Monday, December 04, 2006

The Angry Indignation Dollar

Apropos of my last blog I've just come across this great post in Jim Henshaw's

Listen to the Bill Hick's rant. It's a hoot. Then read the post. Cutting and incisive.

And it kind of ties in with my 'Least Attentive Viewer' post. Because to marketing men [because they know no better] making a programme accessable to the least attentive viewer means a bigger audience so bigger bucks.

From the quality of programming at the networks, especially ITV of late I suspect the bigwigs are more about marketing than programming. Not realising that you can't polish a turd.

Perhaps Michael Grade will make a difference. He's a TV man through and through. I don't think, like the previous head of ITV, he'll be bleating about a loss in advertising revenue [which is linked to ratings by a formula]. Ratings are going down because you are making crap, dummy! Where's your next job mate? Manager of Charlton Athletic? Captain of the Titanic?

I'm sure Michael Grade will do a hell of a better job but if he is going to turn ITV around he needs to give a clear signal to network centre, prodcos and writers what kind of programming he is actually looking for.

I posted before about what they recently said they were looking for. Ground breaking talked about drama. Apart from the obvious 'isn't everyone', does anyone know what the hell that is? I mean really? Big budget? Low budget? Genres? Target audience? I could write about a man with a talking testicle. Or that thing with Martin Clunes about a testicle with a talking man. Same difference. But at least my talking testicle might get a laugh in between the mournful dirges, pointless stories, boring premises, and overwrought melodrama that the networks seem to be filling our screens with. And make no mistake. It is their fault. They give the signals to the prodcos and the prodcos respond and commission accordingly.

People having difficulties conceiving children? So what? A gang of postmen at a sorting office have a few problems? So what? A female bus driver has love life difficulties? So what? And on and on and on.

They talk about getting the 16-35 age group back to TV. Here's a few clues for you network bods and marketing men -

Keep soap in soap operas. If that age group wants to see soap they'll make an appointment at that time. Outside of that appointment they are not interested.

If you want that age group to commit to something, then give them something they want to commit to. Don't just throw shit at the wall and hope some of it sticks.

Make them want to watch with high concept ideas well trailed [high concept is not a dirty word by the way] and then deliver on the promise.

It ain't rocket science.


Robin Kelly said...

There was an interview with Laurie Mackie where they said they wanted the reputational event stuff and the one hour 9pm things.

They want sophisticated, smarter series - something like Spooks, Hustle, Cutting It and Life on Mars but they don't want copycat programming. "We want some of what those shows deliver, but on their own original terms - series with an aspirational feel, aimed at a slightly younger audience, that don't alienate your heartland drama viewers."

They wouldn't mind lower-cost stuff like Shameless or Bodies as they want to stretch the drama budget and those shows are good and reputational.

English Dave said...

Sounds like much the same fluff they gave to agents a few weeks ago.

Some one should point out that a show only becomes 'reputational' if it is good and isn't taken off the air after one series, like 'Outlaws' 'North Square' and a few others.

You know what one of my agent [Female] said to me at lunch yesterday? There are too many women in commissioning positions.

I'm sure she wasn't being sexist. Just saying there should be a bit more balance. Whether that would make a difference to the types of shows being commissioned who can say?

I didn't notice much difference when Nick Elliot was at netwoek centre so I have my doubts. But it is food for thought.

Riddley Walker said...

Do you mind if I just say...

"Hear fucking hear!"

English Dave said...

Thank you Ridley. Though IO must confess I don't personally think male/female has a lot to do with it. I think the networks have been in a 5 year malaise where too often what they consider drama is cheaply made, low concept soap-a-like. That's why what I condider to be 'quite good/okay' shows like Robin Hood, Doctor Who and Life On Mars are being held up as fantastic by the powers that be.

But in truth are any of them 'must see'? The best of the bunch perhaps. I'm a Celebrity still beats the crap out of them ratings wise.

It's a simple fact. More women are happy to watch James Bond or a Vampire movie or an action thriller or a detective series than men are happy to watch soaps or disease of the week or emotional love triangle. And as debbie said, demographics are misleading.

Maybe more women that men do watch peak time TV. But could that be because men have been driven away by the steady diet of mulch on offer?