Sunday, March 20, 2016

Drama drama

The current ratings success of various BBC dramas, culminating in tonight's Night Manager finale, has re-ignited arguments about who's monstering whom in the market place. BBC DG Lord Hall tells The Telegraph that the BBC can't possibly take on Amazon and Netflix for blockbuster drama; “We have to think differently. We have to think like Drake’s ships. We’ve got to think lighter, simpler.”

Meanwhile ITV says Lord Hall has lavished cash on middle-class appeal drama at the expense of more difficult genres, and  "a combination of significantly increasing volumes of BBC One drama and aggressive scheduling are substantially reducing the broadcast return ITV can make, even on successful drama."

According to BARB, drama (soaps, series, and single dramas) accounted for 19.06% of all viewing in February; that's the highest share for the genre since their online records started in May 2014, when the figures stood at 16.77%. Given the general decline in the appeal of soaps, series are driving the increase - whether they be home-made, transatlantic collaborations or Scandawegian.

Lord Hall dangerously uses the National Trust in his conversation with the Telegraph;“I think the reason we’re doing well at the moment is that people see quality and they want quality. I used to love the National Trust poster from some years ago that said, ‘Time well spent’. In an era when time is precious, people want quality, and that’s what we’re delivering.”

The National Trust, thank you very much, does enormously well out of subscriptions and legacies, and we don't want that for the BBC, do we ? One suspects there's a reasonable correlation between NT membership and viewers of Call The Midwife, Poldark, Countryfile, Great British Bake-Off and Strictly. Equally, ITV breaks through with Downtown, Doc Martin, Grantchester and, slowly, Julia Bradbury's Walks.

Let's move the debate into fresh ground - contemporary music, new comedy, satire, polemical drama - anyone seen any of that recently ?


  1. I thought the finale was next week.

    Wishing your life away...

  2. The Night Manager peaks too early


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