The Left Behind: Precarity, Place and Racial Identity in the Contemporary ‘Serious Drama’

Daniel Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


After the channel's initial rebranding as a streaming-only platform in 2016, BBC Three produced a number of critically successful single dramas which marry the broadcaster's public service remit with the channel's youth-centred identity and new mode of delivery. These programmes continued the tradition of the ‘serious drama’, adopting the single play format in order to represent contemporary social problems via the experiences of younger people. The 2019 drama The Left Behind is an example of this recent form of serious drama and is the subject of a case study in this article. Set in a former mining town in Wales, The Left Behind's subject matter addresses the intersection between the precarity found in Britain's post-industrial regions and the rise of hate crime and nationalist sentiment in recent years. This article asserts that, faced with the often essentialising frameworks through which this intersection and its terms have been produced, The Left Behind offers a complex imagining of how race, geography and precarity inform each other. In particular, the article pays close attention to the drama's textural construction of space and place. I consider how space and place are represented as the material sites in which the tensions of post-industrial classed and ethnicised identities are experienced, and I suggest that it is The Left Behind's particular engagement with space, made possible by its existence as an online serious drama, that allows it to convey these dynamic tensions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


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