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Life on Mars - Media Studies [A Level, OCR] by


LOM - Life on Mars
PSB - Public Service Broadc­aster

Promot­ional art

Featuring (from left to right) Gene Hunt (Phillip Glenis­ter), Sam Tyler (John Simm), Annie Cartwright (Liz White)

Key Facts

- First release: 9th January 2006, 9pm (Water­shed)
- Dual time zone narrative - storyline takes place both in 2009 and 1973.
- Total of 2 seasons, 16 episodes overall.
- Produced by Kudos Film for BBC Wales
- Genre: Crime drama (Scri-fi, hybrid)
- Themes: Violence, comedy, action, mystery, aggression
- Settings: Police depart­ment, interr­ogation room, briefing room, infirmary, the streets, crime scene, police car.

This product is one of the options studied for
Section A: Television option at AS and alongside
an episode of The Bridge at A Level. The set
product is the first episode of Series 1 broadcast
on BBC One at 9pm on 9th January 2006

Life on Mars is a police procedural crime drama
set in Manchester in a dual time zone – 2006 and

The programme has an intere­sting an original plotline whereby, after an accident, young detective Sam Tyler wakes up in 1973. The consequent episodes are a 21st century account of 1970s life through his bewildered eyes. Jane Feathe­rstone, executive producer eof the programme said at the time of broadcast: "Life on Mars is a fantastic idea which takes the cop show genre and gives it a unique, humorous and irresi­stible twist. By taking a character of our time and throwing him headfirst into our recent past, it gives us a chance to explore what makes us who we are today."­

It was produced by Kudos Film/TV for BBC Wales having originally been turned down by Channel 4.
Several global versions have been produced.

Social Differ­ences

- More discri­min­ation against minorities in 1970s.
- More racism, homophobia and sexism.
- Financial discri­min­ation against women
- Women having bank accounts was seen as a high-risk investment by banks.
- Gay marriage wasn't legal
- Sam Tyler "goes back in time" with the values of the modern world (treats women equally, as we see with Annie)
- Social differ­ences of 1970s and 2000s presents juxtap­osition with the audience.


- Filmed in urban areas
- Hyper-­mas­culine characters
- Violence > words
- Sci-fi - unbeli­evable
- Classic "men drinki­ng" storyline - flawed protag­onist
- "Gut instin­ct" main character trope.
- "­Eve­rything clicks in place" moments
- Often displays reckless behaviour
- Dramatic chase scenes
- Themes of violence, comedy, action, mystery, aggression
- Indivi­duals are repres­ented as rowdy, and the possible detectives might be given permission to take whatever action they need to.
- Binary opp in detectives (good-cop, bad-cop trope)
- Over-t­he-top explosions and chase scenes
- Closed narrative - issue is resolved within same ep
- Crime procedural - crime is committed and solved by end of episode.
- Women are clearly sexual­ised.
- Dominant and hetero­nor­mative men - emotion is shunned.

- Enigma 1: Who is the killer?
- Enigma 2: how did Sam "go back in time"?
- Enigma 3: are the crimes connected (1973/­2006)?


- Tracking shots
- POV Shots
- Two-shots
- Close-ups
- Extreme close-ups
- Camera tilts
- Panning
- Long-shots
- Over-t­he-­sho­ulder
- Shallow focus
- Deep focus
- Zoom-out
- Zoom-in
- Slow motion
- Shot from below
- Birdeye view

Media Industries

Processes of produc­tion, distri­bution and circul­ation by organi­sat­ions, groups and indivi­duals in a global context.

The BBC has a public service remit the essence of which echoes Lord Reith, the founder of the BBC, who first said that the role of a public service broadc­aster was to inform, educate and entertain.
The aim of the BBC is to be impartial and indepe­ndent and to produce high quality programmes for a diverse range of audiences.
Every ten years the vision for the BBC is set out in The Royal Charter, the last one being in 2016. The Charter sets out the BBC's five public purposes:
- To provide impartial news and inform­ation to help people understand and engage with the world around them.
- To support learning for people of all ages.
- To show the most creative, highest quality and distin­ctive output and services.
- To reflect, represent and serve the diverse commun­ities of all of the United Kingdom's nations and regions and, in doing so, support the create economy across the United Kingdom.
- To reflect the United Kingdom, its culture and values to the world.

LOM is a mainstream programme from a popular genre. It was produced by Kudos Film and Televi­sion, an indepe­ndent British production company, broadcast by the BBC and distri­buted by BBC Worldwide. The programme was nominated for a range of awards including the 2008 BAFTAS for Best Drama Series, Best Production Design and Best Sound (Ficti­on/­Ent­ert­ain­ment). In 2006 it won an Intern­ational Emmy for Best UK Drama Series.

The success of LOM over two series is an example of how the BBC as a mainstream broadc­aster, whilst engaging in risk and producing new, innovative progra­mmes, also relies on the repetition of successful formats to secure audiences in an increa­singly compet­itive media landscape. The production of the contin­uation series "­Ashes to Ashes" built on the successful formula of LOM as a recogn­isable brand, whilst introd­ucing a new narrative.

