Staff Directory

Prof Stephen Lacey

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BA Hons English & Drama, University of Birmingham
M.Litt Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
University of Birmingham


Main teaching areas:

British film and television
Performing for the small screen
Performance analysis

Research interests:

Post-war British theatre
Television drama

External role

Chair of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD), the professional body representing the UK drama and performance sector in HE.

Current research activity:


Co-director of HEFCE/AHRB Institutional Fellowship, entitled ‘The BBC Wednesday Play Drama Series and Post-War British Dram’. The project researched the BBC Wednesday Play drama series (1964 to 1970), drawing on the Corporation’s Archive at Caversham, Reading. Adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, the research placed the series in the context of developments within British drama and theatre in the post-war period, and investigated and challenged the public perception of the role that the series as a whole (and certain individual plays in particular) played within British culture. The project team also organised a highly successful international conference, ˜On the Boundary: Turning Points in British Television Drama 1965 – 2000 at Reading in April 1998, which brought together leading academics and television professionals. The project produced a range of published outcomes, including Television Drama: Past, Present and Future, (J. Bignell, S.Lacey and M. Macmurraugh-Kavanagh (eds), Palgrave 2000).


Co-director of AHRC-funded research project (with University of Reading and RHUL) entitled ‘Cultures of British TV Drama’. The project combined analytical academic study of British television drama programming 1960-82 (from the ‘Golden Age’ to Channel 4) with institutional and cultural study of the professional contexts of British TV drama in the period, and evaluated research materials relevant to these studies. The research focused particularly on issues of television historiography; production cultures (including interviews with practitioners); marginalized television genres; and drama of, and in, the English regions. The project produced several published outcomes, including Popular Television Drama: Critical Perspectives (J. Bignell and S.Lacey (eds), Manchester University Press, 2005) and Reviewing Television History: Critical Issues in Television History and Historiography (H. Wheatley (ed) I.B.Taurus, 2006). There were several one-day symposia on producing television drama and drama in the regions, and a major international conference (Cultures of British Television Drama, Reading, April 2005).

2010 – 2014

Co-investigator on ‘Spaces of Television: Production, Site and Style’ an AHRC-funded project in collaboration with Professor Jonathan Bignell, University of Reading (PI) and Professor James Chapman, University of Leicester (CI). The project concerns television fiction produced in the UK from 1955-94. It investigates how the material spaces of production (in TV studios and on location) conditioned the aesthetic forms of programmes, and how fictional spaces represented on screen negotiated the opportunities and constraints of studio and exterior space, film and video technologies, and liveness and recording.

Genres of programme studied include popular drama such as the police and adventure series, science fiction, period costume drama and sitcom. The research involves significant archival work, and will produce a historiography of production spaces in British television and connect this spatial and institutional history with a historiography of television style.

Journal editorship

*2006 -

Associate Editor and founding member of Critical Studies in Television (CST), an international, refereed scholarly journal of fictions for the small screen published by SAGE. The journal is supported by a website (cstonline) which is an important resource for students and researchers interested in television drama in the broadest sense.

Selected publications:


The ‘War on Terror’: Post 9/11 Television Drama, Docudrama and Documentary, with Derek Paget (eds), UWP (2014).

Television Drama: Past Present and Future with J. Bignell and M.K. Macmurraugh-Kavanagh (eds) London: Palgrave (2000; second edition 2014)

Life on Mars: from Manchester to New York, with Ruth McElroy (eds) UWP (2012)

Cathy Come Home, BFI/Palgrave, (2010)

Tony Garnett Manchester University Press (2007)

Popular Television Drama: Critical Perspectives with J. Bignell (eds) Manchester: Manchester University Press (2005)

British Realist Theatre: The New Wave in its Context 1956 – 65 London: Routledge (1995)


Blandford, S., Lacey, S., McElroy, R. and Williams, R. (2010) Screening the Nation: Wales
and Landmark Television – Report for BBC Audience Council Wales

Selected book chapters:

Lacey, S. (2011) ‘Terry Johnson’ in Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights ed. Martin Middeke and Alex Sierz, Methuen.

‘Staging the Contemporary: Politics and practice in Post-War Social Realist Theatre’ in Tucker, David (ed), British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (2011)

‘This Life’ for Lavery, D. (ed) Cult Television, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, (2010)

‘Little Britain Live’ in Lockyer, S. (ed) Reading ‘Little Britain’, London: IB Taurus, (2010)

‘When was the Golden Age? – Narratives of loss and decline in some plays by John Osborne, Arnold Wesker and Rodney Ackland’ in Luckhurst, Mary (ed) A Companion to Modern British and Irish Drama , Oxford: Blackwells. (2006).

‘A Practical Realism: McGrath, Brecht, Lukacs and Blood Red Roses’ in Brady, D. and S. Capon (eds) John McGrath: Freedom’s Pioneer, Exeter: Exeter University Press (2005).

‘British Theatre and Commerce: 1979 to 2000’ in B. Kershaw (ed) The Cambridge History of British Theatre Vol 3 Cambridge: CUP, (2004).

’Too Theatrical By Half; film versions of The Admirable Crichton and Look Back in Anger ’: in Mackillop, I. and Sinyard, N. (eds) British Cinema in the 1950s, Manchester University Press, (2003).

‘John Arden and Ben Jonson: Embarrassments to the Tidy Mind’ in Woolland, B. (ed) Jonsonians, London: Ashgate Press, (2003).

‘“Men are Men and that’s all there is to it": Some Images of Masculinity in Post-War British Theatre, with particular reference to the plays of Alan Ayckbourne’ in Kuligowska-Korzeniewska, Anna and Kowalskiewj, Marty (ed) Gender/dramat/teatr , Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu, Lodzkiego, (2001) (translated into Polish).

Selected refereed articles:

Blandford, S. and Lacey, S. (2011) – ‘Screening Wales: portrayal, representation and identity – a case study’, in Critical Studies in Television 6, 2.

Lacey, S. and McElroy, R. (2010) ‘Real Performance? ‘Ordinary’ people and the problem of acting,’ special issue, ‘Acting with Facts’, Studies in Documentary Film, 4 (3): 253-266

‘John McGrath: “Blood Red Roses” and Luckacsian Realism’ in International Journal of Scottish Theatre, Vol. 3 no.2, December 2002.

‘John McGrath: Blood Red Roses and Luckacsian Realism’ in International Journal of Scottish Theatre, Vol. 3 no.2, December 2002.

‘John McGrath: Blood Red Roses and Luckacsian Realism’ in New Theatre Quarterly No 72, November 2002 pp. 325-333.

‘Who Framed Theatre?: The “Moment of Change” in Television Drama’ with Macmurraugh-Kavanagh, M. in New Theatre Quarterly No. 57, Feb 1999, pp 58-74

Examples of recent consultancy and examining:

Co-opted by the Executive of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD) to join a committee to forward nominations to HEFCE of panel and sub-panel (UoA 65) Chairs and sub-panel members for the 2008 RAE.

General Examiner, Faculty of Arts, Aberystwyth University (2011-)

External examiner undergraduate drama theory modules in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University (2007 – 10).

External examiner BA Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies, University of Reading (2007 – 10)

External examiner for PhDs at the Universities of London (RHUL) (2001, 2003 and 2006), Sheffield (2001, 2004 and 2010), York University (2011) and Central Lancashire (2004).

Validator of external examiners for Central School of Speech and Drama on behalf of the Open University (2000 – 2005).

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