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Helen Wood - Aston University. Birmingham, B4 7ET, GB

Helen Wood

Professor in Media and Cultural Studies | Aston University

Birmingham, B4 7ET, UNITED KINGDOM

Helen Wood is the author of numerous books and articles on media, gender and class formation.



Helen Wood Publication Helen Wood Publication Helen Wood Publication




Researching Inequalities: Helen Wood




Helen Wood joined Aston University as a professor in media and cultural studies within the Sociology and Policy department of the College of Business and Social Sciences on 1 September 2023.

She moves from the University of Lancaster, and was previously head of the School of Media, Communication and Sociology at the University of Leicester.

Helen is the author of numerous books and articles on media, gender and class formation, including Talking With Television (Illinois), Reacting to Reality Television with Beverley Skeggs (Routledge) and Audience (forthcoming).

She was editor of the European Journal of Cultural Studies from 2010-2023 and sits on the editorial boards of Feminist Media Studies, Television and New Media and Critical Studies in Television.

Helen was special adviser to the 2019 Parliamentary Inquiry into reality television and is principal investigator of the AHRC UKRI Grant ‘RE-Care TV: Reality television, working practices and duties of care’ (with partners: DCMS select committee, BECTU and Equity).

Areas of Expertise (5)





Cultural Studies

Affiliations (3)

  • Feminist Media Studies : Editorial Board
  • Television and New Media : Editorial Board
  • Critical Studies in Television : Editorial Board

Media Appearances (9)

Dark Side of Reality TV: Aston University Scholar Exposes Unsettling Incidents and Industry Reforms

West Island Blog  online


Helen Wood, a renowned media and cultural studies scholar at the University of Aston, brings these tales to light, drawing from a rich well of critical investigations into the thriving reality TV industry. As an esteemed parliamentary advisor, she has probed into the necessary industry reforms, revealing startling backstage incidents absent from our screens.

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The Front Page: Sordid history of reality TV finally leading to change

New Zealand Herald  online


Helen Wood, a professor of media and cultural studies at the UK’s University of Aston, has written extensively about reality TV and also served as a parliamentary advisor for an inquiry into what the industry needs to change. She tells The Front Page podcast that in investigating this sector, she has heard no shortage of shocking stories about what happens outside the gaze of the camera.

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Reality TV stars threaten union action - does the industry need to change?

The Front Page Podcast  online


Today on The Front Page, Damien is joined by Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the UK’s University of Aston, Helen Wood. She has written extensively about reality TV, and served as a parliamentary advisor for an inquiry into the industry.

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Bruce Lee, mental health in reality TV, poet Sean Street on birdsong

BBC Radio 4  radio


On the 50th anniversary of the release of the martial arts film Enter The Dragon, actor and filmmaker Daniel York Loh and Bruce Lee’s biographer Matthew Polly discuss the star of the film, Bruce Lee, and his continuing influence across culture.

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Aston University Announces To Welcome Media And Cultural Studies Expert

India Education Diary.com  online


Aston University has announced the appointment of the former European Journal of Cultural Studies editor, Professor Helen Wood. Helen will join as a professor in media and cultural studies within the Sociology and Policy department of the College of Business and Social Sciences in September 2023.

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Big Brother Died for a Reason, But a Radical Reboot Could Save It

Vice  online


“You can’t ever get the freshness back,” says Helen Wood, a professor of media and cultural studies at Lancaster University. “When Big Brother arrived, it was really trading on the idea of a psychological experiment. Well, there’s no experiment left.”

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Big Brother is coming back – the reality TV landscape today will demand a more caring show

The Conversation  online


ITV2 has announced the return of Big Brother to the UK with a promo trailer during this year’s Love Island final. Big Brother’s successful format of putting a group of housemates together in a controlled environment as an “experiment” to observe their behaviour has proved entertainment gold with international iterations, spin-offs and many imitations across the world.

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Meghan and Harry Interview: Royal Confessionals Have Always Threatened the Monarchy

The Wire  online


The “confessional” is often used in celebrity cultures to manufacture intimacies with audiences. Celebrities disclose something personal and reveal their “authentic” selves. However, as sociology and media scholars Helen Wood, Beverley Skeggs and Nancy Thumin note, elite, white, male celebrity confessions tend to be treated with gravitas. But women’s confessionals – particularly women of colour or those associated with “low culture professions” (such as celebrities) – are all too often treated as inappropriate, oversharing and narcissistic.

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Democratisation of TV: Do the people hold the power?

The Telegraph  online


Although traditional TV commercials are regulated by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, this kind of app-based product placement represents a new development. "I think it will get regulated – once Ofcom get their heads around it," says Helen Wood, a Media and Communication professor at the University of Leicester.

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Articles (7)

Class, victim credibility and the Pygmalion problem in real crime dramas Three Girls and Unbelieveable

The Routledge Companion to Gender, Media and Violence

2023 This chapter considers the classed dimensions of victim credibility as they are depicted in the real crime TV drama series Three Girls (BBC, 2017) and Unbelieveable (Netflix, 2019). While both series come from different television stables and the real crimes they interrogate are different, they both share an important thread in that the victims were initially not believed because of their association with “risky” and chaotic lifestyles.

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‘The race for space’: capitalism, the country and the city in Britain under COVID-19


2021 This article draws on the work of Raymond Williams to argue that under covid-19 the dominant ‘ways of seeing’ the countryside and the city in Britain are working to obscure the structural violence of capitalism. Cultural narratives of ‘exodus’ from the city abound in British media, fuelling a material ‘race for space’ as the middle class rush to buy up rural properties.

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Beauty and class

The Routledge Companion to Beauty Politics

2021 This entry will draw on the wider historical and theoretical ideas about the way in which the body operates as a key site of social calibration, where symbolic markers draw the boundaries of social hierarchies. The classed body is not only a telling sign of access to wealth and economic resources, but also importantly a key means of communicating social “value” and therefore also a site of struggle and contestation.

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“I am against Americanizing England. Ordinary TV does not seem to have an elevating influence”

Feminist Media Studies

2021 This article analyses (broadly lower middle-class) women’s responses to the arrival of commercial television in the UK in the 1950s, and seeks to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of British women’s relationship to television, consumer capitalism, and modernity in the mid-twentieth century.

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Cultural commons: Critical responses to COVID-19, part 2

European Journal of Cultural Studies

2020 It feels like we launched Cultural Commons – a short-form section committed to voicing radically contextualist, rapid response analyses – at an opportune moment, just as the world seemed to spin off its socio-political axis amid a global catastrophe.

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Specialist adviser’s submission to DCMS on The Jeremy Kyle Show

Memo to the DCMS Inquiry into Reality Television

2019 This evidence is submitted as a joint statement by Dr Hayley Dare and Professor Helen Wood2in their capacities as expert advisers to the committee.

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‘Speaking to you at home’ BBC voices that made the BBC Centenary project

History of the BBC

2019 Many male presenters came to television through light entertainment, but women came through a number of different routes. How did they contribute to television’s particular and intimate style of address?

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