A third and final series of the programme set in Manchester and London the 70s, 80s and the present was rumoured in April 2021, further illust­rating the continued appeal of the programme.

The programme has high production values for a television series, evident in the choice of locations, the cinema­tog­raphy and the actors including John Simm, Philip Glenister and Liz White.

LOM had a wide global distri­bution and an adaptation of the programme was produced by ABC in America and other countries including Spain and Russia.

-- Signif­icance of economic factors, including commercial and not-fo­r-p­rofit public funding to media industries and their products --

Television companies operate either a publicly funded or commercial broadc­asting model. The BBC is a public service broadc­aster, funded by the license fee, with a remit to inform, educate and entertain, and this influences what is produced.
The funding arrang­ement allows the BBC some aspect of freedom as they are less driven by ratings and profit. The BBC's relative autonomy enables it to offer a diverse range of progra­mming content and crime dramas are an important element of its content and schedule.

The BBC does also have commercial operations which supplement the licence fee enabling new progra­mming. These include BBC Studios, a global production company and distri­butor.

The BBC does have an element of govern­mental control and there is an ongoing discussion centred around the contin­uation of the licence fee, which is set by the govern­ment, with some members unhappy about the BBC's funding model. However, there is consid­erable support from the public, the arts and entert­ainment industry and sections of the government for what is seen as the essential role played by the public service broadc­aster.

-- Signif­icance of patterns of ownership and control, including conglo­merate ownership, vertical integr­ation and divers­ifi­cation --

The BBC is a vertically integrated organi­sation, it has an in-house production company BBC Studios which has seven production bases in the UK and other global bases in partne­rship with other countries. BBC Studios is:
"Home to the very best of British creati­vity. Combining the strengths of the UK's most-a­warded production company and a world-­class distri­butor, we are an unrivalled creator of- and investor in- UK programmes reaching audiences around the world."­

BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide merged in 2017 integr­ating produc­tion, sales and distri­bution.
Previo­usly, BBC Worldwide had been respon­sible for financing and distri­buting BBC content and BBC Studios was respon­sible for produc­tion.
Under the one name, BBC Studios now covers all aspects including develo­ping, financing, producing and marketing content as well as distri­buting it across a range of global platforms.

-- How media organi­sations maintain, through marketing, varieties of audience nationally and globally --

LOM, as a completely new programme, had to target and appeal to a range of audiences. However, as part of the marketing campaign, the typical codes and conven­tions of crime dramas were used to establish the programme within a genre recogn­isable to audiences.
The marketing campaign was created by Amanda & Paul from Red Bee Media and consisted of:

- Establ­ishing a brand for the programme throughout the marketing material based on intert­extual references to the 1970s so introd­ucing the enigma of the dual time setting. This includes obvious simila­rities with the 1970s police progra­mmes, for example The Sweeney and The Profes­sio­nals.

- Trailers featuring the 1970s BBC ident of the globe accomp­anied by the tradit­ional BBC font and the test card. One trailer featured Gene Hunt speaking from an old television set. Another used Sam Tyler's voiceover to introduce the narrative twist to appeal the audience.

- A teaser trailer used an intert­extual link by portraying Sam Tyler as a character from Camberwick Green, a 1970s children's television programme.

- A poster featured Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler in front of a 1970s Ford Cortina with the tagline "Back in the Nick of Time". The Iconog­raphy of the poster including the retro font style and the charac­ter's clothing establ­ished an enigma for the audience.

-- The regulatory framework of contem­porary media in the UK. The role of regulation in global produc­tion, distri­bution, and circul­ation. --

- Television companies and specific channels operate self-r­egu­lation through scheduling decisions, the watershed, and announ­cements at the beginning of programmes giving inform­ation about possible areas of offence. LOM was scheduled at 9pm, this post watershed slot indicates to viewers that the programme may contain content that is unsuitable for children, "­uns­uitable material can include everything from sexual content to violence, graphic or distre­ssing imagery and sweari­ng".

The BBC Board is respon­sible for enduring that the BBC fulfils its mission as detailed in the Royal Charter which sets out the BBC's object, mission and public purposes. It is reviewed and renewed regularly, the current charter began in January 2017 and ends in December 2027.

The BBC is externally regulated by Ofcom which is accoun­table to Parliament and publishes standards which must be adhered to by broadc­asters. One of the duties of Ofcom is to examine specific complaints made by listeners about programmes broadcast on channels that it has licenced.

Where versions of the programme are broadcast in different countries, there may be issues around different regulatory systems. Attitudes of different countries to offensive material including sexual content and swearing may differ and amendments may have to be made of the programme. For example, in the case of LOM, the BBC does not carry advert­ising, but other countries broadc­asting the programme may sell advert­ising. Conseq­uently, the programme may have to be edited to incorp­orate advert­ising breaks.


