Trinity – youth and social class

Series one episode one: 25:02 – 27:30 / 32:24 – 35:00 / 48:35 – 50:43

Camera use


Mise en scene



Trinity is a posh university where only the very best students go. We immediately get an impression of a great divide between the privileged and the ordinary working class students.

We are soon made aware that Theo, the young black male, is ill-at ease, presented in an over the shoulder medium close up, as if we are watching him and waiting for him to fail, in the dining hall between two other students who look as if they belong there, and in a series of quick cuts between Theo and the glasses on the table and Charlotte’s face, he is shown not knowing which is his glass and being told by the server not to drink until after the grace has been said, zoom in close up on his embarrassed face.

Next they stand for the grace, a long shot shows us the ‘posh’ surroundings, the chandeliers, tall wood beamed ceilings, wooden tables, glassware and students and fellows in black gowns and mortar-boards, cue Theo’s next embarrassment. Here the non-diegetic music clues us in on his coming humiliation as it is light and mischievous in character. He doesn’t know the Latin grace and has to be fed it by Charlotte but mishears and his rendition is loudly laughed at by all as the camera closes in on his red face then zooms out to reveal the room full of people laughing and pointing at him.

In the next scene leaving the dining hall Theo encounters Dorien (Lord Gordayne); this scene is set in a busy outside corridor but the people passing are usually out of focus and in focus are Theo, Dorien and a friend of Dorien usually seen in a three shot behind but between the two having the conversation. Here again Theo is set up to fail, first of all seen in a long shot picking up Dorien’s dropped walking cane then seen tugging on Dorien’s yellow brocade waistcoat but calling him a member of the marigold club (a veiled jibe??)Theo is cast in the role of supplicant to the superior Dorien who appears to act friendly putting his arm around Theo’s neck and telling him the principles of the club to reject work, drink a lot and have a lot of sex, can he manage that. Upon Theo asking how he joins a slow zoom in on the pair shows Dorien deliberately blowing smoke in Theo’s face and telling him he can’t because his parents are poor. Close up on Theo’s face followed by a zoom out as we see him in context with the other students laughing at his humiliation.

The final scene begins with an establishing shot of a gothic style redbrick turreted building, the college, by night. A jump cut takes us into the fray of the party of the ‘Feast of Fools’ a series of mid shots, separated by jump cuts, show various party-goers drinking, dancing, two girls kissing but all dressed in very smart clothes with fashionable hair styles. The young men are all dressed in their yellow waistcoats to indicate their membership of this exclusive group, except for Theo who is dressed casually in a patterned shirt over a mid blue T-shirt, the only one not in a jacket and tie, and seen in mid shot standing isolated from the others in small groups around him indicating his separation and disapproval of the proceedings. The sound of this scene is almost entirely diegetic from the drunken party sounds and music to the drum roll, whistle blow and heckling laughter of the party-goers to the music that is played when the game involving the ‘fools’ begins ‘I Like the Way you move.’ This being an ironic jibe at the way the fools are having to behave. The Fools, Raj Puri and Angus … (previously seen smoking dope – showing their assumption that this is standard practice at university -and being late for dinner) are for the first time, apparently, ‘voluntary’ i.e. press-ganged into it as a way of being accepted in an environment to which they are strangers. They represent the uninvited, the poor working class who have got into the university on their brains not their purses. The mid shot of two of the ‘toffs’ betting on the outcome of the game ‘£20 on the brown one’ epitomises the social divide.

This is a privileged environment where the rules are not the same for everyone. The programme seems to reinforce certain stereotypical representations and beliefs about the upper classes as idle and debauched typified by Dorien and as seen through their behaviour, dress and attitudes to others while young people are portrayed differently depending on their class. Theo, seems to typify the hardworking working class who want to fit in but are scandalised by the arrogance and callous indifference of his socially advantaged peers, Charlotte the rather prudish Christian is searching for the answers to her father, a former fellow of the university’s, death and Raj and Angus though from vastly different backgrounds, one Asian the other Scottish have found common ground in their treatment by the ‘Daffodil Club.’


Examples 20

Analysis and argument 20

Terminology 10

Feedback on Ashes to Ashes

  • Use terms: realism / verisimilitude / privilege / side-lined… denote / denotations / connote / connotations.
  • Expectations of gender etc: conform to stereotype / adhere to conventions / challenge or subvert expectations.
  • Answer the question: women are shown to be / the role of women is / Alex Drake is constructed as… and as a result the audience’s expectations of her are…
  • ‘The representation of women adheres to the stereotypical expectations in this case Alex Drake is constructed as a prostitute: short red dress, stay ups, low cleavage and heels and with gaudy jewellery, makeup and hair style. However she subverts our expectations when trying to calm the man who has taken her hostage. She also subverts the expectations of the policemen as seen in the shot reverse shot from Alex to the two shot of Ray and Chris’ quick look at each other.’
  • She adheres to the classic expectations of that era in her style of dress, the way she faints and her confusion. She is also ignored by the police raiding party.
  • However her use of psychology to calm her captor and calm demeanour convince him to do what she suggests.
  • Also her seeming lack of fear in a man’s world. She is confused but not made timid. As seen in the long shot of her forced entry into Hunt’s office.
  • What do the shots tell us? What information is given to us by each of the technical aspects?

Don’t try to write about everything pick a selection of the most important points from throughout the extract if possible and explain their significance.

  • Camera:
    • Her outfit – c/up, pan up
    • Her confusion – c/up, reaction shots
    • She is ignored – pan shot to mid shot to see how she reacts to for her an unfamiliar situation.
    • Taken hostage – close up of her reaction to the arrival of Hunt becomes her reaction to the man taking her hostage
    • Long shot through her legs of red car
    • Reverse shot of hunt looking at her legs
    • Tracking of car arriving at speed – connotes the status of those arriving
    • Low angle on exiting policemen from car – importance
    • Close up on Hunt’s boots – non regulation
    • She faints – mid shot out of frame – more typical reaction
    • High angle-shot of her lying in car – sexualised as heard in Carling’s comment.
    • Wide shot of her carried into police station – damsel in distress, reaction shots of those they pass
    • In office and on her feet low angle mid shot looking up at chequerboard ceiling, camera revolves around her to emphasise her confusion.


  • Mise en scene:
    • Boat – wealth – male power domain – low level lighting – connotations of illicit / subversive activity
    • Abandoned warehouse and wasteland – limbo? Power changes hands – her clothing vs males’
    • Heroes seen approaching in the distance set up like a western! Connotations of the cavalry to the rescue / dust!
    • Police stations ceiling – of chess board – pawn – game…?


  • Editing:
    • Slow in early stages to emphasise confusion and waking up
    • Slow straight cuts as she walks through boat shows her attempt to understand – intercut with men reaching out to her, emphasises her status and their expectations of her.
    • Jump cuts as raid begins adds speed and urgency
    • Shot reverse shot points of view behind and through Alex’s legs of Gene Hunt then from GH looking at her legs shows different reactions and expectations.
    • Slower pace of editing during Alex’s talking to man in hostage scene to increase intensity but also her control of the situation.


  • Sound:
    • Ultravox’ Vienna – 80s classic anchors action in 80s also ironic lyrics ‘ it means nothing to me!’
    • Older viewers will know it!
    • Loud urgent action music as car approaches accompanied by diegetic screech of tyres and accelerator.
    • Lots of diegetic noises to create sense of realism but non-diegetic music often overwhelms it as if to emphasise Alex’s confusion.
    • Diegetic at police station and commented on by Alex as if to show ‘this is real’ to her.