AbstractsPolitical Science

Joking apart: an analysis of the impact of television satire has had upon the British political landscape 1962-1990

by Spencer Harris

Institution: University of Birmingham
Department: Department of History
Year: 2015
Keywords: DA Great Britain; JF Political institutions (General); JN101 Great Britain; PN1990 Broadcasting
Record ID: 1404764
Full text PDF: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5615/


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the effects that television satire has had upon the British political landscape. It argues that political satire in Britain has provided a compelling and robust form of political commentary, and in fact, offers a key reading into British politics which academics often ignore. To do so, this dissertation uses key television satires – That Was The Week That Was, Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister and Spitting Image – from across the period which form the crux of three case studies. In addition to this, there are several secondary themes that are explored which include: the death of deference, political bias, and the changes in taboo in relation to the rise of alternative comedy. Furthermore, Freud’s relief theory will be deployed to support the arguments about the power of laughter and comedy. It is concluded that television satire has shaped the political landscape in a distinct way. It has changed the way we view politicians and how we hold them to account. Furthermore, television satire has had an enabling effect insofar that it uses humour in a rebellious way against authority which helps vent our frustrations with the political leaders of the day.