Amy Holdsworth, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, University of Glasgow.
Karen Lury, Professor of Film and Television Studies, University of Glasgow
We are based in Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow and over the last twelve months have been talking a lot (as academics are prone to do) between ourselves, with other academics across the UK and with colleagues in the Children’s Department at BBC Scotland about different notions and practices of care in relation to Children’s Media. What does it mean to ‘care for’ or ‘care about’ the production and the audience of children’s media? How does the audience translate that sense of care? And how does children’s media exist as part of a network of caring relations between and within families, homes and communities? For example, we might think of the ways in which the ‘Bedtime Hour’ on CBeebies is integrated into the rhythms and routines of family life offering a structure for a transitional (and potentially difficult and anxious) time in the child’s day.
Certainly within the context of a public service broadcasting there is a clear tradition of an explicit philosophy of caring and nurturing. The BBC – often seen as the ‘sister’ national institution to the NHS - is undergoing a review of its funding and charter through which its fundamental role as the ‘carer’ or nurturer of the national audience is being interrogated by a hostile Conservative government, with cuts threatening the provision of dedicated Children’s channels. For this and other reasons we feel that discussions of ‘care’ have a political agenda – to value care as a material and as an aesthetic practice, and to describe how and where ‘care’ happens.
Currently our research has begun to explore two particular themes: Firstly, inspired by Katie Morag’s relationship with Grannie Island in the CBeebies hit series Katie Morag we are particularly interested in looking at the way in which television programmes made for younger audiences in the British context have explored inter-generational relationships and we consider how closely aligned the very young and the very old are – particularly in their relationship to a domestic medium such as television. This is an alliance we’d like to explore further through research into the use of television as a ‘technology of care’ within the lives of its audiences at either end of the life course.
The second research theme investigates the provision of media content in the UK for children with disabilities. Amy’s early work on this theme explores the implicit and explicit rhetorics of ‘care’ within the remit and content of CBeebies through an analysis of the series Something Special. She hopes to extend this research to address the work of independent producers and commercial broadcasters and the use of children’s media by audiences with disabilities and their families.
It is our hope that this short introduction to some of our research interests and questions might spark a conversation amongst the members of this network to think about the role of care and caring within their own practice and in the consumption of children’s media. We hope that this network might offer a forum to start this conversation and that it could lead to a productive collaborations (in the future) between Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow and the children’s media sector in Scotland.
We hope to be at the next network meeting in November but if you’d like to share any thoughts on these questions and themes please get in touch (email: Amy.Holdsworth@glasgow.ac.uk).