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Royal Holloway academics play a part in top 50 TV dramas of all time

Posted on 18/01/2010

Alec Guinness as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The votes are in and the Guardian has announced its list of the 50 greatest TV dramas of all time – six of which might not have appeared on our screens if it had not been for academics at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Professor Jonathan Powell, Head of Media Arts, worked as head of drama at the BBC between 1983 and 1987, and commissioned three of the dramas rated amongst the best by TV Critics. The BBC comedy-drama series 'A Very Peculiar Practice′ was voted as number five. It was first shown in 1986 and was the first major success for screenwriter Andrew Davies, and was inspired by his experiences as a lecturer at the University of Warwick. It was about an idealistic young doctor who was taking up a post as a member of a university medical centre.

Professor Powell was also responsible for launching ‘The Singing Detective’, which was rated in seventh place and Eastenders, which came in at number 48.

He also produced the favourites - ‘Smiley’s People’, which was voted at number 17 and 'Tinker Tailor Solider Spy', which scored number 21, whilst working as a producer for the BBC between 1978 and 1983.

Professor Powell said: ”Obviously I am delighted that several of the drama projects with which I was associated, either as an Executive or as Producer, should be in the Guardian's top 50 of all time.

”Like many of the people corresponding with the Guardian on this subject, I was aghast that they decided to leave out the legendary 'Edge of Darkness' by Troy Kennedy Martin. Still, Mel Gibson loved it so much that he has remade it for the big screen and it'll be in the cinemas later this month - once again directed by Martin Campbell."

Richard Broke, Media Arts, produced 'The Monocled Mutineer' which was voted at number 28, during his television career which began at the BBC in 1973. After a short break in 1980 when he went to ITV, he returned to the BBC and worked there until 1990.

The list was compiled by asking the Guardian’s TV writers Nancy Banks-Smith, Sam Wollaston, Lucy Mangan, Sarah Dempster, Mark ­Lawson, Grace Dent and Richard Vine to rate, and then debate, what they consider the greatest ever series. There was no period restriction, but the dramas had to be series (or serials) rather than one-offs. They marked the titles out of 20 and the scores were averaged, discounting any series that failed to attract at least four voters.

The list in full:

1. The Sopranos
2. Brideshead Revisited
3. Our Friends in the North
4. Mad Men
5. A Very Peculiar Practice
6. Talking Heads
7. The Singing Detective
8. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
9. State of Play
10. Boys From the Blackstuff
11. The West Wing
12. Twin Peaks
13. Queer as Folk
14. The Wire
15. Six Feet Under
16. How Do You Want Me?
17. Smiley's People
18. House of Cards
19. Prime Suspect
20. Bodies
21. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
22. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
23. Cracker
24. Pennies From Heaven
25. Battlestar Galactica
26. Coronation Street
27. The Jewel in the Crown
28. The Monocled Mutineer
29. Clocking Off
30. Inspector Morse
31. This Life
32. Band of Brothers
33. Hill Street Blues
34. The Prisoner
35. St Elsewhere
36. The L Word
37. The Shield
38. Brookside
39. 24
40. The Twilight Zone
41. Pride and Prejudice
42. Red Riding
43. Oz
44. The Street
45. The X-Files
46. Bleak House
47. The Sweeney
48. EastEnders
49. Shameless
50. Grange Hill

For more information on the department of Media Arts visit http://www.rhul.ac.uk/media-arts/


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