Regulation - Living­stone & Lunt
The BBC as a public service broadc­aster operates both a consum­er-­based regulatory model offering choice for audiences through the BBC remit which details the range of content that must be produced by the channel including news and current affairs, and also a citize­n-based model playing a role in shaping society and taking respon­sib­ility for media content through self-r­egu­lation, ensuring a diverse range of progra­mming. For example, decisions made about the scheduling of LOM ensured that citizens were protected from potent­ially offensive material.

The fact that television companies now operate in a global market has introduced challenges with regard to regulation of content. In addition, the ways in which television content is distri­buted to audiences across a range of digital platforms means that regulation is more complex.

Cultural Industries - Hesmon­dhalgh
Whilst the BBC as a PSB is not under the same pressure as commercial broadc­asters in terms of ratings and compet­ition, it still uses a range of strategies to minimise risk and maximise audiences. One of these as indicated by Hesmon­dhalgh, is vertical integr­ation. LOM was produced by Kudos, broadcast by the BBC, and distri­buted globally by BBC Worldwide.

Another key strategy used by the BBC is formatting their cultural products. Where audiences can anticipate what to expect from new products through, for example famili­arity with genre conven­tions, then the risk in minimised. LOM, whilst containing an enigmatic narrative twist, also contains typical codes and conven­tions of a crime drama. The marketing of the programme also used recogn­isable stars and once the programme was establ­ished, the characters of Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt. This facili­tated the launch of Series 2 and the spinoff Ashes to Ashes.

Narrat­ology - Tzveton Todorov

Theory recap: (1) the idea that all narratives share a basic structure that involves a movement from one state of equili­brium to another. (2) the idea that these two states of equili­brium are separated by a period of imbalance or disequ­ili­brium. (3) the idea that the way in which narratives are resolved can have particular ideolo­gical signif­icance.

- Linear narrative structure
- Often unfold in a chrono­logical order
- Work on a basis of cause and effect.

In support of this theory:

Equili­brium - Sam is at work like normal (2006)
Disruption - Sam's car crash, Maya goes missing
Recogn­ition - New realit­y/f­antasy (1973)
Resolution - Sam works to solve the crime case in his new reality
New equili­brium - Accepts to not jump, and to work in the 1970s.

Initial disruption starts the story.
Elements of enigmas used to unfold the narrative.

Against this theory:

- Flexin­arr­ative suggests non-linear narrative.
- Repeated disrup­tions to the narrative.
- Disrup­tions and flashbacks create elements of a non-linear narrative, and audience questions what's real.
- Lack of resolu­tion, cliff-­hanger ending.

Narrative has elements of series and serial format.
- Crime is resolved within the episode.
- Able to solve the 2006 crime at the same time he's solving 1973 crime.
- Sam rescued Dora.
- Enigma of Sam's state (is he dead, in a concus­sion?)
- Enigma of where Maya is (2006)
- How/why is he in 1973?
- Love story arc (Annie)
- How will he get back?

Restricted and unrest­ricted narrative.
Audience is in privileged position (knowledge of 2006 storyline, Sam is alone in his experi­ence).

Struct­uralism theory - Claude Levi-S­trauss

Theory recap: (1) the idea that texts can be best understood through an examin­iation of their underlying structure. (2) the idea that meaning is dependent upon (and produced through) pairs of opposi­tions. (3) the idea that they way in which these binary opposi­tions are resolved can have particular ideolo­gical signif­icance.

Binary opposi­tions present:

Reality vs fantasy
Past vs present
Illusion vs reality
(Internal diegetic sound of defibr­illator charging and the doctor talking to Sam from 2006 - shallow focus, slow motion, body language of Sam covering his ears. Defib used ambiguity to create multif­aceted readings.)
New man vs unemot­ional
Corrupt vs clean/­honest
Crime drama vs reality tv
Life vs death
Bigotry vs diversity
New policing vs old-school
Forensics vs instinct
Order vs disorder
Psychology vs evidence
Gene Hunt vs Sam
Annie vs male police dep

In support of this theory, the conflict between the binary opposi­tions drive the narrative, it explores hierar­chies and shows the ideolo­gical implic­ations of meanin­g-m­aking and power dynamics.

However, this method of driving the narrative is too simplistic and repeti­tive, and can become reductive (no leeway). Other methods may be used to create meaning, such as semiotics, intert­ext­uality, etc.

Genre theory - Steve Neale

Theory recap: (1) the idea that genres may be dominated by repeti­tion, but also marked by differ­ence, variation and change. (2) the idea that genres change, develop and vary as they borrow from and overlap with one another. (3) the idea that genres exist within specific economic, instit­utional and industrial contexts.

Media Language

The codes and conven­tions of media forms and products, including the processes through which media language develops as a genre.

