The Lord of Misrule: misbehaving badly in a Cornish town

ROBINSON, Andrew (2019). The Lord of Misrule: misbehaving badly in a Cornish town. In: Folklore On Screen - A 2-day international conference with a hauntological music event, Sheffield Hallam University, 13 - 14 September 2019. The Centre for Contemporary Legend Research Group at Sheffield Hallam University. (Unpublished)

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This paper will examine the representation of folk custom within the narrative structure of the rarely seen and largely overlooked 1996 TV Film ‘The Lord of Misrule’ a feature length, made for TV comedy film, written and directed by Guy Jenkin (Drop the Dead Donkey, Ballot Monkeys), produced by Hat Trick Productions and aired on the BBC. The story centres around the chaos that ensues when former Lord Chancellor Bill Webster (Richard Wilson) decides to sell his memoirs to a tabloid newspaper in order to raise money to save his crumbling Cornish house. This poses a threat to national security which leads to the involvement of the PM, Minister of state, MI5 and a tabloid journalist all of whom are forced to leave their metropolitan base to descend on the village ultimately resulting in the PM fighting with tabloid journalists over a briefcase containing half a million pounds in a village duck pond. The action takes place over two days in a small Cornish coastal town where the annual ‘Lord of Misrule’ custom and a related carnival is taking place. The portrayal of this fictional custom draws heavily on a number of English season customs and is intertwined with the developing narrative throughout the film, interfering with the action, acting as a comedic foil and providing a metaphoric parallel to the chaotic matters of state and the national misrule this represents. Whilst perhaps falling outside the folk horror genre, this overlooked and largely forgotten slice of 90s television drama shares tropes with many film and television works closely associated with the genre which will be reviewed and discussed.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2023 13:49
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 17:30

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