On (not) watching Outlander in the United Kingdom

Zoë Shacklock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The cultural proximity thesis states that in a world of transnational media flow, audiences continue to prefer content situated within their local frames of reference. Yet the means through which such content is distributed and accessed can also be sites for cultural proximity. This paper explores how television distribution practices can create transnational meanings through a discussion of the contemporary television series Outlander’s controversial distribution in the United Kingdom. Released in the US at the height of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the Jacobite sympathies of Outlander’s narrative were widely believed to have restricted the UK release of the series. Outlander failed to secure a distribution deal with a UK broadcaster, and was eventually released in the UK on Amazon Prime six months after its US debut. British audiences struggled to reconcile the programme’s foreign distribution with its local relevance, objecting to having to go beyond the recognized spaces of national broadcasting (for distribution and consumption) to access a culturally proximate programme (in terms of content). Watching Outlander in the UK consequently became a transnational experience: one that involved moving beyond the sanctioned boundaries of national broadcasting, and re-contesting the borderlines within the United Kingdom itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-328
JournalVisual Culture in Britain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2016


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