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Thesis Title: The Children's Film Foundation: an investigation into the decline and demise of a unique British institution

Thesis Description: An investigation into the decline, demise and subsequent influence of the Children's Film Foundation, a uniquely funded and managed British cinema institution. Tracing the effects of audience and industry changes, cultural, political and social influence and the rise of Saturday morning TV on the CFF in the 1970s and 1980s, I aim to ascertain whether the Foundation could have been saved and whether it could have a valid market today, considering the impact of the Harry Potter franchise and the recent children's films of David Walliams.

Most published texts on British Film have only cursory mentions of the CFF. Exceptions are works by Lester Friedman and John Hill, discussing the abolition of the Eady Levy, by which Mrs Thatcher’s government took away the Foundation's funding. Terry Staples’ history of Saturday morning cinema and Robert Shail’s recent history of the CFF both study the history of British children’s cinema, and my thesis will begin by exploring the uniqueness of the Foundation in it’s funding, paternal and moralistic ideals, global collaborations (especially in eastern bloc Europe of the 1960’s) as a prelude to an investigation of its demise as the British film industry plunged into crisis in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

By utilising the historical and archival sources available, including those primary sources held in the archives at the British Film Institute, The National Archives, The Cinema Museum, and at the BBC, I will investigate to what extent cultural, economic, political and industry factors were responsible for the demise of the CFF and the steps taken to try to prolong its life. I have already contacted the Reuben Library at the BFI with a view to collaborating with experts in children’s film, particularly film-maker Jason Gurr. I have also arranged access to Jason's connections and his extensive research interviews with CFF protagonists in order to analyse the pro’s and con’s of producing film for a committee and the problems caused by working to a strict budget. Government papers relating to the Film Act of 1982, memoranda and minutes from CFF committee meetings and memoranda from industry figures will underpin my research into the CFF’s decline, and works by Arthur Marwick, Matthew Thomson and Aldgate & Richards will be central to the investigation into the cultural and societal changes in Britain around this time, seeking to find if there was one pertinent factor, or a combination of these, that killed off the CFF.

The decline of the CFF follows a different arc to that of traditional theories of the decline of British cinema, and I aim to investigate the differences between the two, including an alternative distribution system that was designed to combat the hold that the duopoly of Rank and ABC cinemas had over British cinema exhibition. I intend to use my hometown of Derby as an exemplar of the demise of the traditional High St and its place as an entertainment centre, to study the effect that closing High Street cinemas and the suburbanisation of the city and the resulting population changes had on the CFF. I am creating a travelling exhibition to be displayed in independent cinema foyers to aid the distribution of a research questionnaire in order to seek former members of the Saturday Morning Club's in order to help in audience research.

Supervisors and Institution(s):

Professor Martin O'Shaughnessy (NTU)

Professor Claire Monk (De Montfort University)

Anna Dawson (NTU)


  • Midlands3Cities/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership: PhD in Communication, Cultural & Media Studies (Nottingham Trent University) 2017-20
  • MA (by research) Holocaust and Genocide Studies: Commendation (Nottingham Trent University) 2016-17
  • Film & Television School Prize (Nottingham Trent University) 2013-16
  • Joint Honours BA in History with Film & TV (Nottingham Trent University) First Class 2013-16

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

  • Member of  Culture and its Uses as Testimony (an international, AHRC-funded Research Network) 2016 -18
  • Member of the BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies) 2016-18 
  • Member of the NECS (European Network for Cinema & Media Studies) 2018
  • Mentored Year 11, Key Stage 4 GCSE students at Long Eaton School, Derbyshire, November 2013 - May 2014
  • Taught ESOL and British Cultural Studies at Maliduwa Shariputhra School, Galle District and at Boosa School, Boosa, Sri Lanka, June - August 2015
  • Mentored and taught ESOL to Tamil refugees at Manacare 'Hopes and Dreams Village' Tellwatta, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, June - August 2015
  • Attended Transnational Holocaust Memory Research Cluster, Holocaust Film Workshop, University of Leeds, 25th April, 2017, delivering a paper on my MA research around The suppression of 'Memory of the Camps' 
  • Helped curate the public preview of The Legacies of the Holocaust, NTU's Learning Resource at The Big Day Out at Beth Shalom (The National Holocaust Centre and Museum) on 30th April, 2017
  • Attended the 3rd AHRC Testimony Workshop, 'Culture and its Uses as Testimony; The Politics of Culture as Testimony' University of Nottingham, May 22nd, 2017
  • Attended Nottingham Trent University's Debates in Contemporary Memory Studies Workshop, Nottingham Conference Centre, May 23rd, 2017, delivering a paper on my MA research around the suppression of 'Memory of the Camps' 

  • Attended Nottingham Trent University’s 5th Annual Postgraduate History ConferenceTruth, Lies and Myths in History: Is 'Fake News' Old News? 21st June, 2017, delivering a paper on 'Fake News; Secrets and Lies' incorporating my MA research, on the 20th Century Propaganda panel.

