Horrible histories? Vampire television, period drama, intimacy and spectacle

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


Vampires are essentially immortal and thus, while contemporary vampire TV is generally set resolutely in the present, the epic scale of a vampire’s existence affords vast potential for period drama visited via flashback. Even a show as realist in its style as Being Human (UK) has flirted with period flashback, albeit in restricted ways. This paper examines the different ways vampire TV has accessed the spectacle of period drama, presenting an alternative version of its usual televisual self, and playing with a different set of genre conventions. Period flashbacks are designed to provide novel spectacle, and can also afford the pleasure of a different version of a familiar character appearing in a new context. Yet this paper argues that contemporary vampire television shows, as exemplified by Angel, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood and Being Human, tie this refreshing new perspective to recurring characters and ongoing thematic preoccupations, balancing novelty and epic scale with the familiarity and repetition characteristic of serial drama on television. Thus, while Linda V. Troost describes ‘heritage space’ as ‘a space for the display of heritage properties rather than for the enactment of dramas’ (2007, 81) vampire TV shows integrate heritage and period elements with drama informing current character arcs and plot lines
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2013
EventTV Fangdom: A Conference on Television Vampires - The University of Northampton
Duration: 8 Jun 2013 → …


ConferenceTV Fangdom: A Conference on Television Vampires
Period8/06/13 → …
Internet address


  • Vampire
  • television
  • period drama
  • character
  • back story
  • intimacy


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