- Crime dramas have a recogn­isable repertoire of elements, these may be specific to a sub-genre, for example a psycho­logical crime drama. These conven­tions have evolved over time and developed to reflect social and cultural change and the needs and expect­ations of audiences.
However, they all share simila­rities which place them in the genre including:

> Narrative: this is usually based on a crime that needs to be invest­igated and solved.
-> Structure. Crime dramas may use a range of different narrative struct­ures. They may conform to Todorov's theory where the structure is linear from the initial disruption through to a resolu­tion, or non-linear where time and space is manipu­lated.
Inverted narratives show the crime and the perpet­rator at the start and then may have a non-linear structure including flashb­acks. Other examples of the genre create a restricted narrative in which inform­ation is withheld from the audience and they are involved in solving of the crime alongside the police.
In Life on Mars there are elements of a flexi-­nar­rative.
The characters are complex, storylines interw­eave, the audience is encouraged to question what is real and what is not and is challenged through enigma and confusion.
-> Narrative disrup­tions occur that change the course of the story, these can be events that happen or revela­tions that are made by characters. Sometimes the audience are in a privileged spectator position whereby they know more than the characters within the story world.
-> Binary opposi­tions function as a narrative element including good vs evil, police vs criminal.
-> Plot situations are included that are typical of the crime genre. For example, a car chase, an arrest, an interview with a suspect or the denouement where the perpet­rator of the crime is revealed by the detective.
-> Story arcs and narrative strands occur in episodes and across the series of a crime drama. In Life on Mars there is a narrative strand of the crime that seems to cross from the present back to 1973 and creates an enigma.

> Stock Characters including a hierarchy with a boss, a detective and sidekick and other charac­ters, for example a victim, a range of suspects, the perpet­rator of the crime and expert­s/w­itn­esses who help in solving of the crime. Often the pairing of characters are binary opposites, and their relati­onships contri­butes to tensions within the narrative, this is the case with Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt in Life on Mars, compounded by the fact that they are culturally opposite due to the time shift.

> Setting and locations. These will become synonymous with the programme and the brand and will relate to charac­terise and the sub-genre. Some settings will be typical of the genre, for example the police station, the post-m­ortem lab and urban crime settings. The settings in Life on Mars clearly establish in which time frame the action is taking place.


Narrat­ology - Todorov

All narratives share a basic structure involving movement from one state of equili­brium to another, separated by a disequ­ili­brium. The opening of Life on Mars establ­ishes a typical crime drama narrative involving an attempted arrest, a chase and a police interview, this is the equili­brium.
The most signif­icant disruption to this equili­brium occurs when Sam Tyler is involved in an accident and is transp­orted back in time to 1973. An enigma code is then establ­ished as a key element of the narrative and Sam attempts to repair the equili­brium by trying to work out how he can return to the present, enlisting the help of Annie Cartwr­ight.
As this is an example of an episodic drama there would not be a resolution at the end of the first episode, instead there is a cliff-­hanger.

Genre - Neale

Neale asserts that genres may be dominated by repeti­tion, but they are also marked by differ­ence, variation and change. Crime dramas have a recogn­isable repertoire of elements that place them in the genre, but in order to appeal to audiences they need to display something different to set them apart from other examples. Life on Mars uses the time travel narrative and intert­extual references to the 1970s that may resonate with audiences.

Life on Mars demons­trates that genres change, develop, and vary as they borrow and overlap from one another. Some contem­porary crime dramas are less easy to categorise as they are hybrid genres. This variation enhances audience appeal; Life on Mars combines the conven­tions of crime drama with those of fantas­y/s­cience fiction with the introd­uction of time travel and altern­ative realities.

Genres exist within specific economic, instit­utional and industrial contexts. The recogn­isable codes and conven­tions of crime dramas make them easy to market to audiences. However, subverting and challe­nging these conven­tions by introd­ucing more novel elements as in Life on Mars can also ensure commercial success.


Some progra­mmes, for example LOM (Life on Mars) challenge and subvert genre conven­tions, in this case through the narrative and through reference to other genres.
Crime dramas are dynamic in that they change and develop to reflect changes in society and to policing methods.
LOM has intert­extual links to histor­ically relevant dramas, for example The Sweeney. Making these links allows the programme to be socially relative and to explore issues around repres­ent­ation and how policing and attitudes to certain social groups have changed over time.
LOM is different from other crime dramas in that it highlights social change through Sam's role in observing and commenting on 1970s policing from a contem­porary perspe­ctive.


