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Joseph Oldham

Associate Fellow In Film Studies

Paranoid Visions: Spies, Conspiracies and the Secret State in British Television Drama is now available from Manchester University Press.


I have led undergraduate seminars on "The Hollywood Cinema" (2014-15, 2016-17), "Basic Issues & Methods: Film Criticism" (2014) and "Basic Issues & Methods: Film History" (2011-12). I have also taught modules and supervised dissertations on film and television topics at the University of Hull's School of Drama, Music and Screen, the University of Westminister's School of Media, Arts and Design. and the University of Leicester's Department of Media and Communication. Additionally, I have worked in administrative roles in Warwick's Student Careers & Skills Service and International Student Office.

Research interests

My research interests include British television drama, intelligence history and Cold War culture. Much of my work is focused on bridging the gap between Television and Intelligence Studies, centring on institutions such as the BBC and drama programming in the spy and conspiracy genres. My monograph explores the history of such programming on British television, including Cold War spy series such as The Sandbaggers (ITV, 1978-80), classic spy novel adaptations such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (BBC, 1979), topical conspiracy thrillers such as Bird of Prey (BBC, 1982) and A Very British Coup (Channel 4), and recent 'war on terror' spy series such as Spooks (BBC, 2002-11).

I co-organised the conference Spying on Spies: Popular Representations of Spies and Espionage in collaboration with Toby Manning (Open University), held in The Shard, London (3-5 September 2015). I provided a public talk at Edinburgh Spy Week as part of an afternoon discussion about Spies on TV (22 April 2017).

I hold a PhD in Film & Television Studies, an MA for Research in Film and Television Studies (Distinction) and a BA (Hons) in Film with Television Studies (1st Class) from the University of Warwick. My PhD research was supervised by Professor Charlotte Brunsdon and funded by an AHRC Doctoral Award.

Selected publications

Online Articles and Interviews

'A very British EU: how Europe has been portrayed by thriller writers', at The Conversation (July 2017).

‘A very British realignment: How a classic 1980s thriller anticipated the breakthrough of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour’, at the Manchester University Press Blog (June 2017).

'Television Research at Spying on Spies: Popular Representations of Spies and Espionage' (conference report), at Critical Studies in Television Online (November 2015).

'Spectre Review: James Bond makes his mark in an age of cybersecurity', at The Conversation (October 2015).

'Interview with Joseph Oldham, Spying on Spies Conference', at Literary 007 (July 2015).

'Doctor Who in the 21st Century: Public service, national address and nostalgia', at the Warwick Knowledge Centre (November 2013).


Paranoid Visions: Spies, Conspiracies and the Secret State in British Television Drama (Manchester University Press, 2017).

Peer-Reviewed Articles

'The Man Behind the Desk and Other Bureaucracies: Portrayals of Intelligence Leadership in British Television Spy Series', in Christopher Moran, Ioanna Iordanou and Mark Stout (eds), Spy Chiefs I: Intelligence Leaders in the Anglosphere (Georgetown University Press, 2018).

‘From Reverential to “Radical” Adaptation: Reframing John Le Carré as “Quality” Television Brand from A Perfect Spy (1987) to The Night Manager (2016)’; Adaptation: The Journal of Literature on Screen Studies 10:3 (November 2017), pp. 285–304.

'Changing Narratives of Conspiracy on British Television: A Review of Hunted, Secret State, Complicit and Utopia', Journal of Intelligence History 13:1 (January 2014), pp. 94-103.

‘“Disappointed Romantics”: Troubled Heritage in the BBC’s John Le Carré Adaptations’, Journal of British Cinema and Television 10:4 (October 2013), pp. 727-745.

Public Talk

‘Spies, Conspiracies and the Secret State in British Television Drama’, Edinburgh Spy Week, 22 April 2017.

Conference Papers

‘From “Pop” to Surveillance Culture: Bugs (BBC 1, 1995-99) as the “Avengers for the 90s”’, Spies on British Screens, Plymouth University, 17-19 June 2016.

‘“Who Killed Great Britain?’: Restaging and Reframing the Cambridge Spies on British Television”, Spying on Spies: Popular Representations of Spies and Espionage, Warwick Business School space, The Shard, London, 3-5 September 2015.

‘“This is the 80s – death by violence counts as natural causes”: Forging a “paranoid style” for the early 1980s in Bird of Prey (BBC 1, 1982)’, Television Drama: The Forgotten, the Lost and the Neglected, Royal Holloway, University of London, 22-24 April 2015.

‘Deviant Protagonists and the Restoration of Consensus in 1980s British Television Conspiracy Dramas’, The Second International Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media Conference, University College Cork, Ireland, 4-6 September 2014.

‘Spy Chiefs in British Television Drama’, at Spy Chiefs: Intelligence Leaders in History, Culture and International Relations, University of Warwick, Venice, Italy, 7-8 May 2014.

'Spaces of "Realist" Spy Dramas on British Television, 1978-82', Spaces of Television: Production, Site and Style, University of Reading, 18-20 September 2013.

'Anxieties of Cosmopolitanism in British Clandestine Television Serials, 1979-89', Screen Studies Conference 2013: Cosmopolitan Screens, University of Glasgow, 28-30 June 2013.

'Perspectives on the War on Terror on British Television', Watching Politics: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Impact of Visual Culture on Politics, University of Warwick, 31 May 2013.

'The Material Archive vs. The Human Archive: Combining Written and Interview Material in Television Research', Researching Film and Television Through the Archive, University of Warwick, Coventry, 9 November 2012.

'Biographical Treatments of the Cambridge Spies on British Television', Writing Lives: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Uses of Biography, University of Warwick, Coventry, 25 May 2012.

'"Disappointed Romantics": Troubled Heritage in the BBC's John Le Carré Adaptations', at Re-Thinking Cinema and Television History, De Montfort University, Leicester, 3 April 2012, and Journeys Across Media 2012: Time Tells, University of Reading, 19 April 2012.

Paranoid Visions: Spies, Conspiracies and the Secret State in British Television Drama - Monograph cover



Edge of Darkness

A Very British Coup