Time and space

Manipulating or playing with time and space can be used when constructing a narrative. In sports coverage time and space are often manipulated to enhance the viewing experience for the audience.

Audiences can watch live sports in a different time zone anywhere in the world.

An infographic explaining how sport is watched in different time zones

Sports progammes often manipulate time and space

In a programme like Match of the Day, the viewer can be transported to different points of view in the context of time and space. Action replays and slow motions from different camera angles can give a better understanding of the game.

An infographic explaining the use of action replays

Action replays and slow motion both manipulate time and space

Manipulation of time and space is also used in the narrative of time travel or science fiction programmes, such as Dr Who. Detective dramas often use flashback scenes to give the audience clues.

Multi-stranded

The narrative structure in television programmes and movies does not always follow one storyline.

This happens most often in Soap operas and long running episodic dramas, such as Eastenders or Casualty.

In these long running shows the audience will be aware of character histories.

This allows the show's producers to link narratives over a series of episodes, encouraging the viewers to keep up to date as the narrative progresses.

Shows like this use cliffhangers to encourage audience loyalty.

Three strand narrative

Casualty uses a three strand narrative structure, introducing three different strands at the start of an episode and then interweaving them as the episode progresses.

An infographic explaining the 3 strand narrative

Serial dramas often use a three strand narrative

One of these strands will be a continuing strand from previous episodes, like an ongoing relationship between two members of hospital staff.

One will be a narrative strand specific to the episode, such as an accident which the episode centres around.

The third strand will usually involve characters in a situation outside of the hospital setting, maybe the private life of a doctor.

A casual viewer will be entertained by the narrative strand specific to the episode. A regular viewer will be interested in the evolving narrative strand which will continue into the next episode.

This is an important feature in maintaining the audience’s interest.