Banning Panorama: January 27, 2016

13 Jan

On the 27th of this month, I’ll be giving a paper as part of Glasgow Caledonian University’s regular History Seminar. This is especially pleasing for me, as GCU was where I spent my undergrad years in the 1990s.

GCU_Seminar_27_01

The paper is all about a component of my current postdoctoral research, which examines attempts by the Thatcher and Reagan governments to influence domestic and international public perceptions of intelligence and nuclear issues during the 1980s and the global media’s responses to this.

In order to do this, I address three main research questions: how, why, and to what extent did the governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher seek to combat the avalanche of information about the activities of the ‘secret state’ coming into the public domain?; what influence did these efforts have and how did the media – domestic and international – respond to this?; and, what were the wider Cold War ramifications and how did the US-UK nuclear and intelligence relationships shape and influence the attitudes of the Reagan and Thatcher administrations?

The paper reflects upon a small component of this wider project. In it, I will assess the controversy that arose over a BBC Panorama investigation into Britain’s secret services. This happened at a moment when the ‘secret state’ was coming under increasing pressure from Parliament and the media. The ‘ABC Trial’ of 1978, the Anthony Blunt revelations, and an avalanche of stories about domestic surveillance all brought clandestine agencies such as MI5, MI6, and GCHQ into the limelight (again).

The paper makes use of official government documentation, files released by the BBC, interviews with key figures, and a wide range of media sources. I won’t say too much about it just now!

 

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One Response to “Banning Panorama: January 27, 2016”

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  1. The Challenges of Teaching Intelligence Studies | theatomicage - June 28, 2016

    […] but I don’t think that’s a useful position to hold. I’ve recently been researching the Thatcher government’s attitude towards BBC reporting on foreign intelligence and domestic surveillance in the early 1980s. To take […]

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