Monday, January 05, 2009

Will drama series lose out to reality TV?

In The Guardian, Gareth McLean forecasts that TV drama series are locked into a fight with entertainment shows that they are destined to lose.
...the biggest development of 2009 will be the escalation of the battle between drama and entertainment. The likes of The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and I'm a Celebrity provide drama all of their own, not to mention popular spin-offs, tabloid frenzies and ample water-cooler conversation - and all for a fraction of the cost of drama. If a show such as Britain's Got Talent can get 9 million at 9pm on ITV on a Wednesday, what is the point of Rock Rivals which managed, at most, 3.9 million?

More recently, BBC1's Spooks, Apparitions and Survivors were all floored by the thundering juggernaut of I'm a Celebrity (though it's arguable that the last two were also hindered by their own not inconsiderable flaws). As money becomes scarce, ratings will become more important.

Channel 4 seems to have all but given up on returning drama series, cutting even Shameless's run, because the reward simply doesn't justify the outlay. If you can attract awards and plaudits with occasional singles, such as The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall, or serials such as The Devil's Whore (truncated though it was), why bother looking for the next No Angels or Teachers?

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