Concept

BBC television drama

Summary
BBC television dramas have been produced and broadcast since even before the public service company had an officially established television broadcasting network in the United Kingdom. As with any major broadcast network, drama forms an important part of its schedule, with many of the BBC's top-rated programmes being from this genre. From the 1950s through to the 1980s the BBC received much acclaim for the range and scope of its drama productions, producing series, serials and plays across a range of genres, from soap opera to science-fiction to costume drama, with the 1970s in particular being regarded as a critical and cultural high point in terms of the quality of dramas being produced. In the 1990s, a time of change in the British television industry, the department went through much internal confusion and external criticism, but since the beginning of the 21st century has begun to return to form with a run of critical and popular successes, despite continual accusations of the drama output and the BBC in general dumbing down. Many BBC productions have also been exported to and screened in other countries, particularly in the United States on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Masterpiece Theatre strand and latterly on the BBC's own BBC America cable channel. Other major purchasers of BBC dramas include the BBC's equivalents in other Commonwealth nations, such as Australia's ABC, Canada's CBC and Gibraltar's Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC). Already an established national radio broadcaster, the BBC began test transmissions with the new technology of television in 1929, working with John Logie Baird and using his primitive early apparatus. The following year, as part of one of these test transmissions, the BBC screened their first television drama production, an adaptation of the Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello's short play The Man With the Flower in His Mouth. Broadcast live at 3.30pm on 14 July 1930, the play was produced from a small studio in the Baird Company headquarters at 133 Long Acre, London.
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