Word Screen Park
Kevin McMahon
"Rooms against chronicles"- the house in Edwardian TV

I gave a paper at the Spaces of Television conference at the University of Reading, September 2013. Many thanks to Jonathan Bignell, Billy Smart and Leah Panos for hosting a provocative and eye-opening event. And thanks to my co-panelist Daniel Ashton, whose paper on Jane Austen TV-inspired tourism covered a whole category of relevant issues I didn't have time to talk about.

As the opening shows, this topic permitted me to knit together a lot of favorite topics ...


If the Edwardians created modernity, modernity has returned the favor by endlessly re-creating the Edwardians. And these re-creations have been based on scripts written by the Edwardians themselves. As such, they feature houses that are more than scenery.

Just think of the Edwardian addresses that are general knowledge: 221-B Baker Street, Toad Hall, Howards’ End, Blandings Castle, Heartbreak House, The Bloom residence at 7 Eccles Street, … up to the Edwardian real estate on Pepys Road in John Lanchester’s novel Capital of last year.

Plus the sub-genre of Edwardian domestic landscapes, from The Secret Garden, and Mr. McGregor’s garden, to the actual gardens of Gertrude Jekyll, up to the trenches, and No Man’s Land.

We’re going to focus on one of these addresses, the town house that housed Upstairs, Downstairs: 165 Eaton Place. Let’s try to detect—in the original sense of “peering underneath the roof”—how 165 is organized. …