Drama as Science Documentary: The Ethics of Making and 'Banning' The Black Pool

David Rolinson
2017 Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television  
science documentary series Horizon (BBC2, 1964-present) but never transmitted. Aiming to provide a case history of paranoid schizophrenia, Horizon commissioned Alan Plater to dramatise an 'autobiographical document' by a doctor who murdered three children in 1972. Its makers debated the most appropriate form and style, raising issues which are relevant to current documentary scholarship in ethics and affect. Similar issues were raised by BBC executives who decided not to broadcast the completed
more » ... dcast the completed programme. This period produced several programmes which were banned, delayed or not completed, but 'The Black Pool' and the circumstances behind it are not well-known. This article draws from a range of sources, including a new interview with director Simon Campbell-Jones, previously-unseen archival documents and a viewing of the untransmitted programme, not merely to uncover a 'banning' but to reflect on ethical and affective questions in current scholarship and to address the nature of science documentary and science docudrama. The article contributes to studies of 'forgotten drama' both in terms of this unseen and largely undiscussed programme and in terms of a neglected, specialised culture of drama in documentary strands in general and science documentary strands in particular. Made for the BBC science series Horizon (BBC2, 1964-present), 'The Black Pool' dramatised an autobiographical manuscript by a doctor who had murdered three children in a
doi:10.1080/01439685.2016.1272808 fatcat:yressff77nanlfyyussaeycjgq