Paranoid visions

Spies, conspiracies and the secret state in British television drama

By Joseph Oldham

Paranoid visions


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9415-0
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: June 2017
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Media studies, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: general, Society & social sciences / Espionage & secret services, Television, Media studies, Literary studies: general, Theatre Studies, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / History & Criticism, Espionage & secret services, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, The arts / Television


Paranoid visions explores the history of the spy and conspiracy genres on British television, from 1960s Cold War series through 1980s conspiracy dramas to contemporary 'war on terror' thrillers. It analyses classic dramas including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Edge of Darkness, A Very British Coup and Spooks. This book will be an invaluable resource for television scholars interested in a new perspective on the history of television drama and intelligence scholars seeking an analysis of the popular representation of espionage with a strong political focus, as well as fans of cult British television and general readers interested in British cultural history.


Joseph Oldham is Associate Fellow in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick


1 'A balance of terror': Callan (ITV, 1967-72) as an existential thriller for television
2 'A professional's contest': procedure and bureaucracy in Special Branch (ITV, 1969-74) and The Sandbaggers (ITV, 1978-80)
3 'Who killed Great Britain?': Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (BBC 2, 1979) as a modern classic serial
4 Conspiracy as a crisis of procedure in Bird of Prey (BBC 1, 1982) and Edge of Darkness (BBC 2, 1985)
5 Death of a master narrative: the battle for consensus in A Very British Coup (Channel 4, 1988)
6 The precinct is political: espionage as a public service in Spooks (BBC 1, 2002-11)

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