Did a wonderful interview on Wednesday with Maggie Thomas, a television make-up designer who worked for ATV and then the BBC on such programmes as Poldark (1976), All Creatures Great and Small (1978), Boys from the Blackstuff (1982) and Sophia and Constance (1988) …read her book Dishing the Dirt available on Amazon and find out about the amazing creative work that is involved in bringing television drama to life. Women have worked in all areas of television production, behind as well as in front of the cameras and this work should be acknowledged; television design is an essential element of television production and should be more widely recognised as such.

This Friday, the project will be talking to Jenni Murray on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, from 10.00.

In the studio will also be a longstanding female television presenter, to join in the conversation about the important roles women have played in our national television history, as well as about the television that has been made specifically with them in mind.

Tune in from 10.00 this Friday…..

Welcome to the blog for the AHRC-funded project ‘A History of Television for Women in Britain, 1947-1989’, running from 2010-2013. The project team is Mary Irwin, Rachel Moseley and Helen Wheatley (University of Warwick), Hazel Collie and Helen Wood (De Montfort University).

Our project investigates British television’s provision of programming of all genres addressed directly to an audience of women from its restart after the war in 1947 to the end of the terrestrial period in 1989, an historical period which saw significant social change in relation to women’s lives, the reorganisation of gender relations, the home and consumption. We are looking at production context, programme texts themselves where they still exist (or reconstructed from paper traces where they don’t) but we are also consulting the audience for this television through interviews with women of different generations and regions across Britain. One of our main aims is to have an impact on archiving policies and to raise awareness about women’s television history and about the important women who have contributed to it: this is a project with a clear feminist agenda. The project team will use this blog to share ideas, research news and to talk about project events. We particularly hope that visitors will share their own thoughts about and memories of women’s television in response.

Today I had a conversation with the granddaughter of Hazel Adair. Hazel, now 91 years old, was a pioneering television writer whose work often focused on and addressed women, and was also head of the Writer’s Guild in the 1960s. Hazel wrote the first daily soap opera, Sixpenny Corner (ITV, 1955), Compact (BBC, 1962) a drama about women working in  a magazine office, as well as Emergency-Ward 10(ATV, 1957) and, perhaps most famously, with Peter Ling, Crossroads (ATV, 1964-1988). Surprisingly, Hazel has NEVER been honoured for her ground-breaking work on television, though her work addressed women’s issues, for which she often had to fight, including the struggles of working women, long before it might be imagined that such questions were addressed on television in dramas like Sex and the City and Mad Men. Hazel wrote the first black character,  the first unmarried mother (Compact) and the first regular black character (Crossroads) on British television, as well as the first black/white kiss on television ANYWHERE, her granddaughter tells me; it speaks volumes, about women’s history in general and women’s television history in particular, that this pioneering television writer has not been recognised by the British Television Industry.

There should be BAFTA and Royal Television Society Awards for Hazel Adair.

On Saturday 8th October, 2011 at the Phoenix Arts Centre, Leicester, the project team are hosting an afternoon event, ‘Career Girls on the Small Screen’, which looks at British women’s programming of the 1960s and early 1970s which represented women’s experiences in the workplace and the city. The event will include screenings of CompactThe Rag Trade (1961) and The Liver Birds (1969), introductions from academics, guests and, we hope, a filmed interview with Hazel Adair. The afternoon will end with a drinks reception and a screening of the 2010 film, Made in Dagenham.

Join us to celebrate the history of women’s television in Britain and the work of a ground-breaking female television writer.