Michael Grade announced today that ITV are specifically looking for long running series.
To wit, “series that are on 14, 15, 16 weeks a year, on every year for three, four or five years”.
This is interesting because this is the first ITV move towards the new UK commissioning model of longer-term returning series. This brings it into alignment with cable commissioning in the US – and I’ve posted before about why 13 weeks is a nice number to have financially.
(Interestingly, Bill Cunningham thinks that the six-part model is ripe for revival, as part of a low-cost D2DVD market – take a look at this DMc post and the comments for a quick discussion. But I’m with Jane Featherstone – the path to profit for a UK indie is in TV sales, and six episodes a season just doesn’t cut it.)
Will the new UK standard force a shift to a writers’ room model? At the moment, the showrun shows (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Robin Hood) use a model with a head writer commissioning, creating the overall story arc, and (sometimes) rewriting scripts. The main proponent I’m aware of for this writing style in the US is David Shore.
What we’re not doing yet is breaking stories in the room. And that’s where the heavy lifting goes on in most US shows.
But mainly, the question is this: Will we have a writer in charge of the new breed of shows at ITV?
If so, then this may be the beginning of the end for the old UK model.