In this book, Paul Lynch explores the genre of the British conspiracy thriller, a confrontational and dark response to what novelists and filmmakers perceived as an increasingly Orwellian secret state in the political landscape of the time. Through analyses of a variety of film and television productions, Lynch examines the ways in which they were influenced by their Hollywood and European counterparts and the work of John le Carré, conveying the real-world practices of the British intelligence services that served as inspiration and evaluating the genre’s effectiveness in providing meaningful political commentary to mainstream audiences.
Lynch draws on extensive interviews with novelists, film producers, screenwriters, and directors to form the basis of detailed and original case studies about films such as Defence of the Realm (1986), The Whistle Blower (1986), and The Fourth Protocol (1987). In addition to these case studies, Lynch also includes declassified intelligence material and interviews with former members of the intelligence community to reveal the extent to which popular television and cinema accurately reflected the inner workings of the security services at that time. Scholars of film studies, cultural history, political science, and adaptation studies will find this book of particular interest.
Paul Lynch is faculty leader of English language and literature at Collège Alpin Beau Soleil.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: ‘A world in which the heroes didn’t win’: The Hollywood Conspiracy Thriller
Chapter Two: ‘You don’t catch flies with vinegar.’: The European Conspiracy Thriller
Chapter Three: ‘The le Carré Syndrome’: John le Carré’s Influence on the British Conspiracy Thriller
Chapter Four: The Enemy Within: Britain in the 1980s
Chapter Five: The Panoptic State: Conspiracy on British Television in the 1980s
Chapter Six: Defence of the Realm
Chapter Seven: The Whistle Blower
Chapter Eight: The Fourth Protocol
Conclusion: ‘A mad, bad and dirty world.’
About the Author
"Paul Lynch’s The 1980s British Conspiracy Thriller takes a deep dive into important but sometimes neglected films and television dramas in this genre. Lynch usefully connects Thatcher-era conspiracy productions to forerunners from Hollywood and continental Europe. Beyond that, I suspect many readers will find his exploration of how real-world political and intelligence intrigues informed the making of key British conspiracy thrillers to be eye-opening. Engagingly written and rich in detail, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the topic."
"A fascinating account of the conspiracy thriller on screen, contextualizing the form within its wider genre roots and drawing connections between Hollywood, European and British cycles of conspiracy thriller. With a focus on the 1980s, the book covers both cinema and television examples and situates them in their historical, cultural and political contexts. In so doing, it brings neglected case studies into dialogue with existing scholarship, thereby expanding the canon of the conspiracy thriller and redrawing the contours of the genre. A particular strength of the book is its incorporation of primary interview material, making it an absorbing read for both academics and general readers."