With the consensus saying that ITV has upped its game in the world of TV drama, what does the BBC have up its ample sleeve in response?
Yesterday (Thursday 9th May) BBC One revealed four new drama commissions, made by outgoing BBC One Controller Danny Cohen. All four are set in the past, which is frankly only going to encourage those pundits saying viewers need some nostalgia to get us through these tough economic times.
First up, the channel has got nostalgia and costume drama safely covered with Poldark. Poldark has already been adapted for TV back in the '70s - before the time of Not The Chap in Dracula, of course - so no preconceptions here. Six hour long episodes will cover the romantic saga set in the late 18th century Cornwall. If, like us, you don't know the story it covers Ross Poldark returning from war expecting a loving reunion with his family, but instead finding his home has gone to rack and ruin, his fiancee has got engaged to his cousin thinking him dead… I hate it when that happens.
The works of Dickens have been successfully mined in the worlds of TV and film, but the next project - 'Dickensian' - comes from the pen/quill/keyboard of TV genius Tony Jordan, behind the ITV Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach experiment, co-creator of Life on Mars and the man behind Hustle. Typically, Dickensian won't be a simple adaptation but a multi-part series told over half-hour instalments. Characters from Dickens books will meet one another 'in the most surprising of ways', says the BBC press release. Meta.
Next up we move back to the present, almost. Three 60 minute episodes of 'From There to Here' will cover the aftermath of the Arndale bombing in Manchester in the '90s. Pitched as a family saga and covering the aforementioned IRA bombing, the blurb says it will be funny and moving, so we're guessing it will be light on the crime procedural side. Sounds good already, to be honest.
Finally there's 'Our Zoo', covering the true story of the man who created Chester Zoo in the 1930s and the impact it had on his family. That's another six episode series and combining a period setting with animals, a la All Creatures Great and Small. A damn sensible move.
So, there you have it. What do make of that?