Tuesday, 27 December 2016

No second series for Merrily Watkins?

It's tough out there.

Many readers will be familiar with the novels of Phil Rickman -- many of which are not actually set in Wales but in the Welsh borders.  So, they are almost Welsh stories.  Among the most popular of his books are the Merrily Watkins stories, dark and aften gruesome, featuring an interesting female vicar who is also an exorcist.  In 2015 ITV broadcast a mini-series of 3 episodes, which received great acclaim.   There were some excellent reviews, including this one:
‘Midwinter of the Spirit has been excellent…. it should return – there are 12 more Phil Rickman novels to choose from.’

This is from Phil's web site:

So what went wrong…?
The three-part Midwinter of the Spirit was originally made for the quality-drama channel, ITV Encore. However, it was suddenly and unexpectedly plucked out of the Encore schedule to replace the far more expensive, all-star six-parter, Unforgotten, in a peak-hour slot on ITV One..

How odd. Could it have been because they’d recognised its obvious merits… or because the more expendable Midwinter would thus go up against Episode 3 of what would be the year’s most successful (10 million viewers) BBC drama, Doctor Foster, saving the costly Unforgotten from the embarrassing possibility of, er, being rapidly forgotten.?

It was no great surprise to anybody when, with the huge Foster viewing figures already well established, most viewers chose to record Midwinter instead, apparently setting what looked like a new high for UK recording of a particular drama. Unfortunately, a recording counts for nothing in the ratings – especially on ITV, where it means viewers are able to skip the ads.

So the critically-acclaimed Midwinter was, as expected, proclaimed a flop by ITV executives, who told the media that it ‘hadn’t worked’, while the rescued Unforgotten (‘Hard to love’ – Daily Telegraph, ‘dodgy dialogue… painful looping slowness’ – Guardian, ‘unsatisfactory… played a series of shabby tricks’ – Daily Mail) has gone on to a second series.

Welcome to the pragmatic world of peak-hour television.

No comments: