Mainstream channels and titles prove ready to adapt to future

There’s something very reassuring about the quality and breadth of the winners of the Broadcast Awards 2018.

Traditional broadcasters and global digital services rub shoulders, while established favourites share the spoils with emerging titles. No one has the monopoly on fantastic programming.

For Dave’s Taskmaster to edge out the likes of Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity… as Best Entertainment Programme is testament to the power of a slow-burn hit.

Honed as a live show for several years, it has elbowed its way into the public consciousness despite being on a ‘smaller’ channel. Dave’s bigger rivals are now privately talking about finding shows that can replicate its amazing alchemy.

Best Multichannel Programme winner Love Island was one of the shows of the year. The ITV2 series proved that young people will still fl ock to TV in their droves, and that a stripped linear broadcast can be a powerful tool in an on-demand world. Expect a plethora of copycat formats in the short term.

These awards also restate the impact of Netflix on the UK industry.

The San Junipero episode of House of Tomorrow’s Black Mirror deservedly triumphed in the Best Single Drama category, and while Left Bank’s The Crown was beaten to Best Drama Series by BBC1’s Three Girls, the transformative commission for Andy Harries’ drama indie was a key factor in it landing Best Independent Production Company.

In many ways, The Crown has come to stand for the scale of the opportunity that the SVoD revolution presents to British producers. Having said that, BBC1, the UK’s original broadcaster, landed Channel of the Year.

With no Bake Off, no The Voice UK, a sixth episode of Coronation Street to contend with on ITV and not a World Cup or Olympics in sight, it could have been a very difficult year for the channel. But Planet Earth II rewrote the rules for natural history, while The Moorside and Three Girls did the same for real-life drama.

The former found viral success, and proved again that long-established genres can connect powerfully with young viewers, while the latter two projects tackled tough social issues with impeccable tone and craft.

And with so much excellent content being generated by new players, the emotional power of Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum & Dad and the joie de vivre of Danny Dyer’s episode of Who Do You Think You? are proof that mainstream telly, perfectly executed, still has few peers.

If the industry can continue to celebrate the traditional and embrace the future at the same time, it will be in good health.

Chris curtis

Chris Curtis is the editor of Broadcast