Danny Cohen wants longer running dramas

Danny CohenBBC One’s new controller Danny Cohen has revealed he would like to see longer running dramas on the channel more akin to the length of dramas in America.

In the UK the average length of a drama season is between 6 to 8 episodes with notable exceptions being Doctor Who and Merlin both of which have 13 episodes per season. In America though the average length of a season is usually around 22 episodes although occasionally some dramas will run to 24 episodes per season. Danny Cohen has said it would be “very nice” to have dramas on BBC One run for longer each year but has admitted that’s unlikely to happen for some time.

“If you could do it, it would be something to aspire to,. We’re not brilliantly set up as an industry in the UK to do it in the way the American industry is, with more of a team writing model. So there’s some quite big structural changes that we’d have to make to deliver that, but you can’t force creatives into it very easily.” – Danny Cohen speaking to a Broadcasting Press Guild event

BBC One’s school drama Waterloo Road has since its third series in 2007 aired 20 episodes per season making it one of the few long-running dramas (season wise) on British television. Channel Four drama Waterloo RoadShameless has also gradually increased the number of episodes it airs per year since 2008 when it aired 16 episodes for its fifth season with subsequent seasons also airing for 16 seasons. Shameless‘ creator Paul Abbott has previously argued for the need for the UK drama industry to produce series on par with American seasons.

However, as Cohen stated in the above quote UK dramas, on the whole, tend to be written by one or two writers per episode. American dramas tend, on the whole, to work on a “team writing” basis with only the occasional episode penned by one specific writer.

Would you want to see UK dramas airing up to 22 episodes per year ala American shows or do you think it would compromise the quality of dramas? Post your comments below.