Monday, 20 January 2014

TV for Research; Entangled Submissions

Old Mangle
I make no secret of the fact I love watching TV dramas or the occasional good series or film. Apart from enjoyment, it's my way of relaxing in the evening, before finishing the day with whatever book I'm reading. That last part is essential to make me sleepy, as the TV would keep my mind stimulated too much without a quiet period before bed.

But what a great resource it is for research, especially different periods of history. As well as the wonderful visuals of fashion, furniture and transport, many of the programmes point to the wider issues of the day. Whether through politics, women's lives, relationships, we often have the whole gamut of society paraded before us.

In just one week, I've taped or watched the following:

The Three Musketeers - I taped this last night and can't wait to watch this new version. I studied European history through several centuries and love this enjoyable escapade in 17th century France. I imagine Peter Capaldi will make a good Richelieu.

Mr Selfridge - the previous series took us from the turn of the century to the new series beginning last night at the cusp of the Great War in 1914 with news of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. What a lavish set with stunning outfits and the historical background of a real iconic store.

Father Brown - I've been taping this afternoon programme to watch while ironing. I love the nostalgia of the English country setting in the early 50s, and the clothes worn by women from servants to the local Lady. I'm also interested in old cars!

The Bletchley Circle - beside the obvious pleasure of the post-war setting and solving mysteries, I love the occasional flash-back to the secret war work at Bletchley Park. This is also good for noting the fashions ordinary women now wore, and the difference between the lives of the single females and the highly intelligent woman who was now expected to be a stay at home wife and mother.

Call the Midwife - everyone's favourite nostalgia story about late 1950s midwives in London's East End. Here we have a great variety of characters and situations from the period and last night's episode even gave us a historical context for the recognition of Cystic Fibrosis. A great combination of human stories and medical/health issues as we start to leave the 50s behind.

And these don't include Downton Abbey and The Paradise - another two programmes useful for visual research!


If anyone is inspired by all the 1950s nostalgia, you might want to try writing and submitting a novella to Entangled who have put out a call for stories of 15,000 to 20,000 words set between 1950 and 1959. See the full details for Love me Tender submissions on the Entangled website. Closing date is 31st March 2014.

Good luck,


Patsy said...

TV probably can be a good start to research of a time period, but it is only a start, especially if the probramme we've seen is fiction.

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Rosemary, thank you for posting an opportunity to submit. I agree the tv historicals are a good place to start visual research. Always keeping an eye for the absurd, of course. I remember one Austen film with crinolines.Anne Stenhouse

Wendy's Writing said...

With Sky plus, it's really easy now to save something for research or rewind (you know what I mean) to check it out properly. Before I had it, interesting things would pass by too quickly.

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Carolb said...

I love watching films and TV programmes set in past times, though you do have to be choosy as some pay scant regard to accuracy or near accuracy even.

Saw an interview with the actors who are playing the Musketeers on BBC Breakfast last week, and they were asked about walking around with the swords, and after the initial trips how they got used to wearing them and sitting down with them and so on.

Jenny Harper said...

Didn't realise there was so much good TV at the moment, Rosemary. How will I ever get any writing done?!

Mary Smith said...

Lots of my favourites there, Rosemary. I do watch Mr Selfridge but have to say I prefer The Paradise. Haven't watched the Bletchley one, but may now do on your recommendation.

Anonymous said...

The Musketeers was excellent, Rosemary. I hope you enjoy it!

Jean Bull said...

I love Call the Midwife, Rosemary. I might just have a look at the Entangled submissions!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Absolutely, Patsy!

I've seen programmes like that too, Anne!

I don't have that, Wendy, so I have to watch carefully at the time or tape it for later.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

You're quite right, of course, Carol - but they're fun to watch!

That can be a problem, Jenny!

Think I preferred The Paradise too, Mary!

Good to know that, Helena - thanks!

You should have a go, Jean!

Joanna said...

I love Call The Midwife and anything set in the fifties. I must catch up with the others you've mentioned as well. I really like the period details in these programmes. My mother, who is 86, says Call The Midwife is spot-on for authenticity. I love the thought of writing a novella for Entangled and shall go across now and have a look. Many thanks, Rosemary x

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It's good to hear your mother's comment, Joanna! You should try the Entangled novella.