>Visual codes
-> Codes of clothing: the connot­ations of charac­ter's clothing and appearance create meanings. Clothing is a rapid way of commun­icating messages in LOM. At the start of the episode the clothing conven­tions are typical of a crime drama whereby costume denotes rank and hierarchy. As the episode progresses and the disequ­ili­brium occurs, the audience are shown this through Sam's change of clothing to typical 1970's attire with big shirt collars, flares and stacked heels. This adds to the enigma. The clothing of the other characters in 1973 reinforces the time frame.
-> Gesture and expres­sion: non-verbal commun­icators are quick ways of constr­ucting meaning. Sam's range of troubled expres­sions, evident from the beginning, rapidly convey elements of his character. His facial expres­sions and physical gestures convey aspects of his person­ality and this contri­butes to tension within the narrative. His crying and hitting of the steering wheel before he is hit by the car emphasises his frustr­ation and suppressed emotions in the wake of Maya's abduction.
Throughout the episode his expression of bewild­erment allows the audience to empathise with his surreal situation. This is echoed in the equally confused expres­sions of the police team in 1973 as they attempt to understand his time travel story.
-> Iconog­raphy and setting: the props, backgr­ounds and settings work in binary opposition to construct the narrative. For example, the modern office in the police station is introduced early in the episode so that audiences can see the contrast to the 1973 office with its lack of techno­logy, dingy smoke-­filled atmosphere and piles of paperwork. The modern road network contrasts with the demolished site ready for develo­pment in 1973. Other props effect­ively establish the historic time frame and contribute further to Sam's confusion including for example, the old cars, the police panda cars and the walkie talkies.

>Te­chnical codes
Camera shots, movement and angles work together to commun­icate messages and 'show' the narrative. LOM has high production values and a cinematic style which is used to convey inform­ation without the use of dialogue.
-> Close-ups advance the relati­onships between characters and establish tension and a dynamic. This is evident in the conver­sation between Maya and Sam where he takes her off the case and in the interview with Raimes. Close-ups on Sam throughout the episode reinforce his confusion and disori­ent­ation.
-> Framing is also important in the establ­ishment of characters and relati­ons­hips, for example in the first meeting between Sam and Gene Hunt. Here, the combin­ation of framing, gesture and expression foresh­adows the relati­onship clash between these two charac­ters.
-> Camera movement contri­butes to the surreal elements of the narrative; for example, the 360-degree tracking shot when Sam stands up in 1973 disori­entates the audience, introduces the changed setting and reinforces Sam's confusion.
-> The editing of the shots is also important; for example, the low angle shot of Sam viewing Maya's blood-­stained shirt on the swing is powerful when followed by the bird's eye view of the urban setting constr­ucting a sense of foreboding around what has happened to her.

> Audio codes
Sound and music are effective in commun­icating meaning in this programme.
-> Music: the David Bowie track "Life on Mars?" is played at key moments in the episode and specific lyrics relate to the narrative. It is playing in the car before Sam's accident and the focus of the lyrics, "A friend is nowhere to be seen" emphasises his isolation. "As she walks through a sunken dream" foresh­adows the dream-like narrative that is about to unfold.
-> The strength of Sam's emotions is emphasised by the audio codes, the diegetic sound disappears as he is crying and we only hear the music soundtrack. It is as if he is already in a dream or nightmare and the fact that he cannot be heard reinforces his inability to voice emotion as identified in the previous scene with Maya before her abduction.
-> The use of silence is also very emotive. After Sam is hit by the car there is silence which further reinforces the audience shock at the incident they did not anticipate and then a series of audio codes reinforce confusion and disori­ent­ation. These include sirens, music, non-di­egetic medical dialogue "­stand clear", a dream like whisper and the beeping of a heart monitor.
-> The soundtrack of the 1970s world is underlaid by music from that period making intert­extual references to the time and creating nostalgia for the audience.
-> Dialogue: at the start of the episode the dialogue is conven­tional of a crime drama, for example when the team go to arrest Raimes, "we have a warran­t", and in the interview room. Gene Hunt's turn of phrase and vocabulary constructs his repres­ent­ation and places him in the 1970s time frame where what was acceptable contrasts with modern policing. Some of his phrases became iconic and part of the progra­mme's branding, after Sam asks who he is: "Gene Hunt. Your DCI. And it's 1973. Nearly dinner time. I'm 'aving 'oops " and his inappr­opriate sexist refere­nces, "they reckon you've got concus­sion- I couldn't give a tart's furry cup if half your brains are falling out. Don't ever waltz into my kingdom acting king of the jungle­".
-> When Sam "­comes to" in 1973, his disori­ent­ation is emphasised in his conver­sation with the police officer, highli­ghting that termin­ology and vocabulary is socially relevant. Sam says his car is a Jeep, the policeman assumes this is a "­mil­itary vehicl­e" and fails to understand the reference to the mobile phone, just as the team in the office misund­erstand his request for a PC.


Postmo­dernism - Baudri­llard

Baudri­llard argues that the media create hyper-­rea­lities based on a continuous process of medita­tion. What is encoded as "­rea­l", and what audiences then decode as actual, is not "­rea­l" but instead "­sim­ula­cru­m": signs which reference other signs, which then creates a hyper-­rea­lity.
Audiences accept this constr­ucted reality as real because they are consis­tently exposed to a world of images which no longer refer to reality.
Media images have come to seem more "­rea­l" than the reality they supposedly represent.
Postmodern elements in Life on Mars:
-> Programme is postmodern in its narrative and the manipu­lation of time and space. The narrative is parado­xical and fragmented and audiences are required to suspend their disbelief.
-> Elements of bricolage, intert­ext­uality and cultural codes to create audience appeal through nostalgia. Meaning is shaped through reference to the 1970s, its culture, music and crime dramas of the time, for example The Sweeney. The programme relies on audience unders­tanding of crime drama to decode meaning which is then accepted as the reality of the time.
-> The programme also has a **social, cultural and historical context: its constr­uction requires the audience to view 1970s Manchester with 21st century eyes and judge it accord­ingly.

