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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Screen performance is characterised by the interaction of performance, place and screen, but has suffered from critical neglect. Most accounts of this collaborative process focus on the performer in front of the camera, rather than the activities going on behind it. This article examines how performance is shaped within the BBC’s Outside Broadcast (OB) drama production paradigm of the 1970s and 1980s. The interactions of performers and camera operators combine to construct onscreen performance, since the generation of the screen frame necessarily ‘frames’ performance both literally and figuratively. Camera operators therefore offer ‘invisible’ performance through their manipulation of the frame and the choreography of their interactions with actors. The article’s key case study is The Mayor of Casterbridge (1978), the BBC’s first drama serial to be made entirely on location on Outside Broadcast (OB) videotape, and also considers OB production on Boys from the Blackstuff (BBC 1982).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-296
JournalCritical Studies in Television
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Douglas McNaughton, Performance, place and screen: ‘Visible’ and ‘invisible’ performance in Outside Broadcast television drama, Critical Studies in Television,13:3, pp. 280-296. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.


  • BBC
  • television drama
  • Outside Broadcast
  • videotape
  • the Mayor of Casterbridge
  • Survivors
  • Boys from the Blackstuff
  • acting
  • performance

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