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Richard Dhillon

Research

Queer Domesticities in British Situation Comedies

My PhD research focuses on representations of domesticity in British television comedy.

Television is intimately associated with domesticity; it is not simply a medium consumed in the home, but one constitutive in its construction. Domesticity is broadly understood to be the cornerstone of hegemonic heteronormativity, and the sitcom has been taken to be a proponent of this — but my research unsettles this assumption, exploring the ways in which British sitcoms have negotiated ideological discourses around domesticity, sex, and gender in surprising ways throughout its history across the second half of the twentieth century. Adopting a queer perspective, my thesis uncovers a variety of small-screen domesticities which diverge from dominant notions of home and family life, and interrupt traditional classifications of domestic femininities and masculinities.

The project considers a range of sitcom ‘bedfellows’ — including spouses, siblings, flatmates, and lodgers — and examines how domestic spaces are constructed, and home and family constituted, through everyday practices of homemaking, and experiences of domestic cohabitation. It seeks to uncover the ways in which gendered constructions of domesticity (e.g. domestic labour, caring responsibilities) may be subverted, and dominant structures and configurations of domestic life (e.g. expressions of authority, bed sharing) challenged, in popular, prime-time British television content. It offers innovative, queer readings of material without obvious queer coding, but which nevertheless offer differently-constructed domestic possibilities with the potential to simultaneously destabilise and rework cultural and historical discourses around domesticity. The study offers a critical re-viewing of the British sitcom (including many texts which, despite consistently high viewing figures and long runs, have received little or no academic attention) as a site of struggle through which the very spaces in which it was consumed are contested.

My research is supervised by Professor Rachel Moseley and Dr Karl Schoonover, and funded by the Department of Film and Television Studies at Warwick.
About

I hold an MA for Research (with distinction) in Film and Television Studies (Warwick), an MA (with distinction) in Early Modern History (Birmingham), and a BA (with first-class honours) in History (Worcester). I began my PhD at Warwick in October 2019.

My research interests include British television history, queer television studies, television historiography, television’s material histories, television comedy, and post-war British film comedy.

I am co-founder of the Queer Television Reading Group, and a member of the Centre for Television Histories, both based in the Department of Film and Television Studies at Warwick

George and Mildred (Thames, 1976-1979)

The Liver Birds (BBC, 1969-1979)

Hancock’s Half Hour (BBC, 1956-1961)

Some Mothers Do 'ave 'em (BBC, 1973-1978)