Why Can’t Britain Make the Wire (Part 2)

In last Sunday’s Observer I looked at the collapse in standards in British TV drama. Why it is that a generation ago, intelligent Americans desperate for grown-up entertainment would turn to British series on Masterpiece Theatre,and now their British counterparts watch American shows? My explanation was that British television executives did not see themselves as failures. On the contrary, and from their point of view quite fairly, they boasted that they were still worldbeaters at producing successful formulas. Unfortunately their formulaic successes were downmarket quiz shows and talent competitions.
Carry on reading


6 thoughts on “Why Can’t Britain Make the Wire (Part 2)

  1. Giving the BBC’s money directly to the same few production houses in Soho that have the BBC over a barrel currently won’t improve the diversity of drama.

    We need more people *in the BBC* with the power to commission drama, and a change to the BBC’s charter to make sure that it can commission programs from outside the usual suspects.

    Also: “internal market”???

  2. He knows what he’s talking about. Though I would disagree with his thinking Dennis Potter wouldn’t have been able to write 12 or 13 episodes himself. I think he could have done it. One of the many things that frustrated Dennis Potter was the amount of episodes he could have, and I’m sure he said somewhere that he would’ve liked to have gone in to double figures with them.
    But Holby City, what a nightmare, imagine getting one of those notes from the processing plant asking whatever they wanted for the next day. Christ.
    Reread George Orwell’s piece about a book reviewer, and I wonder if that could also apply to a telly writer in Britain, nowadays.
    I’ve never watched the Soprano’s, is it about time I did?

  3. there’s surely a flipside to all of this. America makes some appalling TV and a lot of it comes over here and is very popular (see Desperate housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI Miami, Castle). Britain makes some great TV and a lot of it goes over there. The argument strikes me as very one-sided.

    And the wire ended a long, long time ago – the only decent US drama currently being made is True Blood, and even that really lost its way in the second series.

    Also, i know it’s sacrilege, but i thought the last 2 seasons of the wire were preachy, simplistic dreck.

  4. I’d also add that the supposed golden age of current US drama is a result of increased centralization of production and that much of the best drama is a product of HBO, the funding of which is closer to the BBC than to ITV.

    The BBC does need to change, but be careful that the changes don’t entrench the problem of risk-averse, cosy relationships with a few providers who have the corporation over a barrel.

  5. Jasmine, do you have facebook or hamotil account? I want to be your friend and your mother also. Please give me the opportunity to meet both of you, I am from Mexico.There are special people here in Mexico , but they are special not for their physical or mental condition, they are special because they teach us, every day and every moment how to live with out prejudices about others.

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