Science Fiction Film & Television

A condition of England

The critique of racism, sexism and the ‘back to nature’ movement in the BBC's adaptation of Peter Dickinson's ‘The Changes’ novels

Science Fiction Film & Television (2013), 6, (2), 253–279.

Abstract

The Changes, the BBC's 1975 adaptation of Peter Dickinson's ‘The Changes’ novels, constitutes a direct critique of racism, sexism and the ‘back to nature’ movement in mid-1970s Britain. This article reads the ten-part serial and its source texts as critical responses to anti-immigration legislation and Powellite extremism which offer positive, if necessarily uncomplicated and distinctly qualified, metaphors for England's progress towards a multicultural society. It then considers Dickson's novels and their adaptation as anti-sexist narratives before concluding with an assessment of the serial's scepticism towards any radical green agenda. Throughout, both the novels and the serial are contextualised more broadly in terms of contemporary trends in British children's literature and within changes to BBC children's television production.

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Buckingham, David, Hannah Davies, Ken Jones and Peter Kelley. Children's Television in Britain. London: BFI, 1999. Children's Television in Britain Google Scholar

Caine, Barbara. English Feminism 1780-1980. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. English Feminism 1780-1980 Google Scholar

Carter, Alan B. A Radical Green Political Theory. London: Routledge, 1999. A Radical Green Political Theory Google Scholar

De Souza, Allan. The Sikhs in Britain. London: B. T. Batsford, 1986. The Sikhs in Britain Google Scholar

Dickinson, Peter. The Weathermonger. London: Puffin, 1970. The Weathermonger Google Scholar

Dickinson, Peter. Heartsease. London: Puffin, 1971. Heartsease Google Scholar

Dickinson, Peter. The Devil's Children. London: Puffin, 1972. The Devil's Children Google Scholar

Dixon, Bob. Catching Them Young 1: Sex, Race and Class in Children's Fiction. London: Pluto, 1977. Catching Them Young 1: Sex, Race and Class in Children's Fiction Google Scholar

Goulbourne, Harry. Race Relations in Britain Since 1945. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998. Race Relations in Britain Since 1945 Google Scholar

Hartmann, Paul, and Charles Husband. Racism and the Mass Media. London: Davis-Poynter, 1974. Racism and the Mass Media Google Scholar

Hollindale, Peter. ‘The Adolescent Novel of Ideas’. Only Connect: Readings on Children's Literature. 3rd edn. Ed. Sheila Egoff et al. Ontario: Oxford UP, 1993. 315-28. Only Connect: Readings on Children's Literature 315 28 Google Scholar

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Hunt, Peter. Children's Literature. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001. Children's Literature Google Scholar

Hutchison, Joanna. ‘Peter Dickinson Considered, in and out of the Classroom’. Children's Literature in Education 6.2 (1975): 88-98. ‘Peter Dickinson Considered, in and out of the Classroom’ Children's Literature in Education 6 88 98 Google Scholar

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Malik, Sarita. Representing Black Britain: Black and Asian Images on Television. London: Sage, 2002. Representing Black Britain: Black and Asian Images on Television Google Scholar

Pinsent, Pat. Children's Literature and the Politics of Equality. London: David Fulton, 1997. Children's Literature and the Politics of Equality Google Scholar

‘Race against Time’. Doctor Who: The Mutants DVD extra. BBC, 2011. Google Scholar

Rees, David. Painted Desert, Green Shade: Essays on Contemporary Writers of Fiction for Children and Young Adults. Boston: Hornbook, 1984. Painted Desert, Green Shade: Essays on Contemporary Writers of Fiction for Children and Young Adults Google Scholar

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Sedgewick, Marcus. ‘The Changes’. The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English. Ed. Victor Watson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001. 138. The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English 138 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Singh, Nikky-Guninder Kaur. Sikhism: An Introduction. London: I. B. Tauris, 2011. Sikhism: An Introduction Google Scholar

Stephens, John, and Robyn McCallum, Retelling Stories, Framing Culture: Traditional Satires and Metanarratives in Children's Literature. London: Routledge, 1988. Retelling Stories, Framing Culture: Traditional Satires and Metanarratives in Children's Literature Google Scholar

Stinton, Judith. Racism and Sexism in Children's Books. London: Writers and Readers, 1979. Racism and Sexism in Children's Books Google Scholar

Triggs, Pat. ‘Authorgraph 10 - Peter Dickinson’. Books for Keeps - The Children's Book Magazine Online. Sep 1981. http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/issue/10 Google Scholar

Yates, Jessica. ‘Science Fiction’. International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Ed. Peter Hunt. London: Routledge, 2005. 311-21. International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature 311 21 Google Scholar

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Author details

Wright, Peter

Wright, Peter