Despite the challenges, there is much to look forward to in 2020
Perhaps I’m looking for reasons to be cheerful in dark political times, but as 2019 comes to an end, I’m feeling upbeat about the industry’s prospects.
For too long, our narrative has been one of anxiety – that Netflix et al are coming over the hill to eat British TV’s lunch. Yes, there is more competition for eyeballs than ever before, but the creativity and ingenuity on offer this year has proved reassuring.
“Of course, the streamers can and will get more local and more British, but they are battling the traditional broadcasters on familiar territory”
I loved Ryan Murphy’s The Politician on Netflix, but it is genuinely British content that resonates most readily with domestic audiences – and all the SVoD dollars in the world aren’t going to change that.
Of course, the streamers can and will get more local and more British, but they are battling the traditional broadcasters on familiar territory not just ordering shows over and above them.
These kind of shows seldom chime with the industry’s chattering classes but resonate massively with viewers, and there have been plenty of other domestic highlights too. BBC2 and BBC Studios managed to imbue Top Gear with the spirit of Lazarus, rejuvenating a format I was convinced was dying if not quite dead.
Channel 5 is upping its game on talent, edging into scripted and going toe-to-toe with Channel 4 and BBC2. And wherever you stand on the brewing row between Sky and ITV, there’s no denying that the former has become a force in original British content.
Further afield, shows with British sensibilities and creative teams, such as Succession and Killing Eve, have found huge success overseas and as acquisitions back in the UK. And it might not be very fashionable to say so, but I’m looking forward to Gavin & Stacey’s Christmas Day return too.
I realise this sounds hopelessly naïve, but let’s not talk down the industry in 2020. There will be ad market wobbles, PSB reviews to contend with and new streamers launching on an almost weekly basis. But let’s shun schadenfreude and remember what a privilege it is to create shows in such a vibrant market.
The industry has plenty to be grateful for this Christmas.
■ Next week, we are concluding our 60th anniversary celebrations with a B60 Show That Shaped Me special, pulling together reminiscences about the industry’s favourite programmes.
Our online coverage will continue at broadcastnow.co.uk through to Christmas Eve, and recommence on Thursday 2 January. Have a fantastic Christmas.
- Chris Curtis is the editor in chief of Broadcast