  • Attended The PG/ECR BAFTSS Conference Exploring Boundaries in Film and Television, CATH Research Centre, Leicester De Montfort University, June 14th, 2017

  • Attended October Dialogues, Arts Council England / AHRC project, at Nottingham Contemporary Gallery, 20th October 2107

  • Attended Bright Club Nottingham Training, a cross-disciplinary forum  for combining research and comedy to educate and entertain, University of Nottingham, 16th November 2017

  • Attended 3rd Audiovisual Heritage and Academic Research Meeting at the University of Leeds, part of the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures (CWCDC) Sadler Seminar Series ‘Cinema’s Past, Present and Future: A Changing Medium in an Uncertain Global Landscape' supported by the Leeds Humanities Research Institute, 28th November 2017 

  • Attended the  Film Futures Development Day at Birmingham MAC, a research impact event hosted by Birmingham City University, 12th January 2018.

  • Delivered a stand-up comedy set based (loosely) around my research, at Nottingham Rough Trade, hosted by Bright Club Nottingham, 8th February 2018 

  • Attended First year PhD researcher ‘True North’ one day workshop at Nottingham Conference Centre, with the Royal Literary Fund, 13th February 2018.

  • Attended the Doctoral Students Open Day 2018: 20th & 21st Century Collections at The British Library, 26th February 2018

  • Attended the SPSS Workshop (delivering tools to record and analyse research data) at NTU, March 14th, 2018

  • Attended and presented my paper The Children's Film Foundation - Losing an Audience at Researching Past Cinema Audiences: Archives, Memories and Methods Conference, at Aberystwyth University, March 26th - 28th, 2018 

  • Attended Using Posters to Communicate Research Workshop, at the University of Nottingham April 18th, 2018

  • Attended NTU Doctoral Research Festival at Nottingham Trent University, on 27th April 2018

  • Attended 40 Years of Grange Hill at Windsor Auditorium, Royal Holloway, University of London on 28th April 2018

  • Attended and presented my paper The Children's Film Foundation - Losing an Audience at The NTU School of Arts and Humanities Research Conference NTU City campus, 21st June 2018.

  • Attended and presented my paper The Children's Film Foundation - Losing an Audience at HoMER@NECS (European Network for Cinema & Media Studies) Conference at the University of Amsterdam / VU Amsterdam, 27th-29th June 2018

  • Attended and presented my paper The Children's Film Foundation - Losing an Audience at BCU Screen Cultures Conference, Birmingham City University, July 10th 2018

  • Chaired a panel 'International Spaces and National Identity' at The East Midlands Postgraduate History Conference 2018 at NTU Clifton Campus, July 12th 2018

  • Attended and presented my paper Saturday Morning Cinema Clubs - A Children's Community at The East Midland Postgraduate History Conference 2018 at NTU Clifton Campus, July 12th 2018

  • Presented my research at NTU PubhD on Monday 24th September 2018 at NTU City campus, to new postgraduate and mature students at NTU.

  • Attended the premiere of the documentary film The Children's Film Foundation Story at The Cinema Museum, London, 20th October 2018

  • Began archive research at the BFI (Special Collections), Southbank, London, 29th January 2019.

  • Attended a CMCI Research Seminar Growing Up Modern: Writing The History of Childhood, Youth and Popular Culture Since 1945 at Kings College, London 30th January 2019

  • Presented my research at NTU AAH 'Work in Progress' Seminar on Monday 18th March 2019 at NTU Clifton campus

  • Attended and presented my up-dated paper Saturday Morning Cinema Clubs - A Children's Community at 'No Culture is Low Culture' PGR Festival at Bangor University, April 16th, 2019

  • Attended the NTU 'Three Minute Thesis' Skills and Presentation Workshop, NTU, Clifton campus, March 18th 2019

  • Attended and presented my research in the 'Three Minute Thesis' competition at NTU Doctoral Students' Research Festival, at City campus (Newton Building) March 29th 2019.

  • Attended and completed NTU Teacher Training for PGRs at NTU City Campus, 11th - 20th June, 2019.

 Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links)

'I Lost My Scarf in Frank's Dads Disco' (On-stage rhyming and on-line ranting by Tony (Bigissue) Peppiatt - an anthology from an angry socialist). Published December 2nd 2017. 

Other Research Interests:

Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Post WWII British Politics

The Government suppression of 'Memory of the Camps'

British Film from 1945

British Social and Cultural History 1970s / 1980s


The Films of Shane Meadows


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