Double the length of TV dramas, urges Peter Moffat

Criminal Justice writer Peter Moffat has backed Shameless creator Paul Abbott’s calls for more US-style, longer-running drama series to be commissioned in the UK, claiming 13-part runs would allow him to “slow down” his storytelling.

The writer – whose latest drama is a six-part BBC series called Silk – said 13-part shows, which are commonplace in the US, enabled more character development.

He said: “I would love the idea of being able to slow down, to be honest. The obvious example [of a longer-running series] is The Wire, and in that there is a lot of people sitting around, being great and interesting – being characters. And I think that is terrific.”

Moffat’s comments follow those of Abbott, who used a speech at last year’s television festival in Edinburgh to argue that the norm of commissioning series of six episodes in the UK stifles creativity and does not allow an audience to “grow an affection” for a programme.

He accused UK drama of lacking “guts”, and warned that not investing in long runs was costing the industry money, claiming that they were “what the Americans want to buy from us”.

However, both Moffat and Abbott’s arguments are likely to go unheeded by the BBC. The Corporation’s controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson last year said British broadcasters must stop “punishing” themselves for not being like America, and added that long-running series would not be viable financially in the UK.

Meanwhile, Moffat has revealed he is penning two new projects for the BBC, one of which is a UK version of the German series Heimat, which he is making with Company Pictures, the production house behind Skins.

He is also creating a drama called The Cross, which he described as a “contemporary crime series” based around the King’s Cross area of London.

“It starts seven or eight years ago, when King’s Cross wasn’t what it is becoming now, and it traces what happens to that little society when development arrives and crime is pushed out,” he said.

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