Personal profile

Research interests

My research is primarily concerned with British television drama’s uses of space and place. Critical orthodoxies suggest that British television negotiated a transition from ‘theatrical’ to ‘cinematic’ drama, characterised by the move from studio to location, from videotape to film/digital, 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. More recently my publications have focused on screen production and performance, Cold War spaces on screen, and representations of Scottish national identity. I have particular research interests in television production spaces and technology, television drama, British telefantasy, British folk horror, and performance on screen.

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, Beyond the Screen, Contemporary Issues in Screen Studies, British Television Drama, and Final Year Workshop. I have been a member of the University of Brighton School Academic Scrutiny Committee, of the School Research Ethics Panel, and am currently Student Engagement lead and Research Ethics and Integrity lead for the School of Art and Media and a member of Cross-School Research Ethics Committee C. From 2016-21 I was external examiner on the Television Production BA at the University of Westminster.

I have co-organised the following conferences: 

TV Londons: Exploring Representations of London on Television conference, University of Westminster, 28-29 July 2022

Carry On Camping: The Politics of Subversion conference, University of Brighton, September 6 2019

British Medical Television conference, University of Brighton July 27-28 2017

Becoming Scotland: Screen Cultures in a Small Nation, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, August 28-29 2014


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 or mood boarding 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. In sessions on cinematography and screen aesthetics, I let students use LED lights and action figures to allow students a 'playful pedagogic' engagement with 3-point lighting techniques to give a low-cost, hands-on understanding of how lighting on screen works. 

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.

In 2021 I was awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in recognition of my learning and teaching activities.

Education/Academic qualification

Fellow (FHEA), Higher Education Academy, UK

Award Date: 14 Oct 2021

PhD, Uses of Space: British Television Drama from Studio to Location, 1955-1982, Queen Margaret University

1 Sept 20081 Jul 2014

Award Date: 1 Jul 2014

Bachelor, Film & Media BA (Hons), Queen Margaret University

1 Sept 200631 Jul 2008

Award Date: 31 Jul 2008

External positions

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

1 Oct 20161 Oct 2021


Dive into the research topics where Douglas McNaughton is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles