Peter Jukes wrote about difficulties faced by British television writers in the recent issue of Prospect magazine.
“… Although America dominated postwar television drama from Bonanza to Dallas and Dynasty, Britain had a healthy export trade. Till Death us Do Part was transformed into All in the Family, and Monty Python changed US comedy. But our most important impact was not in quantity but quality. Epic historical series such as Jewel in the Crown or experimental melodramas such as Pennies from Heaven set a benchmark for US writers and producers.
“But something has happened in the last ten to 15 years. In 1994, I wrote a tribute to Dennis Potter in the New Statesman about the decline of the single authored play on British television. The most obvious cause of this decline was the concentration of commissioning into a few hands. Despite the growth of the independent sector, just four men decided what millions would watch. The difference between 1994 and 2008 is startling. Instead of being the responsibility of four network controllers, most drama is now commissioned by one person….”
Elsewhere in Prospect, Kabir Chibber interviewed showrunner David Simon (The Wire, Generation Kill, Treme).
(h/t — Shawn Ryan)