British Television Needs to Grow Up


I think we have a crisis of creativity in the British television industry and I blame this crisis on Eastenders, Coronation Street, The Only Way is Essex… honestly this list could go on. We produce, and to my disbelief, watch a lot of crap television. It gets frustrating when you look to the other side of the pond and you see them producing game changing TV series after game changing TV series.

Why on earth can’t we make our own shows like The Sopranos, or The Wire, or Sex and the City, or Breaking Bad? Don’t get me wrong, we have some shows that could stand on their own two feet on a world stage such as as Doctor Who and Downton Abbey. We have also had a few surprise gems the past couple of years, such as Broadchurch and The Honourable Woman, but I am not confident that these will usher in a new age of UK television.

My despair at the state of UK television has hit a new low after I sat down to watch the Scandinavian sensations The Bridge and The Killing. Sometime during this mammoth watching period it hit me that we don’t produce anything that comes close to either of these programmes and I don’t think we’ve ever done so. Honestly, the Scandinavians make better television that we do.  The Poirot series was dope and I genuinely enjoyed Inspector Morse when it was on, but this murder-an-episode format says a lot about the way we watch television as a country – it is all very disposable.

There are probably smarter people than I who have done research into this and have found that we Brits don’t like our crime dramas too moody, or gritty, or realistic, or scary – and we definitely don’t ever want the bad guy to get away with it. But I say pooey to all of that – I want to watch something that makes me question my values and the British way of life. I want a show that leaves me pondering its themes long after the final season has aired.

Television is a very powerful tool and it can do more than tell me what is going on in the Queen Victoria pub in a fictional part of London. I think its about time we start demanding more from our television shows.


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