Docudrama as ‘Histotainment’ Repackaging Family History in the Digital Age

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Debra J. Donnelly
Emma L. Shaw


Ways of accessing and understanding history have shifted in contemporary society with history being repackaged for public consumption in a vast array of digital technologies. These technologies present historical narratives which aim to simultaneously entertain and educate. This research project introduces the term ‘histotainment’ for this fusing of history and entertainment. Docudramas are a strong example of the popularity of this form of histotainment. This article explores how family history docudramas are presented as prime time TV entertainment and examines the factors that contribute to their success. Using a qualitative content analysis approach, this research analyses two recent Australian docudramas, Who Do You Think You Are? (2019) and Back in Time for Dinner (2018), and presents a model to explain this melding of history with digital media.


[i] Who Do You Think You Are?, television program series and DVD, SBS, Australia, April 30, 2019.

[ii] Back in Time for Dinner, television program series, ABC, Sydney, May 4, 2018.

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