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The term was first coined in 1926 by John Grierson, the man widely thought to be one of the founding fathers of documentary and who went on to make the classic Night Mail in 1936. He defined it as ‘the creative treatment of actuality’ (in Kilborn and Izod, 1997: 12).

But Winston's critique of the form (1995: 11) points out: ‘The supposition that any “actuality” is left after “creative treatment” can now be seen as being at best naïve and at worst a mark of duplicity’ Nevertheless, all forms of documentary in radio and television, within drama-documentary and docu-soaps have at their heart some form of relationship to the real world. Corner (1996) suggests that documentary is now seen as a form of extended journalism.

Some documentarists ...

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