Representations of intergenerational care on BBC children’s television

Sanna Inthorn

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper contributes to research on media representations of care with a textual analysis of BBC children’s television. As a public service broadcaster, the BBC is tasked with the fostering and sustaining of citizenship. This paper argues that representations of care are an important way by which the BBC can potentially meet its remit and inform children’s perceptions of informal care. It takes a focused look at the portrayal of grandparent-grandchild relationships of care in three programmes: ‘Mr Alzheimer’s and Me’, Katie Morag and Topsy and Tim. All three programmes show narrative moments which map onto Tronto’s (1998; 2003) concept of good care, including attentiveness, responsibility, competence, responsiveness, solidarity and trust. Grandparents and grandchildren are shown to be caring for each other. However, programmes do not challenge the inequalities which continue to structure the realities of informal care work. Neither the inequalities of power between carers and care receivers, nor the lack of public and government support for carers are addressed, and adult informal care is gendered. This paper argues that while BBC children’s programmes provide important opportunities for children to learn the meaning of good care, in order for it to meet its public service remit, it should also provide opportunities to learn about the relationships of power that structure informal care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Semiotics
Issue number1
Early online date2 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • intergenerational care
  • representation of care
  • children’s television
  • BBC
  • British television

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