Running Time

Chris Speed, Angelina Karpovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Running Time
Chris Speed and Angelina Karpovich

Running Time is a geographical exploration of television time. Fifty of television’s best series (according to the Guardian newspaper), which have taken audiences on extraordinary extended journeys of imagination, are translated into equivalently-timed car trips around the world.

The split variables of time, distance and speed underpin the digital geographic systems that allow Internet users to calculate routes from one location to another. Online applications such as Google Maps offer ‘turn-by-turn’ navigation across many parts of the planet, as well as providing an estimated length of journey in time. Using average driving times based upon the speed limits of specific roads along a route, the scheduling is offered in hours and minutes and responds to live traffic data to suggest a high level of accuracy. The simplicity of the Newtonian mathematical formula for calculating time, distance or space from the same dimensions, remains a limited interpretation of our geographical experience of place.

As a creative response to the experiential vacuum offered by D/S=T, the authors offer a different temporal currency with which to compare a journey’s length: the duration of a television series depicted as space. Repeated in serial lengths, many of the television series that top the Guardian’s list have provided narrative and geographical escapes at key moments in our lives. Translating them literally into ‘road movies’ offers a sense of the scale that is intentionally incomparable to both the landscapes that they traverse and the contents of the scripts that drive them. Duration as miles not seconds.

Like Simon Patterson's art work The Great Bear (1992) that replaced tube station names on the London Underground with names of footballers, scientists, saints and others, Running Time superimposes a layer of pop-culture references over a graphical representation of space. Whilst Patterson's work infers ‘that the tube map has become its own reality, entirely abstracted from the work it ostensibly represents’ (Moran 2005), Running Time offers a method for understanding the scale of the world by associating the duration of popular media with the distance between places.

Top fifty television drama series ever source: The list has been organised according to the overall running times.
A combination of two automobile mapping technologies were used to calculate the locations and their distance apart according to driving time: and
Routes sourced with the help of students from the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture: Cashel Brown, Kathryn Chung, Atanaska Foteva, Fatemeh Hosseini, Shih-Mei Lee, David McEwen, Sigurd Strøm Nørsterud & Marcus Rothnie.

Moran, J. (2005) Reading the Everyday. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 173.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-141
Number of pages2
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


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