Docs and cops dominate British TV drama. Aside from soaps, returning series tend to have medicine or crime-based precincts: hospitals and local health centres, or police stations and courthouses. ITV's been looking for a daytime drama it could strip across all five weekdays, something to challenge the success of Doctors on BBC1. The website for UK TV industry weekly Broadcast has just announced the winner: another medical drama.
ITV has ordered fifty episodes of The Royal Today from ITV Productions, which won the commission ahead of a dozen competing independent production companies. The 30-minute show will be made by ITV Yorkshire, which also produces Emmerdale, The Royal and Heartbeat. Like its progenitor, The Royal Today is set in St Aidan's Royal Free Hospital, but as a contemporary drama - not the late 1960s.
Just as docs and cops dominate British TV drama, clones and spin-offs are starting to dominate docs and cops shows. Medical drama Casualty begat medical drama Holby City, which is soon getting its own spin-off, cop drama Holby Blue. Casualty also begat historical medical drama Casualty 1906, which is getting a full series. Now historical medical drama The Royal is getting a modern spin-off, The Royal Today.
What next, you wonder? Perhaps The Bill 1947 , with the coppers of Sun Hill battling crime and black market spivs among the bombsites of post-war, ration-book East London? Perhaps a case from 1970s favourite Crown Court will accidentally cross time and reappear in contemporary Britain, flares and all? Better still, why not have the 1970s nurses of Angels swop places with the post-2000 nurses of No Angels and see who survives longest in the different eras?
Putting aside such frivolity, one question does arise from the commissioning of The Royal Today: will ITV mimic the BBC's decision to use Doctors as a proving ground for new writers? Dozens of untried scribes get their first broadcast credit on Doctors every year. Let's hope ITV is good enough to do the same with The Royal Today...