Why can’t a British company do something like Game of Thrones?

The first season of Game of Thrones finished this week and I have to say, I found it compelling entertainment.

Given its strong British cast (Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Michelle Fairley, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, …) and filming locations predominantly in Northern Ireland, why could this not have been a British production instead of an HBO one?

Outside the sitcom genre it seems like we have so few decent TV series in the UK compared to those in the US. There have been a few notable exceptions for me, like Luther and Sherlock. Other than that, what has there been?

I realise this is, as jwz would put it, farting in nerd church, but is Doctor Who the best we have to offer the world?

I feel like I am supposed to like that show. I want to like that show. Every time I’ve tried to watch that show, I’ve been disappointed by the poor story lines, script, acting and special effects. Yet as far as I can see this thing has a budget of £10million per series or something. I can’t like that show, sorry.

There, I said it. Are some nice men from Auntie going to come and confiscate my TV licence now?

5 thoughts on “Why can’t a British company do something like Game of Thrones?

  1. Agree completely about Doctor Who; the writing is utterly terrible. I attempted to watch Sherlock but gave up after the first episode, it just seemed far too similar to Doctor Who.

    HBO certainly benefits from the larger american broadcasting ecosystem/audiences and the fact it has an already established audience who are prepared to watch something that requires them to put their laptops down and give the tv the full attention required. (i’ve read that one of the main challenges to broadcasters was that people just don’t give the tv full attention anymore and so can’t easily do dense, story-driven series such as the wire or game of thrones as people lose track of what’s going on and give up after the first few eps.)

    I guess in the UK the BBC (and it seems the BBC are the only british broadcaster really putting money into anything) won’t commit to the large budgets required until something has established itself, like Doctor Who has (as well as british programming favouring shorter commissions anyway). Also, the BBC catering to more general audiences (unlike HBO) would be more adverse to challenging prime-time series.

    I’ve just caught up with Luther and enjoyed it immensely. The Shadow Line which recently aired on BBC was pretty good too.

    I guess it’s all symptomatic of UK networks having to cater to a more general audience to get the viewing figures.

  2. I second the disliking dr who sentiment. I’ve tried to like it but it just seems rubbish.

    Thanks for the heads up for Luther. I hadn’t heard of that one before.

    “Castle” is good – but American….

  3. Believe me, there is nothing worth watching in the U.S. Cable companies are charging outragous prices for reruns, so I don’t have it. When GOT comes out on DVD I’ll buy it, though. Only channel I watch a lot of is PBS. Sat. night they have Dr. Who – a year late, but better than no Dr. Who. I like the new Who, but miss David. I also like your old comedies – old to you, new to PBS.

    1. Susan, you have got to be kidding. Just off the top of my head and from the last few years:

      The West Wing
      Studio 60
      The Sopranos
      The Shield
      Sons of Anarchy
      The Wire
      The Walking Dead

      really I could go on for a lot longer.

  4. 3 words: ‘economy of scale’.

    The US has more good television because it also has enormous amounts more shite television. Only (well – mostly) the good stuff gets imported. The US have had more TV channels (and a lot more people) than the UK for a long time.

    Having said that – I like Doctor Who. But what about Top Gear? Or stuff like Misfits?

    And let’s not forget that the US have equally cancelled some excellent shows (Firefly!? Why-oh-why?!?)

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