Despite ITV performing well in drama this year - it has broadcast the five highest-rating new dramas, Whitechapel, Above Suspicion, Unforgiven, Law & Order: UK and, ironically, Demons - rating success is clearly no longer a measure of survival at the broadcaster. But if ITV is getting rid of relative successes, what will it have left?Armstrong says that ITV's top rate for primetime drama is now £700k an hour, while the BBC will spend around £400k per hour for BBC3 and BBC4 and £900,000 for BBC1. In America, by contrast, networks will spend up to $5m per hour (about £3.6m at current exchange rates)
"You need to develop the show with budget restrictions in mind from the very beginning - smaller cast, fewer locations - you have to think like a sitcom," says Robert Cooper, the co-founder of Great Meadows, the indie behind Margaret Thatcher - The Long Walk To Finchley. "Then you spread the cost with co-producers - which can be a problem as the British audience can smell a Europudding at 100 paces.
"So far we are on the edge of it having a cultural effect," Cooper believes. "If it does start limiting the subject matter and ambition of TV drama makers then I think we are in trouble. We're looking at a book adaptation, for instance, and that has certain creative demands you simply can't avoid. It may be that TV versions of books are no longer possible."