A creature not quite of this world: adaptations of Margaret Thatcher on 1980s British television

Harmes, Marcus K. (2013) A creature not quite of this world: adaptations of Margaret Thatcher on 1980s British television. Journal of Popular Television, 1 (1). pp. 53-68. ISSN 2046-9861


Because the image conveyed by Margaret Thatcher was a construct and therefore artificial, what she looked and sounded like easily transferred from reality into heightened layers of parody and satire. But the way Thatcher appeared on a number of 1980s television texts is striking in terms of how her leadership and persona were read within gendered terms. Thatcher herself consistently downplayed the importance of gender or her own femininity. For her, politics functioned on the basis of convictions, principles and economic theories and far from thinking of herself in gendered terms, Thatcher sought to locate her leadership within gender-neutral realms. There is ultimately little to distinguish the actual Thatcher from the parodic Thatcher; this is inevitable for a leader whose image was so artificial. But where there is a major divergence between reality and the adaption of reality is on the question of gender. Parodies of Thatcher on 1980s British television consistently returned Thatcher to gendered realms of conduct, showing her as nanny, ice maiden, warrior queen and often as a type conceptualized by film theorists as the ‘monstrous feminine’. This article explores parodies of Thatcher, showing ways in which, in contrast to Thatcher’s own insistence on gender neutrality, comedic and parodic works that were supposedly avant-garde or alternative in fact resorted to highly traditional gender types as the only way to make sense of Margaret Thatcher.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - No Department
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2013 06:26
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2014 04:59
Uncontrolled Keywords: Thatcher, political satire, gender representation, British politics, Spitting Image, The Comic Strip Presents, The Lenny Henry Show, Doctor Who
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190204 Film and Television
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210305 British History
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1386/jptv.1.1.53_1
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/23152

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