The doctor is still in

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 by

As David Butler and Bob McKenzie used to constantly mention, predictions are a tough business. That’s certainly my excuse for my post a month ago where I suggested ITV1′s current repeat run of Doc Martin would be inelegantly pulled from the schedules before the end. Four weeks on, not only is it still there, but the ratings are actually going up!

Martin Clunes and Caroline CatzMuch of this is probably thanks to viewers getting bored of Bonekickers, but in a desperate attempt to justify my original post, I think it’s incredible that one of the week’s top performers at 9pm on ITV1 is a repeat. In fact the only other success in that slot appears to be the repeats of A Touch of Frost on Fridays, which is the only weekday when they’re continually beating the Beeb at 9pm. You have to go back to before Euro 2008 before you can find ITV winning that slot on any other weeknight.

Probably the biggest flop there recently has been Harley Street which debuted last week with a paltry 3.9 million viewers, being thrashed by cheap BBC1 filler On The Fiddle. That’s remarkable given the first episode of Bonekickers on BBC1 the week before garnered 6.8 million viewers. Alright, so the ratings for that are plummeting, but surely a medical drama stuffed with former soap stars you recognise would be an easier thing to sell than a drama about archaeologists starring a cast who, although all fine actors, are hardly household names.

It looks as if people have stopped trusting ITV1 to produce new drama. None of their new series this year have been much of a hit and the only shows guaranteed a big audience are old favourites like Midsomer Murders and, yes, Doc Martin. Where are the equivalents of New Tricks on ITV1 these days? From the channel that brought you Minder and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, that’s amazing.


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