Thatcher's thrillers: British television thriller serials of the 1980s

Lavender, Andrew Mark. 1995. Thatcher's thrillers: British television thriller serials of the 1980s. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Thatcher's thrillers: British television thriller serials of the 1980s)
GOL_LavenderA_1995.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (17MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Thatcher's Thrillers is a cultural-materialist account of the development of a television drama genre in Britain during the 1980s.

The thesis initially addresses the fast-changing legislative context of television broadcasting during the Thatcher era and outlines developments in drama formats and programming during this period. It then explores the defining characteristics of the thriller genre as evidenced in a range of texts from different media (short stories, novels, films and television dramas), in order to identify 'abstract' elements of the genre.

Centrally, the thesis examines the 1980s and early-1990s thliller serials themselves, arguing that these constitute one of the most significant forms of television drama during the period. The pre-eminence of a number of these programmes was recognised by the television industry: Edge of Darkness (1985), A Very British Coup (1987), Traffik (1989) and Prime Suspect (1991) all won the BAFTA award for Best Drama Series/Serial for their respective year of transmission. These and a number of other serials constitute an identifiable genre addressing issues of public concern (such as the power of the hidden British establishment, the growth of the nuclear threat and conflicts between large business corporations and ordinary citizens) and contemporary formations of subjecthood (through protagonists whose experiences profoundly alter their sense of personal identity).

Individual chapters of the thesis are devoted to the most noteworthy of these programmes, exploring their aesthetic characteristics and cultural resonances. The thesis also examines the contributions of key individuals, including writers such as Troy Kennedy Martin, Alan Bleasdale, Lynda La Plante and Dennis Potter, who in different ways challenged conventional representations and redefined the form of television drama.

The thesis addresses in conclusion the relationship between narrative and ideology in contemporary thriller serials, arguing that there emerges a set of responses critical of the new imperatives of Thatcherism.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


television broadcasting, drama, Thatcherism


October 1995

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2023 08:22

Last Modified:

08 Aug 2023 13:22


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)