Televising island spaces: re-reading the rural from a far off shore?

Kathryn A Burnett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentationpeer-review


Islands hold a particular fascination for those who live beyond them. As cultural constructs islands, islanders and ‘islandness’ offer a set of tropes and symbolism that mediate a range of modern desires, demands and opportunities. Islands offer broadcasters particularly interesting spaces to work with. Often iconic, visually and culturally rich in metaphor island spaces are frequently positioned as textual ciphers of what is valued in terms of British rurality, cultural transmission and community relations. Yet islands as a lived reality are often difficult, marginal and peripheral spaces to live and work in. This paper offers a critique of recent UK television texts that have specifically flagged island spaces as sites of interest, value and difference. Following Edensor (2006), Du Puis (2006), Cloke et al. (2004) and Wood (2006), for example, this paper examines the nature of televised island space as site of performed and gentrified rural otherness. With reference to the work of Georg Simmel, Howard Newby, and Raymond Williams the paper will critique the ‘emptied’ and ‘anonymous’ tendencies of televised rural space, and provide some consideration of how this, not least as public service broadcasting, informs rural policy and discourse both within and outwith island spaces themselves. Textual analysis will be presented from two UK BBC television series: Monty Halls’ Great Hebridean Escape (2010), and the recent Hebrides: Islands on the Edge (2013).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2014
EventMedia, Communication and Cultural Studies Association Annual Conference 2014 - Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jan 201410 Jan 2014


ConferenceMedia, Communication and Cultural Studies Association Annual Conference 2014
Abbreviated titleMeCCSA 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • islands
  • remote
  • media representation
  • Atlantic
  • Alterity
  • Shetland
  • migration history
  • Scotland
  • Tristan da Cuhna


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