What has happened to British television?
Here is a mini-rant I had on twitter a few minutes ago:
Started watching I am legend, wasn’t really in the mood for it. Watching studio sixty on the sunset strip now.
I wish we had a program like studio sixty on British tv. Both the real and the fictional one.
Also, I wanna watch the west wing episode where bartlett destroys the radio dj who wouldn’t stand up…
That said, I wish we had a UK version of the west wing. Closest we have is the thick of it, I guess, which isn’t really the same.
And yes, minister I suppose, back in the day. It seems we can only do political satire, not drama.
Spooks, I am told, was a good British drama. It seems good British programming only comes from the beeb.
And channel 4 occasionally. Otherwise its just American imports.
At this point, I decided to get out of bed and write a blog post; this won’t be a long one (as its 1:20am) but I really wanted to write now, while the thoughts were still fresh in my head.
Television is something that has grown in importance to me while I’ve been at university. Granted, most of the television I watch is through DVD boxsets, personal favourites of mine being Studio 60, The West Wing, Band of Brothers, Life On Mars, Ashes to Ashes and Arrested Development. I have also recently started watching Mad Men, the Pacific and the Sopranos.
I think the important thing to notice here is that these shows are either American, or from the BBC. The American television scene, to an outsider such as myself, seems to be pretty much like its movie scene – big budget block busters like the West Wing rule over there – drama is their forte.
Over here, however, there seems to be a distinct lack of good drama – the BBC has produced some exceptional dramas (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Spooks etc.) on far less of a budget as their American counterparts. The BBC survives off the license fees, so it must take immense talent to create television like that on a comparative shoe string budget.
Then why can’t the likes of ITV, Channel 4 etc. create the same standard of television, or rather why can’t other companies produce that kind of television for them. The Inbetweeners was great on Four, but Friday Night Dinner never really hit the right note for me, and Campus debuted tonight to fairly disappointing reviews (according to twitter).
Either way, these aren’t dramas!! In my (vastly uneducated in this area) opinion, drama is the life blood of television. I hope that British television makers step away from dodgey comedies, soaps and reality tv and move back towards dramas. Until then, I shall rely on the BBC and America.
Below is the opening to the first episode of Studio 60, where the then producer breaks into his own show to complain about the state of television in America, it kind of sums up how I feel. Enjoy, and check out the series if you ever get the chance.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – Opening Speech