Raking over the Asylum: The television drama of Donna Franceschild

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Abstract

Donna Franceschild was possibly the most prolific writer for television working with Scottish subject matter and from a Scottish base during the 1990s and early 2000s. After her 1991 The Play on One debut, And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon, she had a further four series – Takin’ Over the Asylum (1994), A Mug’s Game (1996), Eureka Street (1999), The Key (2003) – and one feature-length television film, Donovan Quick (2000), successfully produced for network broadcast. Yet despite this sustained period of prolific screen production, its notable contemporaneous critical success (BAFTA Scotland, BAFTA and Royal Television Society awards were won for the works listed above), and her ongoing activity as a stage and radio dramatist, Franceschild to date remains a conspicuous absence from the critical literature on Scottish screen cultures and histories, some brief discussion in Duncan Petrie’s 2004 monograph Contemporary Scottish Fictions excepted. This essay develops an initial overview of some of the central themes and creative methods in Franceschild’s screen work, focusing, for example, on the latter’s extended exploration of Scottish feminine identities and experiences, its recurrent interest in non-normative modes of perception and behaviour, and its attempt to develop a radical political address within popular televisual drama formats. It also attempts to use Franceschild’s work as a vehicle through which to begin exploring and documenting another notable absence within the existing critical literature on Scottish film and television, namely, the tenures of Andrea Calderwood and Barbara McKissack as Heads of Drama at BBC Scotland during the period of Franceschild’s highly visible presence on British television screens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-144
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen
Volume11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2018

Keywords

  • Donna Franceschild
  • television drama
  • Scottish Television
  • Scottish Culture

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