Bland, inoffensive, or just crap – TV drama exists because the industry doesn’t think its audience can handle complex storytelling, said Guild member Paul Abbott, who gave The Huw Wheldon Lecture at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge on Thursday 15 September.Media Guardian (free registration required) also has a report. And there is comment from Maggie Brown in The Stage.
In a speech called ‘What Do You Want To Watch Tomorrow?’ Abbott pointed to the ambition and diligence of the American series Lost, whose creators, he said, had the willingness to renew what counts as modern TV drama. While in the UK we spend as much money making Footballers’ Wives as we did on Cracker.
The Shameless and State of Play creator told broadcasting executives: “We need more drama that unpeels society, that roots through the cubbyholes to fetch us nuggets of human behaviour that opens our eyes a bit. Not just the dark stuff. Wondrous fragments of ordinary people that can take our breath away.”
“Most people in the industry will quietly admit they don’t watch much telly. Why not? Well, probably because they’ve yet to make anything they’d actually want to watch themselves.”
Paul Abbott doesn’t want a bloody revolution. He just wants the many talented writers, actors and production teams to believe in their audience and for people to believe in their ideas.
“The audience deserves, and I believe craves, much more protein in their diet. Only by giving the viewer a workout, making them join the dots, use their imagination, can we reclaim television drama as the challenging, exciting, life-changing medium that I and many others have known it to be.”
You can watch the speech for yourself on Monday night on BBC2 at 11.20pm