Having enjoyed the first series of Life on Mars via the magic of DVD, the John Sim season of televisual entertainment has been extended by now watching State of Play. This six-parter by Paul Abbott was first broadbast on BBC 1 in 2003, but sadly passed me by at the time. Still, I've heard several students raving about it on my MA Screenwriting course, so decided to give the series a whirl. Bloody hell, it's good, isn't it? Not just gripping, but funny, intelligent and really makes you care about the characters. I've not convinced by John Sim's facial hair [he said, the pot calling the kettle black], but that's the only thing that jays in this TV drama masterpiece.
However, it raises an obvious question: why are so few TV dramas based in the world of newspapers? Cops and docs are the default setting for more TV drama, or variations thereupon. Some sad sod recently counted all the different medical dramas on British television in a week - 14 of them. From the cops side of the coin you also get all the legal dramas, such as New Street Law. You even get cross-polination: nostalgic cop show Heartbeat begat nostalgic medical show The Royal; Casualty and Holby City are getting their own law enforcement spin-off.
It's probably my background in daily newspaper journalism, but I've always felt there was a good TV drama to be had from the world of scoops and hacks. Lou Grant did this on US TV in the late 70s and early 80s, but there's surprisingly few other examples I can recall. The Standard was a short-lived series set in a Scottish newspaper, broadcast around the same time. Other than that, I'm struggling to think of any other obvious examples.
TV execs want settings and characters that can generate dozens, even hundreds of storylines full of conflict and drama. That's exactly what journalists are looking for, it's the nature of their job. Then there's the back-stabbing, tooth-and-claw competition for a story between hacks; the frustration of being deemed of secondary importance to TV and radio journalists; the rising challenge of online journalism; the long hours, stress and dubious personalities of those who work in papers. Sounds like strong material to me, but maybe I'm biased.
Anyway, can anybody recall other examples of TV dramas set in the newspaper world?