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Encyclopedia > Kitchen sink drama

Kitchen sink drama was a recognisable British cultural movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was seen in the theatre, in film and in television plays. Its hallmark was a more realistic representation of social life — country houses and tennis courts were out, ironing boards and minor domestic squalor were in, as in John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger with ironing as a piece of stage business. This was a reaction against the Noel Coward/Terence Rattigan style of dramatic setting.

Another factor particularly notable in the films and novels of the time is the use of North of England situations, accents and themes (for example Rugby League, the iconic sport of Lancashire and Yorkshire). This combined with a frankness about sex, and a more political content (sometimes descending to rants), to mark a rather clean break with the assumptions of 1950 in the arts generally.

Kitchen sink drama is sometimes conflated with the rise of the Angry Young Men. It was in fact more substantive, less driven by journalistic excess, and is more properly its successor.



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