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Explore the social and political contexts of England in the 80s with Literary Contexts

Edwina Baden-Powell
By Edwina Baden-Powell

The clips cover elements of 1980s Britain including Thatcherism, 1984 Miners’ Strike, classism, attitudes towards homosexuality and gender inequality. The series is a great resource to secondary and tertiary students, designed to help students make clear links between the context and the specific text, and foster the deep understanding of the characters and themes they need to master for their exams.

Billy Elliot in Context

England in the mid-80s was a time of widespread industrial action and social unrest. Striking miners picketed for their jobs, while the gay community fought for their rights. This video explores the historical events and changing social attitudes and gender roles that inform the film ‘Billy Elliot’. It provides a valuable accompaniment to Senior English students studying the film.

Series: Literary Contexts
Production Year: 2019
Audience: Secondary and Tertiary
Subject: English

View more Literary Contexts content

Billy Elliot in Context is part of a three-video series exploring the historical, literary, social and political contexts in England in the 1980s. See more below:

The History Boys in Context

Alan Bennett’s ‘The History Boys’ is set in 1983, a time when England was rife with class conflict and political reform. This video examines the events and tensions that inform Bennett’s play, from the changing roles of teachers to the social attitudes towards the gay community. It provides a valuable accompaniment to Senior English students studying The History Boys.

Blood Brothers in Context

Willy Russell’s ‘Blood Brothers’ chronicles the social circumstances that lead two brothers to tragedy. Although set in the 1960s and 70s, the musical reflects the social issues and attitudes of the time the play was written in the early 1980s. This video examines the historical and social context of the musical and provides a valuable accompaniment to Senior English students studying the film.


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