First Published in 1989, this work is based around a monthly TV column which Raymond Williams wrote for The Listener between 1968 and 1972. Those were the years of the Prague Spring, of anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, of fighting in Cambodia and Northern Ireland, of hope for McGovern in the United States and attacks on the Wilson Labour Government in Britain. In The Listener articles Williams comments on all of these events, providing a rare glimpse not only into the events of his daily life but also into the continuing development of a personal sociology of culture.
The articles also discuss such television forms as detective series, science programmes and sports, travelogue, education, gardening, and children’s programming. The book also includes Williams’ key lecture "Drama in a Dramatised Society", which sets a framework for his analysis; a London Review of Books piece on the Falklands/Malvinas adventure as a "tele-war"; and an interview with Williams on television and teaching.
Cited by The Guardian as "The foremost political thinker of his generation", Williams’ writing amounts to a primer on ways of watching television and of critiquing its profound social and political impact.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Alan O’Connor Part 1: Television: Cultural Form and Politics 1. Drama in a Dramatised Society 2. Distance 3. What Happened at Munich 4. Impressions of U.S. Television Part 2: The Listener Columns: Television Forms and Conventions 5. As We See Others 6. Private Worlds 7. Shoot the Prime Minister 8. The Miner and the City 9. A Moral Rejection 10. A New Way of Seeing 11. Persuasion 12. To the Last Word: on "The Possessed" 13. Personal Relief Time 14. A Noble Past 15. Combined Operation 16. Based on Reality 17. Watching From Elsewhere 18. Crimes and Crimes 19. Death Wish in Venice 20. Science, Art and Human Interest 21. Pitmen and Pilgrims 22. Most Doctors Recommend 23. A Bit of a Laugh, a Bit of Glamour 24. Brave Old World 25. The Green Language 26. The Best Things in Life Aren’t Free 27. There’s Always the Sport 28. Going Places 29. Against Adjustment 30. Back to the World 31. ITVs Domestic Romance 32. Breaking Out 33. Between Us and Chaos 34. The Decadence Game 35. A Very Late Stage in Bourgeois Art 36. Galton and Simpson’s "Steptoe and Son" 37. Being Serious 38. Billy and Darkly 39. Programmes and Sequences 40. Remembering the Thirties 41. Open Teaching 42.Terror 43. Cowboys and Missionaries 44. Careers and Jobs 45. China-Watching 46. An English Autumn 47. Judges and Traitors 48. Sesame Street 49. Three Documentaries 50. The Question of Ulster 51. Culture 52. Old Times and New: On Solidarity 53. Hardy Annuals 54. Where Does Rozanov Come In? 55. The Golden Lotus 56. Hassle 57. Natural Breaks 58. Ad Hominem 59. Versions of Webster 60. Intellectual Superiority 61. Why is the BBC like "Monty Python’s Flying Circus" 62. The Top of the Laugh 63. Isaac’s Urges Part 3: An Interview with Raymond Williams 64: Television and Teaching