Switch on the Best Television; BROADCASTING: American Ownership of British Companies Would Be Welcome

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 7, 2002 | Go to article overview

Switch on the Best Television; BROADCASTING: American Ownership of British Companies Would Be Welcome


Byline: HANNAH JONES Arts and Media Editor

WHO says that Britain has the best television in the world?

We might have EastEnders, regional broadcasting hours and good old Auntie. But what we don't have is the staying power of the greatest shows on earth.

These are made in America and the wisdom of the Communications Bill lifts any residual obstacle to American companies owning ITV.

The question now is: would this be a total disaster?

Once upon a time British television was able to boast the best writers, actors and directors in the world.

Now all we have is smugness. There are some of us who just ``don't get'' American sitcoms, the humour and the way everybody is referred to as ``you guys''.

But there are few of us who have been able to resist forming a deep bond disguised as a weekly attachment to at least one of the following dramas.

In the '80s it was Hill Street Blues and St Elsewhere, LA Law and Moonlighting. Fast forward to the '90s and our eyes were peeled to thirtysomething, ER and the now (e)X-Files.

Currently we have The West Wing, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.

Emotionally and intellectually, these programmes provide us with all we need from television drama, despite the abundance of group hugs and American accents.

When they have a mind, BBC1 and ITV1 can pour much needed cash into their dramas and they can often look as good as their US counterparts.

Spooks, for example, enjoyed massive success on BBC 1.

It goes without saying that a media machine that pours out such acting gems as David Jason and Julie Walters delivering verbal arias on the small screen along with golden series such as Cold Feet and Linda Green is not incapable of matching the ideas that come out of America.

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