This course will examine contemporary British factual program-making, and its enormous impact on the medium of television, both in the UK and globally. From the earliest days of broadcasting, the British eschewed the American market-led model which allowed corporate interests to drive programming decisions. Instead the British television system has been developed according to the belief that broadcasting should inform and educate the public, as well as entertain. The nurturing of nonfiction storytelling has been critical to this ethos, and documentaries have always occupied a significant space in television schedules. Students will examine the rich history of British factual programming, and how it is used to reflect and document every aspect of life in the UK. They will become acquainted with the enormous range of factual subgenres, such as animated, musical, and authored documentaries. While British documentaries come in all shapes and sizes, a major genre is that of point of view storytelling, in which the film-maker is part of the story. Students will explore this subgenre in depth, culminating in the production of their own short POV documentary. With in-class screenings, visits from independent producers, and field trips, students will leave with an appreciation of the variety of British documentary programming, its role in British culture, and its impact on the rest of the world. Enrollment priority to Newhouse students and other communication majors.
Department: Television Radio & Film
Semesters: Fall, Spring