"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)
"The CSD library pages contain reports, links and resources that can be accessed to provide those practicing, using and studying design with insights and knowledge of the design sector and its inter-relationship with commerce and society."
(Chartered Society of Designers, UK)
"Welcome to BFI InView. Here you will find over 2,000 non-fiction film and television titles from the 20th century to the early 21st. InView is easily searchable, comprehensively catalogued and clearly organised under six main Themes, each with an introductory essay by an academic historian."
(British Film Institute, 2009)
"Today the BFI announces the completion of Phase One of a ground breaking project to give academics, teachers, students and researchers free online access to hundreds of hours of film and television. Available through the BFI National Archive these clips tell the complex social, economic and political history of Britain in the 20th century.
Funded by JISC as part of its digitisation programme, 'BFI InView: Moving Images in the Public Sphere' comprises more than 600 hours of full-length films and television programmes, alongside over 8,000 pages of related documents that have been digitised and made exclusively available to colleges and universities via a dedicated website. Accessible through federated access management, meaning users can view the materials with a single sign-on, the BFI InView site is easily searchable with materials catalogued and organised under six main categories: education, health, the environment, immigration, race and equality, industry and economy, law and order"
(BFI National Archive, 29 May 2009)
"Connected Histories brings together a range of digital resources related to early modern and nineteenth century Britain with a single federated search that allows sophisticated searching of names, places and dates, as well as the ability to save, connect and share resources within a personal workspace."
(University of Hertfordshire, University of London, University of Sheffield, 2011)
Fig.1 "The photograph shows the beach at Cromer in Norfolk, which features in Emma (1816) as 'The best of all the sea-bathing places'. A small fishing village then, noted for its crabs, by 1887 the railway had arrived. The pier (which still stands) was built in 1901." Martin (Manuscripts Cataloguer), Caird Library