Just re-iterating what Paul Abbott (Shameless, Cracker) said recently (and what I’ve been saying for about 6 years) about the state of British TV, Ricky Gervais has rounded on British drama and comedy as well. In this article Karl Pilkington’s mate goes on to say..
The star said standards for comedy writers in the US are higher. “They’re ambitious, they’re good, they’re funny,” he commented. “They do stand-up, and by the time they’re 31 they’ve got their own sitcom because they’re good.
“You don’t see many 40-year-old hack writers in America. They get fired if they’re no good. It’s like natural selection.”
Even worse, though, are our dramas, says Gervais. “The Sopranos, 24, CSI, The Wire, bang! We’ve got nothing like that. Nothing!” he declared. “It’s such a big gap.
“Comparing our celebrities to America is like comparing Blackpool to Las Vegas. It’s division two.”
While Gervais has overstated the point that all US drama is good and all UK drama is bad (which is not the case in my opninion) his points about ambition and natural selection are valid ones. There is no competition in the Uk, you either work for the state or for the one advertising channel that can pay you enough. and the height of ambition isn’t to be the top of your craft and write the greatest story ever told, its to write or star in a one-off drama on ITV1. Paul Abbott had this to say late last year while picking up three RTS awards:
The writer of hit series Shameless has said TV drama is “under-ambitious, predictable and needlessly boring”.
Paul Abbott criticised Footballers’ Wives for “regressing to lower standards” while praising US show Lost for setting “a new benchmark”.
He told the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge convention: “We need more drama that shows a world we don’t know, to take us places we’ve never been.”
The bottom line is this. Innovation is needed and should be respected, not be laughed out of the boardroom. If anybody (you don’t have to be a writer) has a killer idea for a drama or a comedy (not a sketch show, unless its better than “The Fast Show”) now is the time! Send your ideas to me, and I wil ltake care of the rest and cut you in 5%. I’m kidding, send them to the BBC. Lets get the crap off our screens. If you don’t care about what you watch, prepare for a future where every show in the UK has a number to call to eliminate someone (even the news!) and the only product we export is Simon Cowell’s television formats. Peace.