Screening the Nation: Landmark television and the representation of a small bilingual nation

Rebecca Williams, Ruth McElroy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The role of the media in stateless nations, particularly with regard to national representation, is the focus of this paper. It emerges from collaborative research undertaken by us with the BBC Trust and BBC Audience Council Wales in which we set out to examine how recent quality television drama productions, including Dr Who, and Torchwood , have impacted upon both the representation of Wales, and its capital city Cradiff, on the small screens of Wales, the UK, and via the global trade in television, internationally. Wales is one of the nations comprising the United Kingdom that took on new devolved powers and its own assembly government in 1999, giving it a formal measure of autonomy from the UK government in London. Whilst the role and status of BBC Wales within the wider UK structure of the BBC as a whole has undergone a number of radical changes during its lifetime, recent years have seen significant growth in the profile of its activities both nationally and internationally. The BBC announced that it is committed to sourcing 50% of all network TV programming from the UK nations and regions beyond London by 2016, and this is likely to render the Welsh capital a key production base for the UK as a whole. At the same time, however, the government’s policy of digital switchover, in which the analogue signal of terrestrial channels will be switched off, is posing particular challenges to Wales’ sole Welsh-language broadcaster, Sianl Pedwar Cymru (S4C), for whom BBC Wales produces several hours of programming. In such a context, where political, TV production, and linguistic change is reshaping the broadcasting ecology, our study draws on substantial empirical audience research to explore how audiences understand the relationship between on-screen representation and their own cultural identities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010
Event ECREA European Communication Conference - University of Hamburg
Duration: 1 Oct 20101 Oct 2010


Conference ECREA European Communication Conference


  • welsh media
  • television
  • bbc wales


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