Applying the concept of "­sim­ula­cra­" to Life on Mars:
-> The 1970s world of Gene Hunt is a hyper-­reality created by a range of recogn­isable signs; it is the 1970s re-pre­sented from a mediated perspe­ctive.
-> It could also be said that Sam Tyler's 21st Century world is also hyper-real in that it is based on the audience's cultural perception of the police force that is itself constr­ucted and mediated, rather than experi­enced first-­hand.
The audience unders­tanding of this instit­ution is based on what has been seen in other constr­ucted media products.

Industry Context

- Process of produc­tion, distri­bution and circul­ation.
- Specia­lised and instit­uti­ona­lised nature of media produc­tion, distri­bution and circul­ation.
- Relati­onship of recent techno­logies changing and how it affects produc­tion, distri­bution and circul­ation.

- 16mm (aesthetic "­ret­ro")
- Modern film (unusual)
- Practi­cally postmodern simulacrum of The Sweeny


- Signif­icance of patterns of ownership and control.
- Conglo­merate ownership - vertical integr­ation and divers­ifi­cation (BBC-o­wned).
- Signif­icant economic factors - commercial and not-fo­r-p­rofit public funding
- Intern­ational co-pro­duc­tion; high cost of quality drama.
- TV programmes and formats are distri­buted worldwide.
- BBC Worldwide (comme­rcial arm) sells BBC programmes and formats.
- Netflix and Amazon Prime provide global audience.
- Life on Mars made by public service broadc­asters - would've needed European / co-pro­duction money.
- Co-pro­duction gives a show a much larger audience (also seen in The Bridge).


All repres­ent­ations are constr­ucted, and are not "­windows on the world". Media products are constr­ucted through a process of mediation using:
- Technical codes. Camera shots, angles, movements and editing combine to construct repres­ent­ations. Consider the first time.
In your exam, you could talk about the first time characters are shown in LOM and how the camera constructs the repres­ent­ation.
This is used to position the audience in relation to the characters and this may change through the program. For example, in the opening scenes in present day Sam Tyler is shown to be in control, giving orders and managing the situation. In the 1970s world the use of close ups and 360 panning shots creates a repres­ent­ation of his confusion, disori­ent­ation and lack of control over the situation.

- Audio codes. Diegetic and non-di­egetic sound including a soundt­rack, mood music and dialogue to contribute to the constr­uction of repres­ent­ations. For example, the 1970s dialogue and vocabulary used by the police officers and Gene Hunt establish the cultural differ­ences between then and now and create negative repres­ent­ations of the police. The music soundtrack also represents the 1970s.

- Iconog­raphy. Clothing, partic­ularly in relation to the historical context, contri­butes to the constr­uction of repres­ent­ation and will have been a key consid­eration of the producers in creating the characters and their roles.

Repres­ent­ations may invoke discourses and ideologies and position audiences due to their ideolo­gical signif­icance and reflect the time in which the product was made.
In the case of LOM, it re-pre­sents 1970s life through a 21st century lens. They portray idea and values relevant at the time which may now be challenged by a contem­porary audience.
The time frame of the programme invokes a discourse around repres­ent­ations of the time, partic­ularly in terms of patria­rchal and feminist discourses, in contrast to more contem­porary repres­ent­ations.
Audiences are positioned to consider how repres­ent­ations have changed over time.

-- The effect of social, cultural and historical context on repres­ent­ations. --

Gender: men/ma­scu­linity
LOM, with its dual time frame, highlights what it means to be a man in a particular historical and cultural setting. The cultural signif­icance of male repres­ent­ation is reinforced by the binary opposi­tions between Sam's world and that of the 1970s milieu of Gene Hunt and his team.
The repres­ent­ation of mascul­inity constr­ucted in 1973 through the police team is one showing hyperm­asc­uline traits of dominance and power, partic­ularly as shown in the character of Gene Hunt. He is defined by his language and physical response to situat­ions. His immediate reaction when challenged by Sam Tyler is to hit him. Sam later refers to him as "an overwe­ight, over-t­he-hill nicoti­ne-­stained borderline alcoholic homophobe with a superi­ority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bondin­g". He is remini­scent of other characters in crime dramas of the time, reflecting the dominant role of men in society.
Gene Hunt's hyperm­asc­ulinity is constr­ucted through iconog­raphy, for example his office has a dartboard, a typical male pursuit, and a film poster of Gary Cooper in the Western "High Noon", contri­buting to the surface realism of the 1970s masculine world. He refers to the office as "my kingdo­m".
Sam Tyler both subverts and conforms to typical repres­ent­ations of mascul­inity. In 1973 he is in stark contrast to the police of the time, partic­ularly in the way in which he treats the female charac­ters. He confronts the macho behaviour of Gene Hunt and is sympat­hetic to the plight of Dora. In the 2006 world he demons­trates masculine traits of control over Maya's role and the crime invest­iga­tion.
Early in episode 1, after his first confro­ntation with Hunt, the framing constructs a repres­ent­ation of Sam as vulnerable with closed body language while the rest of the office functions around him.
It is Annie he trusts and turns to for help and he is happy to confide in her emotio­nally. However, the 2006 Sam is less comfor­table when dealing with emotion in relation to Maya. When the audience are shown him crying, it is silent emphas­ising his emotional isolation.

