Controller of BBC Drama, Ben Stephenson said it all earlier this week at a meeting to announce a range of new drama commissions for 2013-2014: “Drama and the BBC are inseparable – it is written through the BBC like a stick of rock. No other broadcaster in the world has drama so firmly in its DNA. Ultimately I can boil this down to one thing – I want to make the BBC the hallmark of quality drama and the automatic home for the best talent in the world”.
Call the Midwife was the highest rated drama on the BBC in over a decade when it premiered in 2012. The second to none (ok, except maybe Downton Abbey) series based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth is currently in the middle of its second series in the UK, transmitting to both critical acclaim and continued strong audience numbers. The second series will premiere in the States on Sunday, March 31 on PBS stations nationwide. For series 3, it’s 1959 and the country is on the eve of the ‘swinging Sixties’. The winds of change are sweeping through the country and the residents of Nonnatus House face some momentous changes of their own. The new series will be 8-parts and will, again, be written by Heidi Thomas.
Unfortunately, ‘…making the BBC the hallmark of quality drama‘ does not include the a 3rd seris of The Hour. The BBC pulled the plug on the one-hour drama about a 1950s BBC newsmagazine show. “We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through,” the BBC said in a statement. Even though the show was nominated for an Emmy and three Golden Globes last year, including Best Miniseries or Made For TV Movie, the audience figures for the most recent series fell of dramatically in the UK when compared to series one. Personally, I’m really sorry to see this one go. Whether it ultimately suffered under the inevitable comparison to Mad Men or not we’ll never know, but it was well-written, well-acted and beautifully shot. Based on the ending of series two, it’s obvious that there was never a notion that this would not see a third series. Sadly, it won’t and viewers will be left hanging forever.