Ontelly

Archive on 4 - On Northern Men

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Kay Mellor explores the way that northern English masculinities have been portrayed in British film and television, reconciling issues of blatant sentimentality with the real-life social parallels that inform the canon of the past 50 years. She examines fictional portrayals that have changed and diversified, yet stayed much the same in many ways. From the crucial age of the Angry Young Man, marked out in This Sporting Life, she considers the contrasts and similarities between the trapped northern masculine identities portrayed in Kes and Billy Elliot. Kay discovers that the disintegration of traditional northern male stereotypes in fiction leads us also to more diverse explorations, for example, the weak men in Coronation Street, Last of the Summer Wine and Keeping Up Appearances, British-Asian northern masculinities in East is East, the dysfunctional and proud Frank Gallagher in Shameless, and interpretations of homosexual masculinities in Queer as Folk and Jimmy McGovern's The Street. The programme traces the relationship between changing variables of social class, heroism, 'northernness' and fictional portrayals of masculinity in film and television, using supporting material from the radio archive, and remembers some of the humour and creativity that emerges from struggle and the portrayal of difficult lives.