Gender: women/­fem­ininity
Just as with Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt, Annie Cartwright and Maya Roy function as binary opposi­tions, highli­ghting the cultural and social differ­ences between the two worlds in relation to the role of women.
Women are under-­rep­res­ented in the 1970s world of LOM; for example, Annie is referred to in derogatory terms by the male police officers as a "nice little plonk", despite the fact that she has a degree in psychology. She explains she is part of The Women's Depart­ment: women in the police at the time had a restricted range of duties and were viewed as inferior to their male counte­rparts.
In episode 1 we see her in her role as admini­str­ating first aid rather than engaging in active police duties. Sam invites her to give her ideas about the case, but she is ridiculed "I look at your lips all the time Cartwr­ight, do you think I should turn myself in?" and despite her insightful contri­bution into the mind of the killer, is effect­ively margin­alised and instructed to "trot along sweeth­ear­t" by Hunt.
Dora also serves to highlight the tension between Tyler and Hunt, their dealing with her reflects the cultural differ­ences in attitudes to women. Sam's interv­iewing technique is softer and more respec­tful, whereas Hunt's is aggressive and confro­nta­tional.
In contrast, Maya Roy is in a more senior, active rather than passive role in the police and is able to act on her initiative and challenge Sam. However, she is also portrayed as the victim as she is abducted and items of her clothing are left behind, reinfo­rcing her vulner­abi­lity.

The repres­ent­ations in LOM compare historical and contem­porary cultures and attitudes with regard to repres­ent­ations of ethnicity, reflecting how these have changed to reflect societal develo­pments.
In the constr­uction of the 1970s world of LOM there is an under-­rep­res­ent­ation of minority ethnic groups within the police force, repres­enting the situation at the time.
Nelson's constr­uction is stereo­typ­ical, focusing on the accent­uated Jamaican accent, bright clothing and jewellery. He is constr­ucted as "­oth­er" and "­exo­tic­" and does not have a central part in the narrative. His role as a barman reinforces the cultural power relations which assume his inferi­ority.
Maya's repres­ent­ation as an Asian women who has risen through the ranks of the police is more positive, reflecting a more equal contem­porary society.


Feminist theory -- Bell Hooks
Bell Hooks' assertion that feminism is a struggle to end sexist­/pa­tri­archal oppression and the ideology of domination can be explored in relation to LOM:
- The dual time frame raises awareness of how attitudes towards men and women have changed, and the fact that Sam views the attitudes of 1973 through a contem­porary lens helps to challenge sexist thinking and the ideology of male domina­tion.
- In the 1970s time frame audiences are forced to consider the assumed dominance of men and the oppression of women. Gene Hunt's "­Kin­gdo­m" and has no room for women, or men like Sam who are responsive to the situations involving Annie and Dora.
- The enviro­nments in the 1973 world are largely masculine, the pub and the office are inhabited by men and intimi­dating to women.
- The language used to refer to women at this time is reductive and deroga­tory, for example "­tar­t", "­bir­d" and "­ski­rt".
- Annie's character highlights how women were prevented from achieving their potential through a patria­rchal, oppressive world. She is well educated, but is not given the same opport­unities in the police force as her male counte­rparts. When she is in conver­sation with Sam about the motive and psycho­logical profile of the killer she is his equal and this is shown by the camera shots. However, the others margin­alise her, making sexist comments and treating her as inferior.
Gene Hunt's response to dismiss her and define her by her sexuality, "I think you'd better trot along now sweetheart before I have to hose with lot down". This is in sharp contrast to the role of Maya in the modern force.

Feminist theory -- Van Zoonen
Van Zoonen's assertion that gender is constr­ucted through discourse and that its meaning varies according to cultural and historical context can be applied to LOM by comparing the two different time frames in which the narrative is set.
- By directly contra­sting the worlds of 1973 and 2006, the programme illust­rates that the dominant unders­tan­dings of gender have changed over time to reflect changes in society in terms of the roles of men and women.
- In the 1973 world Gene Hunt's repres­ent­ation is constr­ucted as one of hyper-­mas­cul­inity and Annie's role is domestic and nurturing.
- Maya's opport­unities are very different to those of Annie due to changes in society to address gender equality, for example the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and passing of the EU directive on equal pay in 1975.


