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Twin Peaks conference – an interview with Dr Kirsty Fairclough-Issacs

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This week sees unusual conference take place in the North West. ‘“I’ll See you in 25 years”: A Twin Peaks and Generations of Cult TV will be held at the University of Salford, from 21st – 22nd May. Moxie McMurder spoke to Dr Kirsty Fairclough-Issacs about the conference and the lasting legacy of Lynch’s foray in to television.

AN EVENING ON TWIN PEAKS – a special evening discussion event – takes place 21st May at Media City Salford


 

I sit at my computer drinking coffee, black as a moonlight night, dreaming of cherry pie and owls that are not what they seem as I think of Dr Kirsty Fairclough-Issacs, the woman behind the red curtain, she is a long time Twin Peaks fan and is the woman behind the conference. Kirsty has lined up some great keynote speakers for this conference and the two day event looks to be a fantastic experience for anyone wishing to have a deeper understanding of the cult show that we’re still talking about 24 years after it went off air. As well as guest speakers and discussions regarding various aspects of the show, writer and broadcaster, Film 2015’s Danny Leigh will join BBC Radio 4 producer Dave James for a special airing of the recent BBC Radio 4 Twin Peaks documentary and a Q&A session on the making of the documentary will follow afterwards.

Despite being very busy with the conference Kirsty kindly answered some questions for us:

 

What is your own background and interest with regards Lynch and Twin Peaks in particular?

I have been a Twin Peaks fan since I was a teenager and have taught Film Studies for many years. Lynch has always been a particularly interesting director. It’s been fantastic to bring these areas together for the conference!


It may seem like an unusual choice – how does Twin Peaks overlap with traditional fields of study?

It seemed an obvious choice for us. I think it’s safe to say that Twin Peaks has served as a blueprint for what has become known as ‘quality television’, due to its high production values, narrative complexity and auteur-driven status. Its influence on later US TV drama productions such as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and House of Cards amongst others is clear and well documented. The set of creative strategies associated with what has become known as ‘quality television’, a term originally coined by Robert Thompson in 1996 in his book,” From Hill St Blues to ER: Television’s Second Golden Age”, are evident in Twin Peaks and have been discussed at length by critics and scholars alike. These strategies include the breaking of the established rules of television, a production team who have often developed their creative skills in other areas, particularly film, a large ensemble cast, which allows for multiple plot lines with actors that are often established, also allowing for an in-built fan base to quickly develop. Quality television also often refers back to previous episodes and seasons in the development of plot. It contains cultural references and allusions to popular culture. This type of television is recognised and appreciated by critics, with awards and critical acclaim abound.  This is a very rich area for television studies as well as media and cultural studies due to the depth of representations present in the series.

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The conference takes place over 2 days and looks be to be a diverse and highly detailed event. How has it been setting the conference up and getting everyone together?

Challenging at times, but overall, a lot of fun!

Twin Peaks has a large cult following and has influenced countless writers and musicians etc From your own perspective why do you think the show is so popular and inspires so many?

Its surrealism, its visual style and its sound design and music.

Are there any papers you are particularly looking forward to?

We have a fantastically diverse set of papers from academics across the globe. We’re so pleased by the interest in the conference. I’m looking forward to hearing as many papers as possible. Its very much an international conference. We have presenters from Brazil, Spain and Norway and our keynote speaker, David Lavery is from one of our partner institutions in Nashville, Tennessee. Our connections overseas in the School of Arts and Media are growing and we are very proud of the work we do internationally. This conference is the first in a series that will look at quality popular television and will engage with our partners across the world.

How have the recent setbacks and subsequent news regarding the series been received?

The news this morning that Lynch s back on board for the third series is unbelievable. Its going to make for an even more exciting conference!


AN EVENING ON TWIN PEAKS – a special evening discussion event – takes place 21st May at Media City Salford

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