High profile figures in the world of television drama have spoken out over ITV’s decision to axe The Bill after 27 years on-air. They argue the cancellation of the series is a major blow to the drama genre and will damage the nurturing of new talent.
High profile figures in the world of television drama have spoken out over ITV’s decision to axe The Bill after 27 years on-air. They argue the cancellation of the series is a major blow to the drama genre and will damage the nurturing of new talent. John Yorke, controller of drama production at the BBC, is amongst those who has spoken out over The Bill’s cancellation – which ITV claim is due to low ratings following its revamp last year.
“Five years ago it was possible for talent to cut their teeth on Brookside, Dream Team, Family Affairs, Grange Hill,” he explains. “The last 10 years you’ve seen us move from continuing drama reigning supreme to a time where it’s had to accept reality and The X Factor – and realise that means we all have to work much harder. The loss of The Bill will have a dreadful effect on the ecosystem of drama. It leaves almost all of the training of new talent in the hands of the BBC through EastEnders, Holby and Casualty.” – John Yorke quoted on Media Guardian
Another high-profile figure to speak out over the demise of the series is Camilla Campbell, head of drama at Channel Four, who argues the lost of continuing drama’s such as The Bill will damage the rise of new talent within the industry. Campbell told Media Guardian “We have a new talent scheme but you can’t only have raw teenagers writing for Skins. You need expert script editors, producers, writers – and they have always come from continuing drama. If you didn’t have any of those shows, I don’t know how you’d get a job in television.”
With the cancelation of The Bill on ITV the only remaining continuing dramas are on the BBC: Holby City and Casualty. Although Shameless, Skins, Waking the Dead, Spooks and Hustle are returning drama snd so nurture new talent they do not air all year around and even Waking the Dead, Spooks and Hustle have been tipped by for the axe in the next BBC clear out of “established” drama’s. In the past few years ITV has also axed a string of returning dramas with the biggest belows coming with the “resting”, aka axe, of Heartbeat and The Royal. ITV also dropped Kingdom and Wire in the Blood and has struggled to find success with newer dramas.
Although Doc Martin and Wild at Heart have proved popular with audiences newer shows such as Monday Monday and Single, Married, Other failed to take off in terms of ratings. Even established drama’s such as Poirot and Miss Marple have seen ratings plunge. Last night’s return of Foyle’s War, which like Primeval was revived by ITV following the axe, also saw lower ratings than previous season openers – leaving drama on ITV1 looking decidely vunerable.
ITV have pledged the money spent currently on The Bill will be reinvested in new drama with a medical drama and new detective series already commissioned by the broadcaster. However, whether these new drama’s prove success or not remains to be seen – ITV’s track record to date with shows doesn’t excatly spark confidence. After all Harley Street, Echo Beach, Britannia High, The Whistleblower, The Royal Today, The Fixer and The Palace all flopped.
A campaign to save The Bill has been launched by fans and you can join it by clicking here >>