January 24th, 2009 at 04:25pm
Some sad news from Britain. Budget cuts at ITV have forced the halving of the number of episodes to be produced of The Bill.
Later this year, ITV will move the show from its twice-weekly 8pm timeslot to a once-weekly 9pm timeslot, something which they claim will allow the show to become “grittier and more action-packed”.
The reasoning behind the halving of production appears to be entirely financial, as the show is a solid performer for ITV, albeit with too many regular cast members to fit in to any given episode, winning the ratings in its timeslot week after week, averaging around 5 million viewers. It is also a fairly solid performer for the ABC here in Australia, with the two episodes being shown back-to-back on a Saturday night rating well for ABC1. Last Saturday, The Bill was the 7th most watched show with 686,000 viewers in Sydney, bumping the ABC ahead of Seven in to third place for the night.
An ITV source for Britain’s Sun newspaper claims that the cut in production will result in some redundancies, although what that means for cast is still unclear. “Mass exit” storylines such as another station fire (like the one which killed six characters in 2002 and the one which killed three characters in 2005) have been ruled out.
ITV insist that the per-episode budget will be increased, which will probably be a good thing considering some of the dodgy editing which has been apparent in episodes to air on ABC1 in recent weeks (especially the botched noise reduction in one of the interview scenes which made everyone sound like they were talking through a decaying pillow), although I am concerned about the increase in “edgy” and “dramatic” content which the 9pm timeslot will apparently allow ITV to screen…I can only hope that ITV don’t intend on returning The Bill to the soap opera formula they used earlier this decade when Paul Marquess was producing the show.
At this stage it is unclear what the ABC will do when ITV halve production. The most likely thing for them to do will be to keep running dual Saturday night episodes until they reach the episodes which ITV will screen at a rate of one per week (theoretically this should happen towards the end of the year) and then start screening only one episode each Saturday, although it would be nice if the ABC would keep screening dual episodes until sometime early next year when they would only be a few weeks behind ITV rather than a few months.
Regardless of what happens, all I can really hope for is that the show’s quality doesn’t suffer, as it has been doing very well (for the most part) lately, and a drop in quality would be a shame for a show with a proud 25-year history like The Bill.
Entry Filed under: TV/Radio/Media