatistical informationstatistics • sun glasses • The World of 100 • Toby Ng • villagevisual communicationvisualisation • wind wheel • windmill • windmill spinner • world information • world population • worm • zebra

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 MARCH 2005

Seven Up! Britain's future shown in 7 year intervals

"A group of British children aged 7 from widely ranging backgrounds are interviewed about a range of subjects. Director Michael Apted plans to re–interview them at 7 year intervals to determine how their lives and attitudes have changed. Written by Murray Chapman."

(The Internet Movie Database)

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