Thursday, October 12, 2006

ITV needs escapist and family teatime dramas

The new issue of Broadcast has a fascinating article about UK broadcaster ITV. It transmits more than 1000 shows but has nine particular shows or broadcast slots that are considered the crown jewels: daytime magazine programmes This Morning and The Jeremy Kyle Show; serials Coronation Street, Emmerdale and The Bill; weeknights from 9-10pm; the news at 10.30pm; and Saturday nights from 6-9.30 pm.

Of particular interest to wannabe scribes like me are the weeknight slot from 9-10pm, where a lot of returning dramas are broadcast; and Saturday nights. The latter has seen a massive revival in the fortunes of light entertainment shows like The X Factor on ITV and Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1. But the BBC has also recreated the concept of family teatime drama with the success of Doctor Who. It's now trying to expand that success from 13 weeks of the year to 52, beginning with the new versin of Robin Hood. Thus far ITV is running to catch up, though it is prepping a sci-fi teatime drama in Primeval. But there's one opportunity for a new TV drama.

The other big opening is weeknights from 9-10pm, it seems. In the 1990s ITV ruled this slot, thanks for shows like Soldier Soldier and, more recently, the trash TV delights of Bad Girls and Footballers' Wives. But the channel got outflanked by the BBC's alliance with indies like Kudos, broadcasting slick escapist fare such as Hustle and Life on Mars. ITV let it best shows in this slot get old and failed to find replacements for them. So there's another glaring opportunity.

Of course, even if you do get a drama series commissioned for that slot, there's no guarantees of success. Recent candidate Jane Hall apparently sat on a shelf for months [even years, according to some reports] waiting to be broadcast. ITV give The Outsiders a 90 minute pilot, broadcast last week. Reading the script by Caleb Ranson, I can see exactly what it was trying to achieve. Just wish I had a copy of the whole show - it'd make a fascinating case study for my screenwriting course!

1 comment:

English Dave said...

Jane Hall waited two years for an airing. Was it worth it? I don't know, I lasted half an episode.

Pop quiz
Name three famous Exec producers you see in trails and think 'Oh yeah, I'll watch that.

Name 3 famous TV writers and ask the same question.

Bonus question

So how come the Exec producer tells the writer what to do?

Good TV is generally made DESPITE Execs. Save for the good one who fights for the writer.