Types of radio plays - fiction genres & mixed genre (BELOW)
 There are groups of plays or radio plays or films or texts which constitute a 'Western', a 'thriller', a 'horror', a 'comedy', a 'romance', a 'rom-com'.
 Genre is the type of text being presented. Genre is one of the principal means of product differentiation.
 There are archetypal examples of these genres by which we measure the texts.Writer and directors also work to produce typical texts within these groups.


FILM: Genre is particularly important in film and TV, and for marketing.

 VARIATION WITHIN A GENRE: The difference between texts is minimal and systematic within a particular genre. A variation is on a format rather than on absolute novelty.


ADVANTAGES OF GENRE: Genre has the advantages of differentiation with the advantages of an inbuilt requirement for repetition and standardisation.

 AUDIENCES: Audiences read the texts in terms of how it is different from and similar to, other stories. Response to a genre is the prinmary way of differentiation.


RADIO PLAYS: The listener of the radio play mentally indexes and cross-references between plays already heard. There are echoes between plays, for example, between afternoon plays on BBC Radio 4.

 There are particularly important archetypes for radio plays. Obvious genres are the radio soap, the thriller, the afternoon play with woman as subject. Note how channel and slot define radio genres.


Most comedy is organised in series (genres), though it is not easy to define borders. Comedy, for example, cuts across classification according to genre. Though that thesis can be questioned.

 One play can belong to several genres at the same time. Genres are difficult to define in any other terms beyond banal summaries of plots. In part this is because they constantly evolve.


Genre analysis is based on the supposition that there are large numbers of plays in restricted groups and these groups are capable of explanation. The groups can be accounted for both in terms of their narrative structures and ideology.

 Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting (London:Methuen Publishing Ltd., 1999)
 See also Types of plays

Types of radio plays - fiction genres & mixed genre

 Realism - slice-of-life? raw realism? more stylised?


A radio play that takes a novel, play, or film other text as its source. It uses story events, characters, settings, and other elements, and then translates them to the medium of sound.

 Soap or radio serial drama

 cops and robbers or crims or Brit-crim or gangster


 'Dear Diary' play and Audio Diary including change-of-life woman protagonist

 Monologue or Linked Monologues

 rom-com (romantic comedy)

 Drama-documentary - mixing audio recorded from the Lifeworld (real world), such as interviews, and fictional scenes.

 Segment (radio drama)



 Feature - including fiction (radio drama) elements

 Improvised and 'scratch' radio drama




 Experimental - as, for example, wordless radio piece

 Spy thriller

 Slasher and horror

 comedy - carry-on



 'Film noir'


 children's interest



 domestic comedy or mixed comedy-serious (often woman partner protagonist)

 'screwball comedy'

 musical biography

 fairy tale

 'survival story' (war, safari, and disaster)

 'fantastic genres', including fantasy, horror and science fiction

 Allegory - an extended metaphor, working on two levels - the plot events AND meanings external to the play

 Allegory with animal characters

Storyboard - layout of scenes and details - how to make it work for you


films adopt a generic voice - violation and development
following conventions and stylistic characteristics that usually mark out our popular narrative formulas
(1) genre in its own right, appearing and disappearing in keeping with audience popularity and need?
true genre, recurring through time a cultural conditions admit/dictate - as FN
irregular cycle of recurrence

(2) or unique and time-bound phenomenon
singular time-bound cycle
in film relationship to dominant style of its period, classical film narrative: seemingly
objective point of view, adherence to objective cause-effect logic, use of goal-oriented characters to direct our attention and elicit our sympathies, a progression to narrative closure
easier task in radio drama because of near monopoly of BBC and fixedness of slots, as Afternoon Plays
they do sit still for a group portrait
discrete genre with its own conventions
otherwise, contrast films noir, amorphous nature
or limited cycle, push at bounds of genre definition


easy sort of classification that Westerns, musicals, science fiction, detective, gangster allow conventions of setting and conflict, subtle qualities of tone and mood related to other established genres or straddle generic lines, drawing simultaneously on a variety of conventions and expectations
films united by visual style, but radio drama not allow such in aural
aural style crosses boundaries
definitions that might justify such classifications seem to elusive
noir's primary discursive formations

Ian Peters, Pictorial Signs and the language of film (1981) 32:
Different films evoke different worlds. The fact that most films can be divided into different genres shows that the worlds which they evoke have a great deal in common, i.e., that the films of a specific genre have been using the same mimetic (story?) code. There is a world of the western, the gangster film, the thriller, the horror film, the musical, and so on (Tudor, 1974: 111 ff.).

