TV scribe warns Brit broadcasters to broaden vision

Paul Abbott calls for larger series orders

EDINBURGH -- "Shameless" scribe Paul Abbott warned Saturday that British broadcasters were not taking enough risk with drama and failing to commission enough long-running series.

Abbott, who is working with "West Wing" writer/producerJohn Wells on a version of the show for NBC, said there was a "glaring problem" facing British broadcasters.

"It is high time we saw British television's vision for long-running drama," he told an audience, delivering the Alternative MacTaggart lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival -- a forum that allows for radical perspectives on the broadcasting business.

British broadcasters traditionally commission between three and six episodes in a run, but Abbott said it that quality would be improved by commissioning runs of up to 26 episodes which would bring down the per-episode cost of the show.

"I think drama is too expensive, I'm not meant to say that, but we have shot ourselves in the foot by letting it [costs] go through the roof. We can't afford it at that level, it has to come down."

Abbott told a packed house that while Brits excelled at long-running soaps like "Holby City" and "EastEnders" they were "addicted to a really damaging level of safety valve now, especially in recent years."

"Shameless," the tragic-comic family saga of a working-class North of England family, has been on Channel 4 for eight years. The broadcaster recently commissioned a run of 22 episodes.
comments powered by Disqus