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Personal profile

Research interests

My research is primarily concerned with British television drama’s uses of space and place. Space is important in this research because critical orthodoxies suggest that British television negotiated a transition from ‘theatrical’ to ‘cinematic’ drama in this period, characterised by the move from studio to location, from videotape to film, and from multi-camera to single-camera. The research further explores the interplay of the poetics of space and place: how screen cultures used the resources of production space to construct narrative place. Within that framework I have a particular interest in representations of place, the politics of labour, social spaces, and performance.

Supervisory Interests

Political economy of television production. Aesthetics and narrative in television. Historical development of British television. Representations of space, place and identities in British screen cultures. Science fiction, fantasy and horror, in particular, British folk horror. Telefantasy, world cinema, screen technologies, the sociology of space. Screen acting and performance.

Scholarly biography

Following a career in academic publishing, I was awarded my PhD for my thesis Uses of Space: British Television Drama from Studio to Location, 1955-1982 (awarded 2013 with no amendments). The thesis connects material spaces of television production with dramatic sites and onscreen narrative and aesthetics. Its analysis of the impact of the actors’ union Equity on British television redraws critical paradigms of duopoly-era television production and reshapes the historiography of British television drama. Combining theoretical work and empirical research, my work incorporates archival research alongside an ethnographic approach, interviewing television practitioners including producers, directors, editors and writers within a theoretical framework derived from the sociology of space.

My work addresses research questions such as: how do production space and narrative place intersect? How does production space affect conventions of television narrative and aesthetics? Is the move from studio to location necessarily ‘cinematic’? Proceeding from the position that textual analysis alone is insufficient to explain television aesthetics, the research adopts a multi-methodological approach, combining primary research in the form of original practitioner testimony and archival materials with textual analysis of case studies in order to develop a poetics of television. It uses an innovative theoretical framework derived from the sociology of place to understand the interplay of space and place on screen. My article ‘Constipated, studio-bound, wall-confined, rigid’: British Actors’ Equity and BBC Television Drama, 1948-1972 (2014) redraws critical understandings of duopoly-era television production and reshapes the historiography of British television drama.

I have taught on courses such as Introduction to Media Studies, Foundations of Marketing, Culture and Society, Film and Creativity, Cinema and Modernity, and Contemporary Television undergraduate modules, and regularly guest lectured on fan cultures at Napier University Edinburgh. As a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, I am module leader on Screen Industries, British Television Drama, Television Genres, International Screen Industries, and Final Year Dissertation, and Final Year Workshop. I am a member of the University of Brighton School Academic Scrutiny Committee and am currently external examiner on the Television Production BA theory modules at the University of Westminster. I have particular research interests in audience and subcultural studies, television production spaces and technology, television drama, British telefantasy, British folk horror, and performance on screen.

Approach to teaching

In order to internationalise the Film and Screen Studies curriculum, in my first semester at Brighton I developed a Level 6 module called International Screen Industries. This introduces students to a range of non-Anglophone screen cultures, setting them in their national, historical and political contexts. As part of an ongoing commitment to developing employability at Brighton, in my second year I developed a Level 4 module called Screen Industries, designed to allow students to explore both the theoretical underpinnings of the screen industries, and (with input from practitioners) the actual jobs available within those industries. 

Teaching screen cultures inevitably involves consideration of creativity. In order to encourage and test critical engagement with screen cultures I often ask students to devise a proposal based on the particular screen form under discussion. This may involve storyboarding a proposed example, allowing students to express themselves more conceptually and visually than traditional literature-based seminar work, or the ‘two-minute pitch’, where students propose a format, script or other media idea to a putative producer or funder. This allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the form, ability to translate that understanding into a creative format, and practise their presentation and interview skills in a supportive environment.

Encouraging students to connect their own cultural interests with relevant theoretical frameworks also allows students to demonstrate their cultural capital in ways that are personally empowering and potentially offer academic originality.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Queen Margaret University

1 Sep 20081 Jul 2014

Bachelor, Queen Margaret University

1 Sep 200631 Jul 2008

External positions

External Examiner, University of Westminster Television Production BA, University of Westminster

1 Oct 20161 Oct 2020

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Television Drama Arts & Humanities
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Research Output 2010 2018

Cold War Spaces: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in television and cinema

McNaughton, D., 1 Jun 2018, In : Journal of British Cinema and Television. 15, 3, p. 375-395

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Cold War

Performance, place and screen: ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ performance in 1970s Outside Broadcast television drama

McNaughton, D., 21 Aug 2018, In : Critical Studies in Television. 13, 3, p. 280-296

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Television Drama

'Visible' and 'invisible' performance: framing performance in 1970s television drama

McNaughton, D., 31 May 2018, Exploring Television Acting. Cantrell, T. & Hogg, C. (eds.). London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearchpeer-review

Television Drama

‘I’m Scottish… I can really complain about things now’: Discourses of Scotland and Scottishness in Doctor Who

McNaughton, D., 1 Dec 2018, Doctor Who: Twelfth Night: Adventures in Time and Space with Peter Capaldi. O'Day, A. (ed.). London: I.B.Tauris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearch


‘Def-i-nitely back’: subversion of Kailyard and Clydeside in Charles Endell Esquire

McNaughton, D., 20 Nov 2017, In : Visual culture in Britain. 18, 3

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access