Which British TV drama series served as a precursor to the Play for Today?
What was the controversial subject matter of the BBC drama Brimstone and Treacle?
Which American TV series broke down barriers by tackling controversial issues such as abortion?
Which medical drama was the first to tackle many subjects on television for ABC?
Which TV genre became popular in the mid-to-late 1970s, centred on sexual gratification and bawdy humor and situations?
Which TV crime drama was set in Hawaii and was the most successful of the decade?
Which science-fiction show was adapted from a novel by Isaac Asimov?
Which soap opera became popular among male and college student audiences during the 1970s?
Which independent producer was behind popular TV shows like All in the Family and The Love Boat?
Television Programming Trends in the 1970s
- BBC Two started trials of their new colour service in 1967, which was gradually rolled out over the next few years, and by 1970, viewers had three colour channels to choose from in the UK.
- The Play for Today was a continuation of the Wednesday Play which had run from the mid-1960s, presenting TV drama that had relevance to current social and economic issues.
- The BBC's Director Of Programs Alasdair Milne withdrew Brimstone and Treacle, a story of the rape of a physically and mentally disabled young woman, pronouncing it to be "brilliantly written...but nauseating".
- All in the Family, an adaptation of the British television series Till Death Us Do Part, broke down television barriers in the US when it premiered in 1971.
- Maude, a spin-off of All in the Family, presented American audiences with something they had never encountered on television before when Maude admitted, without guilt or shame, to planning to have an abortion.
- Little House on the Prairie, adapted from the children's books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was a hit American drama series that ran for eight years.
- Medical shows in the early 1970s included Marcus Welby, M.D., the first medical drama ever to tackle many subjects on television for ABC, Medical Center for CBS, and Emergency!.
- By the mid-to-late 1970s, viewers tired of socially responsible sitcoms and started to enjoy "jiggle television" centred on sexual gratification and bawdy humor and situations, including Charlie's Angels and Three's Company.
- Successful TV crime dramas of the decade included The Streets of San Francisco, Columbo, Barnaby Jones, The Rockford Files, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak and, above all, Hawaii Five-O.
- A science-fiction trend accelerated as the 1970s decade progressed, with shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk and Fantasy Island.
- On US television during the 1970s, the soap opera moved from being a genre watched exclusively by housewives to having a sizable audience of men and college students.
- Ryan's Hope, which capitalized on the everyman success of the film Rocky, was a rising soap opera towards the decade's end.Television in the 1970s was dominated by genres like soap operas, game shows, and telefilms, which were consumed by audiences during the mornings and afternoons. The Hollywood Squares and Match Game were popular game shows during this period, while Walter Cronkite led the nightly newscasts for CBS. The decade also saw the rise of movies produced specifically for television, such as Roots and Shogun. Variety shows like The Carol Burnett Show and The Flip Wilson Show also continued to air, while Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and Donny & Marie were popular singing duos that received their own shows. Independent producers like Norman Lear, Aaron Spelling, and Glen A. Larson were behind popular shows like All in the Family, The Love Boat, and McCloud.
Test your knowledge of television programming trends in the 1970s with this quiz! From socially responsible sitcoms to science fiction shows, this decade saw the rise of new genres and the evolution of existing ones. See how much you know about iconic shows like All in the Family, Little House on the Prairie, and The Bionic Woman, as well as the cultural and technological changes that shaped the television landscape.
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