Vampire hunters: the UK marketing and reception of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

Hill, Annette and Calcutt, Ian (2007) Vampire hunters: the UK marketing and reception of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. In: Undead TV: essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Duke University Press, Durham, USA, pp. 43-56. ISBN 9780822340430

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In a televised viewers’ feedback program, a senior executive responded to public criticism of UK television’s scheduling and censorship of imported cult TV. Key examples included Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series Angel. The executive stated: “The problem is, with some of the series we acquire from the States, in the States they go out at eight o’clock or nine o’clock. We don’t have that option here because we want to be showing history documentaries or some other more serious programming at eight or nine o’clock.”[i] TV channels in the UK do not perceive programs like Buffy and Angel, which have garnered critical and ratings success in the USA, as appropriate for a similarly prominent timeslot. Although peak time programs can include entertainment shows, these are generally UK productions, such as lifestyle or drama. This chapter analyses the circumstances within which British viewers are able to see Buffy and Angel, and the implications of those circumstances for their experiences as audience members and fans. First, we outline the British TV system in general, and the different missions and purposes of the relevant TV channels. We also address the specifics of scheduling Buffy and Angel, including the role of censorship and editing of episodes. The way certain channels understand their role as broadcasters, in particular for a young or “family” audience, has implications for how Buffy and Angel are presented. Our study concentrates on Buffy as it reached the fourth season, a time when its growing success spawned the spin-off Angel. In the second section, we explore the consequences of the scheduling and censorship of these programs in relation to the viewing experience, specifically through on-line fan communities. The experience of being a Buffy or Angel fan in the UK highlights culturally specific fan activity. We focus on the British context for the scheduling and reception of Buffy and Angel as a case study which illuminates different broadcasting attitudes to, and viewer experiences of, cult TV. Because of its passionate fan base and these kinds of scheduling considerations, cult TV series such as Buffy and Angel offer an especially revealing case of contemporary transnational reception practices.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: University of Westminster > Media, Arts and Design
Depositing User: Miss Nina Watts
Date Deposited: 12 May 2006
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2010 11:56

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