The western, for example, uses a specific kind of elements to build its story: the rancher, the cowboy, the Indians, the saloon, the stage coach, the horse, the gun, the railway, the jail, the bank (Bellour, 1966: 89 ff.) The themes, people, situations and backgrounds of the postwar neo-realistic films in Italy are very different from the world of the spectacular types of films that preceded the neo?realistic cinema.

Now, if the same elements are employed again and again in the construction of such partial worlds in a specific genre or film school and if these elements are always combined more or less according to the same principles, one may speak of a code. If a given film is recognized by the viewer as a representation of a given partial world, it is due to his knowledge of that code. I would like to call this a figuration?code (for lack of a better term) because it codifies the kind of world that is represented or "figured" by that film. Of course, as many different figuration?codes may be distinguished as there are genres, schools, movements or other groups of film. (See. 21)



Graeme Turner, Film as a social practice 24
'Genre' is a term appropriated from literary studies and used to describe the way in which groups of narrative conventions (involving plot, character, and even locations or set design) become organized into recognizable types of narrative entertainment ? westerns or musicals, for instance. Auteurist critics realized that these sets of conventions were used by audiences as well as film?makers. Therefore they must exercise some determining power over what a director could and could not do if, for instance, s/he wanted to make something which an audience would recognize as a western. The constraints of the genre limited the ways in which any authorial signature might be inscribed, let alone detected. The genre was also seen as a convention to be challenged by many directors. Inevitably, work had to be done on defining the genre in order to understand its variations.

Such work revealed how dynamic genres are, how they continually change, modulate, and redefine themselves; genre emerges as the product of a three?way negotiation between audiences, film?makers, and film producers. This raised an issue which became prominent later: the role of the film as a commodity ? a marketable product sold to an audience through, among other things, its genre. More significantly, these enquiries. began a long series of reevaluations of the notion of genre, the study of the relationships between audiences and movies, and a better understanding of the pleasure ?of the familiar and predictable in popular entertainment ? partially qualifying the hitherto conventional privileging of the novel, the unique, and the original.

Genres are composed from sets of narrative and representational conventions. To understand them, audiences must, in a sense, bring the set of rules with them into the cinema, in the form of the cultural knowledge of what a western or a musical is. The role of the audience in determining meaning cannot be overestimated.

Genre is one of the determinants of the audience's choice of a film, not only in terms of whether or not they possess the competencies to appreciate that genre, but in terms of what kind of film it is they want to see, and whether the specific example of that general kind of film (say, a comedy) suits their taste ? is it a youth comedy like Risky Business or a zany adult comedy like Ruthless People? Finally, the film itself indicates how it is to be understood through its own signifying systems by its intertextual links with other films.



Bill Nichols, Representing reality, issues and concepts in documentary
Another, perhaps even more familiar, way to define documentary is in terms of the texts directly. We might consider documentary a film genre like any other. Films included in the genre would share certain characteristics. Various norms, codes, or conventions display a prominence missing from other genres. Each film establishes internal norms or structures of its own but these frequently share common traits with the textual system or organizing pattern of other documentaries. Many of these distinguishing features of the documentary film are the subject of the following chapters. A few of the most salient can serve here as examples.
Like the concept of genre, these are all ways of characterizing films by their likenesses to rather than their differences from one another.
(Nichols 22)


Bibliography on genre (research)

Grant, Barry Keith. Film Genre: from Iconography to Ideology. London: Wallflower, 2007.

Neale, Steve, Genre and Hollywood. London: Routledge, 2000.

Neale, Steve, Introduction. Genre and Contemporary Hollywood. Ed. Steve Neale. London: BFI,
2002. 2-10.
Steve Neale, Genre (BFI 1980)
John Ellis, Visible Fictions pp 30-7
Tom Ryall, "Teaching through genre" Screen Education no 17
G Mast, Film Theory and Film Criticism (Oxford 1974) Chap V Kinds of Film pp 353-
K Kane Visions of War PB 2995.W7 pp 2-9
V Propp, Morphology of the Folk Tale

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