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Sit Com

Caroline Bagshaw | Thursday June 03, 2010

Categories: GCSE, AQA GCSE, Eduqas (WJEC) GCSE, Television, Situation Comedy, Television Situation Comedy

Sitcom is a genre which has remained successful by reacting to the changing contexts of the times in which it is produced, as well as more recently experimenting with hybridisation in order to attract its audiences.  (Depending on how much time you wish to spend, you could show either clips or episodes, and I have suggested suitable episodes which should be readily available on DVD or possibly Youtube.)

Rooted in the radio variety shows of the 1940s and 1950s, with texts such as “Ray’s A Laugh?, which included an ongoing sketch in which a husband and his wife were in binary opposition in a domestic setting, Hancock’s Half Hour extended this sketch-format, using the predominant media form of the day, radio, in the still-recognisable generic half-hour format on radio (1954 – 58).

In 1953 there were around 2 million TV sets in Britain; by 1958 some 8 million household had television sets.  In 1956, Hancock recognised this context and made the successful transition from radio to TV.  [Could play ‘The Blood Donor’ as an audio. It was actually made for TV, but the point is that you don’t need the vision to appreciate it – it clearly still holds on to its roots of audio-based comedy.]

Context

With the ending of post-war rationing and a society which had become aspirational, Steptoe and Son (1962 – 1974) reflected this desire for a better life, with episodes such as The Bath where Harold is thwarted in his attempts to install an indoor bathroom.

Sitcom’s generic feature of characters trapped by their situation is evident in Harold’s desire to move up in the world which is invariably frustrated by his father Albert’s selfish desire to keep Harold at home caring for him.

In the 1970s the beginnings of the environmentalist movement are reflected and explored when Tom Good gives up his secure job and decided to plough up his own garden and become self-sufficient in Surbiton.

The Good Life (1975 – 1978) maintained the...


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