Drowning in soap

Friday, April 28, 2006 by

So the BBC has announced that there is going to be a spin-off from a spin-off to Casualty.

A new police show is to be created that will tie-in closely with the goings-on at Holby City, headed by well-known soap writer Tony Jordan. Given that Holby City itself barely ties in with Casualty at the moment you have to wonder just how closely the two shows will be related (although the new show will most likely be made in London like Holby City is – unlike Casualty which is shot in Bristol – so the potential for tying stories together will probably be greater). The BBC will be hoping that the link with Holby City will ensure that the as yet nameless series lasts a little longer than the short-lived pair City Central and Mersey Beat.

Apparently part of the reasoning behind this development is the new plan of the BBC to make more shows in a familiar mould, and to run them for longer. Mark Thompson revealed the grand plan in his Royal Television Society Fleming Memorial Lecture the other day. In effect, what this is likely to result in is a further “soapification” of the schedules with the same types of programme on all year-round, although he does concede that “we will still find places to nurture one-off events and signature dramas”.

Thompson claims that what the BBC intends to do is give the viewers more of what they love best “like EastEndersCasualtyHolby City.” Perhaps he fails to realise that the reason the public “love! these shows best is because they are currently on so regularly? There isn’t a great deal of other stuff to watch on the two main channels. Holby City is now in its eighth series apparently, despite being on for 52 weeks of the year – how do they work that out? Do we really need even more of the same? The BBC should be making more shows that are a step away from the everyday humdrum problems faced in police stations and hospitals to ensure that there is a variety of drama for the public: SpooksHustle and Doctor Who have all succeeded admirably in this respect. Plenty of people like their fix of soap, but conversely, plenty of people don’t. The other week Doctor Who was the highest-rated non-soap programme on BBC1.

Holby appears to be becoming the CSI of British television with a proliferation of spin-offs. To complete the set all that we need next is a Holby series set in a fire station. Oh, then one set in a lifeboat station. And one set in a school. And one set in a supermarket… etc, etc…


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