We weren’t the only ones disappointed when Zen was canned a couple of months ago, but last night BBC Controller Danny Cohen explained why it and other similar programmes have been axed in the last year as he warned against filling the schedule with “too many male detectives” and “too much crime”.
“You can’t keep on doing everything if you want to bring in new things,” said Cohen as he spoke of his decision to retire the Italian detective played by Rufus Sewell. “I felt that we risked having too many male detectives and arguably we have had maybe too much crime. Detectives and crime is the real staple of quite a lot on the BBC but also a huge amount of ITV drama … I want to broaden the palette a bit.”
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch in London, Cohen pointed out that BBC1 already has hit series Sherlock and Wallander in it’s locker and male detective dramas include Luther and George Gently, while ITV1 has Lewis, Midsomer Murders, DCI Banks and the recent well-received one-off drama The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.
He also used the address to speak about the lack of older actors on British television, an issue raised by Caroline Quentin recently. “I think we know there’s more work to do there. It’s not a BBC issue, it’s an industry issue, we have to get better,” he said.
Cohen went on to say that he sometimes wonders about “the degree of scrutiny of the BBC” on a daily basis in newspapers and warned: “Britain would be a poorer place without the BBC, we should be careful how far we kick it.”
So what do you think? Is there too much crime on television?