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Old 22-01-2013, 19:33
Steve Williams
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 6,649
You're overlooking the depth of the problems ITV drama had though. It wasn't simply an inability to successfully launch new drama it was that the brand went through a years long process of being contaminated by a slew of terrible shows. The reason people speak of revival or renaissance of ITV drama is because most (admittedly not all) of their new drama content is now at least watchable and often times much better than that. With the obvious exception of Eternal Law most of ITV's drama content of the past couple of years has ranged from good to excellent and its from that platform that you can build sustainable and returnable drama.
Hmm, I dunno. I thought The Town was a terrible disaster for ITV because it got critical acclaim and had some big stars and it got appalling ratings, and the sad thing is that it seems viewers just don't want to check out a new ITV drama. It reminds me of what happened with comedy, in Mark Lewisohn's Radio Times Comedy Guide there's an entry for Blind Men, a rather dull ITV sitcom from 1997, which points out that the first episode only got 5.7 million viewers, which I recall at the time was considered absolutely awful, and Lewisohn points out that the fact so few people turned in for the first episode illustrated the lack of faith the public had in ITV comedy.

I wonder if that's now the case for ITV drama, people just aren't tuning in for first episodes as they assume they won't be much good. Because people do still seem to be tuning into new BBC1 drama.

Certainly I can remember a time when ITV dominated drama and there were points when they had drama at 9pm seven days a week, to the extent the ITC even said there was probably too much of it at the expense of other genres. ITV argued that the range and popularity of ITV drama justified it and certainly they were often adventurous in those days - Cracker, Band of Gold, they were 9pm shows and hugely innovative and challenging for the time. Obviously those were the days when there was more of a captive audience but they were hugely successful shows even by the standard of the time.

The one thing ITV seriously need, and they've failed to come up with, is the kind of long-runing series they used to have like Peak Practice that can run for thirteen weeks a year every year. All of their big shows now seem to be star vehicles so you're inevitably at the whim of the stars as to when you can do them. I've surprised they still appear not to have found anything to replace The Bill. I guess there's Law and Order but that's about it. It can be a bit cynical coming up with these ensemble pieces but if they do it right they have incredible value. I mean Peak Practice went through about a hundred cast changes and was still doing alright when they axed it (though that's not always the case, Soldier Soldier completely died when the big names went).

ITV drama was in a bit of a poor state five years ago but you still had the likes of Lewis, Frost and so on, plus Heartbeat and The Bill as bankers in the schedule.

Another mostly strong night for BBC1. Obviously the noticeable story there is the seeming stupidity of having Bake-Off clash with Miranda. A move made more stupid by the fact that it could seemingly have been avoid by either delaying Bake-Off for a few weeks (do we really need a comic relief special this early in the year?) or just scheduling it at 8PM. That half hour junction was an odd place to put it.
But at 8pm you were going up against EastEnders and I'm sure the Beeb would be happier for Miranda to take that hit because they can repeat Miranda a million times. I think the Comic Relief aspect is a non-issue, it is just Celebrity Bake Off and if they have to tie it in with Comic Relief, so what? People will watch it because it's Bake Off.
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