Friday, August 04, 2006

The Death of Drama?

I've just been looking at the BARB figures for the week ended 23 July. The three much hyped new shows from the networks, Sorted, The Chase and Jane Hall all had LESS viewers than Big Brother.

Man that saddens me. We can't make good enough drama to entice people away from watching ordinary people being.......ordinary.'s the summer. BB has a built in audience. New shows take time to bed in.

Yeah maybe. I hope the figures get better, for all our sakes. Otherwise the accountants are going to decide that drama just ain't worth it. Okay a degree of hype there but also a grain of truth. Witness the pitiful amount of original drama available across the networks.

I know the amount of hard work and talent that has gone into producing those shows and in no way am I attempting to be snarky. My hat is off.

But in all honesty does the premise of any of these new shows make you say to yourself 'Yep, I'm staying in to watch/set the video for that?

It really doesn't matter how well written they are. You have to attract an audience to them in the first place. I'm not feeling it, and judging by the figures so far I'm not alone. Maybe they are slow burners. I hope so.

Some good news on the horizon. My agents inform me that ITV are dropping their snoozefest dark dreary dramas from the 9 0'clock spot in favour of lighter more entertaining fare.

So get writing!


susiesoap said...

Hello Dave,

Is "lighter more entertaining fare" programmes like "All About George" and "Rosemary and Thyme"?

They're the guily pleasure of the schedules. Don't mean to watch them, yet somehow always do.

English Dave said...

Susie, I think they are so desperate they don't quite know what they mean.

Both the shows you mention were hardly ratings busters. I think that ITV especially are slowly coming to terms with the fact that a potential audience has to be wooed. If you don't pre-sell the idea how do you expect an audience to find their way there?

Devoting scarce prime time to one or two hour dramas was a huge commercial mistake as that was pretty much all they had going for them at the time. [Let's not talk about Bad Girls etc]

Danny-K said...

I think there are conflicting reports emanating from ITV. For the past year it's been nothing but financial gloom from them. And now this announcement that they're shaving 20 million pounds off the drama budget over the coming year -

I think the important words in the communication to you were, "ITV are dropping..."

So, I wonder - just how much they are going to invest in "lighter more entertaining fare"?

ie., Series 2 of Doc Martin and others etc., rather than anything new?

English Dave said...

Danny as far as I can tell desperate is the key word. I've posted before about the formula linking advertising revenue to ratings.

3 or 4 million on prime time just doesn't cut it. And that's what they've been getting with series.

I was at an industry function a couple of weeks ago. Life On Mars was continually brought up as the new ' Can you give us life on Mars but different'

I wish they were saying 'Can you give us something people will actually tune in to?'

Danny-K said...

-'Can you give us life on Mars but different'-

Tee hee... yeah, they won't be put off Dave, it's underway.

It's still at the commissioning stage but it's to be called - "Time of your Life" - this time they've cast it with a female lead in her thirties who wakes up from a coma after 20 years or so.

English Dave said...

Ahhh, it's Life On Mars with a female perspective! Interesting. Lol!

Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

I'm sorry (or sad) to say that nothing I've seen from the UK really floats my boat.

Perhaps I'm strange, but I hate the soaps and I'm not really keen on Dr Who (although I will watch it if I stumble upon it).

I did like Life on Mars, but I think it lost its way towards the end. To me that was a concept that should have been a mini series or he should have made it back to the future at the end of series one. I think the nostalgia of the 70's will tire soon at the start of series 2 and the show will die on its arse (but what do I know).

Things I like are:

Dead like me
The West Wing
Commander in Chief
Monarch of the Glenn
Battlestar Galactica
Space: Above and Beyond

Only one of those is from the UK and some failed to catch on. Perhaps I'm just an odd-ball :)


Danny-K said...

'Chris (UK Scriptwriter)' - You like LOST?


The most contrived plotting EVER!

Contrived, contrived, contrived.

6 episodes or so were fine, got the gist of it - after that the producers were just taking the piss!!

Anyone who sticks with LOST in my book has got to be good-natured, even-tempered and slow to anger.
Not a 'twitchy' person.

They saw the success of 24, and thought: "How far can we push contrivance before the pips of viewers start to squeak?"

Chris, surely you must have some objections to series 2? Another group of survivors are found on the other side of the same island from the same plane! So hey! Guess what viewers? We get to feed you the same crap all over AGAIN, but with a twist - we get new writers to give you their spin on the same episodes that you saw first time round!

It's not just the UK that can come up with some miserable programming - The US can hole boats on its own too.

Lost has been a success both here and in the US. So, like I say, there must be an awful lot of good natured folks in the world.

LOST is 'Gilligan's Island' gone serious.

Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

I guess the inclusion of Lost was a reference to series 1.

If you pop over to my blog you will see my opinion of series 2 (oh don't they love flashbacks!). In fact I missed an episode some weeks ago and haven't bothered since.

In short forgive me for not writing:

Lost (series 1 only).

Danny-K said...

Bit of late-night Sunday banter.

- Just come off messing about on a news blog site, (they're discussing the Mel Gibson drunken Jewish incident), and thought the blog I posted there might raise a smile here, assuming you all know by heart your movie-lines. Anyway, here it is:

August 6, 2006
09:43 PM
Mel Gibson has agreed to release the police-car tape of the Jewish incident. I've managed to see it ahead of its release. Due to copyright issues I only had time make some quick notes I took from the video clip, here are the notes to the best of my memory:

1st police Officer: Looks like a drunken driver up ahead, let's pull him over.

2nd Police Officer: (On approaching Mel Gibson), Driver's license and name please!

Mel Gibson: Sons of America! I am Mel Gibson.

1st Police Officer: But Mel Gibson is seven feet tall!

Mel Gibson: Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he'd consume the Jews with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse. I AM Mel Gibson! And I see a whole army of my country men, here, in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?

1st Police Officer: No, we'll RUN you in , and we'll LIVE to book another drunk.

Mel Gibson: Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and say: the Jews are the cause of all wars?

2nd Police Officer: No we wouldn't!

Mel Gibson: And neither would I - I was just having a drink and talking to myself.

1st Police Officer: Mr Gibson, sir, you're nicked!

Mel Gibson: Offisher,(hiccup), there must be shume mishtake. I'm noo Mel Gibson.... I'm William Wallace.

2nd Police Officer: He's nicked too then.

Mel Gibson: What! You wouldn't happen to be Jewish by any chance old chap would you?

Tape ends here.

And that's how it happened, folks!

Robin Kelly said...

I'm guilty of watching Big Brother and not the shows mentioned. I watched the first episodes but declined the opportunity to watch any more.

It's true BB has a built in audience but you're guaranteed good storytelling, good dialogue and lots of conflict and drama.

English Dave said...

You lasted longer than I did Robin. I never made it to the end of any of them.