TELEVISION DRAMATelevision drama is the most expensive form of television, with a prime timeAmerican TV series such as House costing up to $12 million per hour – that’s about £6million. The average cost for US drama is more like $2 – 5 million per hour. Britishdrama such as Dr Who (60 mins) costs about a £1 million per hour.In fact a US broadcast hour is only a maximum of 52 minutes of drama. Some USbroadcasting networks only broadcast 44 minutes of actual drama in an hour that means16 minutes of advertising. For details of the cost of BBC drama see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/commissioning/tv/business/tariffs.shtml Discuss...The BBCs controller of fiction Jane Tranter says it is TV drama that now "gives ourlives meaning and shape" rather than literature. DiscussDrama is the form of television which attracts the largest regular audiences. Big sportingoccasions can attract larger audiences – the Nadal/ Federer Wimbledon final 2008attracted over 13 million viewers – but drama pulls them in regularly, and this is whatchannel bosses and advertisers like. Television channels – especially E4 and BBC3 aretargeting young audiences with edgy, modern dramas such as Skins.http://www.e4.com/skins/ Genre The codes and conventions of different types of TV Drama:The Serial – continuing narrative over a limited number of linked programmes with anover arching narrative. It the much the same cast, such as Footballers’ Wives, and acliffhanger at the end of each episode. Closure is only achieved at the end of the run.Typically made in 13 episodes – a quarter of a year. Examples include State of Play andRome.Soaps – an ongoing, multi-stranded television serial drama, typically set in an enclosedlocation such as Albert Square in Eastenders, Coronation Street, or Emmerdale, with alarge cast of central characters and arching story lines. The soap is an everlasting serial.The Series - linked programmes with the same lead characters where each episode is acomplete story Spooks (BBC), House (C5) or The Bill (ITV), Heartbeat (ITV) or MidsummerMurders, Agatha Christie’s Poirot (ITV) Casualty (BBC) and Dr Who (BBC) or US series likeSuperman.
...and the expensive and successful US series such as House, Desperate Housewivesand Ugly Betty are a mixture between the two with ongoing over arching plot lines andsome form of closure in each episode. The main characters continue, but the story told -the challenge, the question, the problem of that episode - is resolved at the end of thehour. Successful US series are made with 22 to 24 episodes.Series drama usually conforms to certain genres such as:•Medical - Casualty, Holby City•Crime and Justice – The Bill, Life on Mars (see case study), Ashes to Ashes•Family – Smallville•High School – Skins•A type of Science fiction – Dr Who, Heroes, TorchwoodOther classifications of TV drama:The mini-series – a serial or series of up to about 6 episodes.The one-off drama – as it says, a special drama of only one episode.The costume drama – typically an adaptation of a classic text such as Jane Austen’sPride and Prejudice, or a Dickens novel such as Bleak House. Discuss... what type of TV drama is LOST?Resources:Television Studies: An Introduction: Jonathan Bignell: (Routledge., 2004)The Television Handbook (third edition): Jonathan Bignell & Jeremy Orlebar Routledge2005State of Play: Contemporary High-end TV drama: Robin Nelson (MUP 2007)Digital Television Production: Jeremy Orlebar (Arnold 2002) 1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama 2. http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/drama 3. http://www.screenonline.org.uk BFi resources for British TV and film 4. http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/drama/index.html Some interesting articles on TV drama 5. http://www.e4.com/skins/