Planning: Oral History on TV

History began to appear on British TV screens in the 1960s, but has really taken off in the past two decades in the guise of various historical dramas, reality shows and celebrity or presenter-led documentaries. As a result, oral history in particular has developed a place for itself in mass-consumed television; but there have been big changes in how oral history is used within these programs. I am curious about the various ways in which oral history has been incorporated into popular mainstream television culture today.

I intend to track the development of oral history on television, highlighting instances where moving towards the visual medium has benefitted the presentation of oral history, and in turn, where it has provided more of a challenge. I also will look at how video recording can affect the interview and how that affects the whole process. Although it presents its own concerns and considerations, I believe that visual oral history can solve some of problems associated with the communication of traditional history – such as the issue of authenticity – on television in general.

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