A creature not quite of this World: Adaptations of Margaret Thatcher on 1980s British televisiona
Because the image conveyed by Margaret Thatcher was a construct and therefore artificial, what she looked and sounded like easily transferred from reality into heightened layers of parody and satire. But the way Thatcher appeared on a number of 1980s television texts is striking in terms of how her leadership and persona were read within gendered terms. Thatcher herself consistently downplayed the importance of gender or her own femininity. For her, politics functioned on the basis of convictions, principles and economic theories and far from thinking of herself in gendered terms, Thatcher sought to locate her leadership within gender-neutral realms. There is ultimately little to distinguish the actual Thatcher from the parodic Thatcher; this is inevitable for a leader whose image was so artificial. But where there is a major divergence between reality and the adaptation of reality is on the question of gender. Parodies of Thatcher on 1980s British television consistently returned Thatcher to gendered realms of conduct, showing her as nanny, ice maiden, warrior queen and often as a type conceptualized by film theorists as the ‘monstrous feminine’. This article explores parodies of Thatcher, showing ways in which, in contrast to Thatcher’s own insistence on gender neutrality, comedic and parodic works that were supposedly avant-garde or alternative in fact resorted to highly traditional gender types as the only way to make sense of Margaret Thatcher.
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