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Palgrave Macmillan

The Vision of a Nation

Making Multiculturalism on British Television, 1960-80

ISBN 9780230292970
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

The Vision of a Nation tells the stories behind television's approaches to race relations, multiculturalism and immigration in the 'Golden Age' of British television. Focusing on the 1960s and 1970s, it argues that the makers of television frequently tried hard to shape multiculturalism and undermine racist extremism, believing that the media had a responsibility to mould the nation's vision of itself. Looking at popular fiction, non-fiction and programmes for minorities, Schaffer probes the impact of genre on television's approaches to race relations and multiculturalism, arguing that different conventions, restrictions and aims ensured radically different impacts.
At its core, The Vision of a Nation considers the politics, principles and prejudices behind television's interventions on multiculturalism, and probes the outputs of programmes on British audiences as well as the relationship between the makers of television and British politicians, activists and the public. Ultimately, the book argues that television's approach to race relations was highly influential and has done much to shape the evolution and self-images of multicultural Britain.

Gavin Schaffer is Professor of Modern History at the University of Birmingham, UK. His previous books include Racial Science and British Society, 1930-62 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

1. The Vision of a Nation: Introduction
2. The First Bridge: Programmes for Immigrants on British Television
3. Race in News and Current Affairs: Principles and Practice
4. Dealing with Racial Extremes: News and Current Affairs under Pressure
5. What's behind the Open Door? Talking Back on Race in Public-Access Broadcasting
6. The Rise and Fall of the Racial Sitcom: Laughter and Prejudice in Multicultural Britain
7. Struggling for the Ordinary: Race in British Television Drama
8. Conclusion


"Schaffer's training and expertise comes through in the carefully constructed chronological narratives in the individual chapters which he writes. ... The book tells us much about the power of television, the attitudes of the elites who controlled TV and the inherent nature of racism in post-war Britain. It would be impossible to teach a course on contemporary Britain without using The Vision of a Nation." - Contemporary British History
"Schaffer's study ... builds on existing work by scholars like Sarita Malik, Stephen Bourne, Karen Ross and Darrell Newton, but adds a good deal that is new, in what is a well-researched, copiously referenced and excellently presented historical account." - European Journal of Communication
"The sources used are extensive and impressive. ... [A] very readable and thoroughly researched volume on a complex and often contentious topic. It should be of interest to students and researchers of media and cultural studies together with historians of modern Britain." - Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
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