-- How media industries target audiences through the content and appeal of media products and through the ways in which they are marketed, distri­buted and circulated --

- The primary target audience is a wide, mainstream audience who are fans of crime drama. The programme has cross-­gender appeal with the narrative and characters attractive to both genders.
- A secondary audience is fans of fantas­y/s­cie­nce­-fi­ction who would be attracted by the hybrid generic elements in the programme which may appeal to a more altern­ati­ve/­niche audience.
- A tertiary audience may be fans of the 1970s period who would experience pleasure through nostalgia and the intert­extual refere­nces.

-- How the programme appeals to these audiences --

- The appeal of the genre. The crime drama genre is a popular and successful genre as it offers a range of audience pleasures. Audiences have expect­ations of the genre and gain pleasure in seeing expect­ations fulfilled (Neale). The genre offers escapism where the audience can be involved in the intell­ectual puzzle of solving the crime and pursuing the clues alongside the police.
The fantas­y/s­cience fiction element of LOM offers an additional layer of escapism in the suspension of disbelief. The audience may feel a personal identi­fic­ation with the themes in hte drama, or with one of the charac­ters. Sam Tyler positions the audience to empathise with him and his situation. Audiences also gain inform­ation on the workings of the police, in LOM audiences may be shocked by the methods used in the 1973 world. Popular dramas like LOM create a buzz and encourage social intera­ction (Uses & Gratif­ica­tions).

Narrative appeal. The narrative effect­ively highlights Neale's theory of how repetition and difference ensure the dynamic nature of genres. LOM incorp­orates the typical codes and convention of the crime genre for example, the crime, enigmas, narrative strands and typical characters and settings whilst offering something different in terms of the enigma of the dual time frame. This would appeal to fans of crime dramas as well as an altern­ative audience who may be attracted to the non-li­near, surreal narrative structure and lack of closure.

Charac­ters. LOM introduced characters that would appeal to the audience. Gene Hunt's character became iconic, and his catch phrases were absorbed into the culture of the time. Audiences were positioned to sympathise with Sam Tyler, the restricted narrative meaning that the audience solve the mystery alongside him, and they are positioned to see Hunt's methods through his eyes and judge them accord­ingly.

Intert­extual refere­nces. The music of the period including David Bowie gives audiences pleasure through recogn­ition. Nostalgia through visual codes and iconog­raphy, for example the Crombie, kipper ties, velvet jackets and Ford Cortina, flicked hair, etc.

Inherited fan bases. Audiences like crime dramas and there will be an expect­ation that a BBC production will be high quality. The programme will also appeal to fans of stars including John Simms who may attract a younger target audience who associate him with Doctor Who and 24 Hour Party People.

Marketing. The marketing campaign used much of the above to target the audience, including the 1970s soundt­rack, the nostalgic references to 1970s culture and the enigmatic narrative. The characters were also an important part of the marketing, Sam Tyler's voiceover was used in the trailer "My name is Sam Tyler..." Audiences were encouraged to empathise with him from the start through the trailer "­Where else could I go", "Help me".


Reception theory - Stuart Hall
There are three hypoth­etical positions from which messages and meanings may be decoded.

An audience may understand and accept the producers' intended meaning, to construct a programme that appeals to audiences by including some typical conven­tions of crime drama whilst offering something different in the dual time narrative. Audiences will be entert­ained by the programme and enjoy the intert­extual reference to 1970s culture and society.

Some audiences may assume a negotiated position, judging the 1970s references from a 21st century perspe­ctive. They may enjoy the elements of nostalgia and the soundtrack but feel uncomf­ortable with the sexism and the dominant male perspe­ctive.

Some audience may adopt an opposi­tional position that may feel that the repres­ent­ation that are constr­ucted, partic­ularly in that of Gene Hunt, legitimise racism, sexism and the use of violence. Audiences may view his attitudes and values as extremist and unacce­ptable for a modern audience, even in a historical setting. A feminist audience may oppose the repres­ent­ation of Annie as subser­vient to the males and feel that there is no place for the seeming reinfo­rcement of dated ideas and patria­rchal values in a modern television drama.

Media Contexts

Social and cultural contexts.
The dual time frame encourages audiences to consider the effect of social and cultural contexts on repres­ent­ations of gender and ethnicity and how these reflect the change in society.
LOM shows the 1970s society in terms of social hierarchy, power, gender roles and how authority was regarded. The programme reflected the inequality between men and women in society, the majority of the police officers seen are men, and the women in the programme are under-­rep­res­ented and margin­alised.
The narrative and repres­ent­ations in LOM creates a discourse around policing in the past and today.

Historical context
LOM demons­trates that genre conven­tions are histor­ically relative and dynamic
The repres­ent­ations constr­ucted in the programme are affected by the historical context, they reflect the society of the time.
Audience interp­ret­ations of LOM may reflect historical circum­sta­nces, for example those audiences who can recognise the intert­extual references to historical products The Sweeney and Starsky and Hutch may respond differ­ently to a younger audience.


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