THERE'S no denying the fact ITV drama has historically contributed to increased national depression levels.
You sit down, dishes done, essential phone calls made, hot tea and iced gingerbread arranged on coffee table and ready to gorge in clever, crisp drama only to choke on banal dialogue.
The level of disappointment is that of the kid who'd hoped for a racing bike at Christmas, only to be presented with a car coat. (Yes, you're right; such scars never heal).
We gave ITV so many chances, perhaps because of past successes. But for every Upstairs Downstairs there has been a raft of Ross Kemp vehicles. For every Sweeney we've had to endure six Suranne Jones/Tamsin Outhwaite/Sarah Lancashire woman-against-all-odds nonsense. (Taggart was great for Glasgow's balance of payments but little else).
ITV drama has been the postman with the bad back of drama producers, delivering so irregularly. But this autumn we've already been confronted with clever three-part drama The Last Weekend, (which saw ITV break the fourth wall for the first time) and entertained by the highly engaging BBC4-standard period piece Mrs Biggs in our homes.
Yes, A Mother's Son, with Martin Clunes was predictable, but Leaving, with Helen McCrory was very good as was The Bletchley Circle. They've got Downton of course. And promise lots more quality to come.
Now, it transpires ITV has had an extra £28m to spend this year on drama, but they could have commissioned a new, poor Upstairs Downstairs or fluff such as the Beeb's The Paradise – and had Sarah Lancashire star in another turkey.
So now I'm uttering the line I figured I was least likely to say in my life – ITV drama is hugely entertaining.
No. Cancel that. Second least likely. The first would be directed to Ms Jones of BBC's The One Show. "Gosh, Alex, you really are clever."
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