Working in art film or commercial cinema is like dancing through a minefield, and every broadcaster is now racing down-market in a desperate attempt to survive. But what is happening at the BBC is the real scandal: it is bigger than all the rest combined, it is free from direct commercial pressure and its public service obligations carry cultural responsibilities. There are no excuses...(Tony Garnett's credits on IMDB)
The trajectory of energy is in the wrong direction. Instead of erupting upwards in ways which surprise, delight and occasionally shock, it travels censoriously and prescriptively down the pyramid. The writer is left to second guess what might please the power at the top in a grotesque game of pass-the-parcel of notes as they travel from hand to hand, changing their meaning on the way....
So the next time you watch a fine piece of TV drama, grateful for the brilliance of the writer, the director, the actors and the crew, remember the aggravation they had to endure and the guile they had to deploy and the energy they had to waste. You will no longer be puzzled at how rare this experience is or be surprised at the formulaic, repetitive, machine made, emotionally dishonest junk food you now get for your licence fee. The people making most of this predictable junk called drama would love to be creating something better and more nourishing. But they are not allowed to.
Monday, July 13, 2009
In a major article on the Writers' Guild website, Tony Garnett gives his assessment of the state of BBC Drama.