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Documentary for the Small Screen by Paul Kriwaczek

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Chapter 2

What is a Television Documentary?

‘… TELEVISION PROGRAMME PRESENTING AN ACTIVITY OF REAL LIFE WITH IMAGINATION BUT WITHOUT FICTIONAL COLOURING…’

—Fowler’s Modern English Usage1

The definition of precisely what constitutes a television documentary is still, nearly fifty years on, a matter of debate. For some, the word refers only to a form of narrative film made in a specific ideological tradition: the Documentary Movement. For others, documentaries are more general in their style of execution, but are still limited in their subjects to stories about people and society, particularly if made from a radical point of view. In popular usage, as Fowler attests, the word is given the widest meaning of all, referring to almost any non-fiction ...

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