Skip to main content Skip to navigation

From Crossroads and the Rag Trade to the Liver Birds - event celebrates working women on TV

Crossroads DVD coverA nostalgia trip celebrating television’s portrayal of women in the work place in the 60s and 70s is being laid on by academics from the University of Warwick and De Montfort University.

The free event, called Career Girls on the Small Screen, is at the Phoenix Arts Centre, Phoenix Square, Leicester, on Saturday afternoon, 8th October, and has been organised by Helen Wheatley and Rachel Moseley from the Department of Film and Television at University of Warwick and Helen Wood from De Montfort University.

They are hoping many people who remember classic television series such as Compact, The Rag Trade and The Liver Birds will come along, watch some episodes of these landmark dramas, and have a chat about how they remember these programmes.

There will also be a screened conversation with Hazel Adair, the maker of the drama Compact, which was about women working in the magazine industry. Hazel was also responsible for Crossroads and Emergency Ward 10.

Helen said: “There has been so much publicity about the current American series of Mad Men which shows women at work in the 1960s but there has been a long history of women in the workplace here on television the UK going back to the drama Compact in 1962.

“We would love to see people at the event who remember these series, have fond memories of them and may be able to reminisce about them.”

People who attend the screenings, if they want to, will be asked to write what they remember of these and any other significant programmes to them on a postcard which will go towards the research project called ‘A History of Television for Women in Britain: 1947-1989’ There will also be a round table discussion after the screenings and a drinks reception at 5pm.

Compact, which was screened from 1962, was a drama about women working in the magazine industry starring Jean Harvey.

Helen said: “This was the first time many people saw a professional woman role model on television. Many of the women we have talked to have said Jean’s character became a role model for them as it was portraying women who were not wives and home-makers.”

The Rag Trade, which was on screens in the early 60s starring Sheila Hancock, was about women factory workers and will be introduced by Dr Vicky Ball from the University of Sunderland who is currently writing a book about the British female ensemble drama.

Helen said: “The women were quite rebellious towards the male supervisor played by Reg Varney. To have such a strong female cast was unusual at the time. It certainly showed women as active and feisty and they were not the passive characters people assumed about women on TV. It was very popular because these women workers were recalcitrant, comedic and often pulled a fast one against male authority.”

Made in Dagenham DVD cover

The Liver Birds, which ran for 10 years from 1969 to 1979, was the story of two flatmates in Liverpool.

Helen said: “This portrayed women’s new freedoms. The girls shared their own flat, they were very independent, went to work, had their own income, talked about relationships outside of the marital or family home.”

The event is free and is on Saturday 8 October, starting from 2pm. A screening of the British film Made in Dagenham follows at 6pm at the special price of £4.50.



For further information please contact:

Dr. Helen Wheatley, Associate Professor in Film and Television Studies
Milburn House, Milburn Hill Road
University of Warwick,
Coventry, CV4 7HS
Tel: 024 7657 3871


Peter Dunn, Head of Communications, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 523708 or mobile 07767 655860

PR142 5th October 2011