A book, written by BU researcher Patricia Holland, examines how changes to the public services, and the shifts in the concept of ‘the public’ under Margaret Thatcher’s three Conservative governments were mediated by radio and television in the 1980s.
The very idea of ‘public service’ came under fierce attack in the Thatcherite 1980s. In a notorious interview in 1987 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared ‘There’s no such thing as society’. That statement, which has echoed down the decades, became the starting point for this study.
The BU research project ‘There’s no such thing as society?’ and the book, Broadcasting and the NHS in the Thatcherite 1980s, focus on this challenge to public service. They trace the roots of the present crisis in broadcasting and the NHS through the heated debates and political pressures, which led, in 1990, to two pivotal Acts of Parliament.
The changing attitudes are captured through the broadcast programming of the 1980s. From popular drama and comedy to documentaries and investigative journalism, programmes reflected the politics of the decade.
The research follows the NHS from the Winter of Discontent to the Aids crisis; and the transformations in the broadcasting landscape, from the coming of Channel Four to the restructuring of the BBC.
The 1980s were a seminal decade in UK history
They planted roots of the present crisis of public service
Broadcasting and the NHS in the Thatcherite 1980s: The Challenge to Public Service is published by Palgrave Macmillan Summer 2013. It is written by Patricia Holland, with Hugh Chignell and Sherryl Wilson.