Silk and other TV shows that have left us too soon

Maxine Peake in Silk, which will not return for a fourth series.
Matthew Hemley
Matt is news editor for The Stage, having started as the newspaper’s broadcast reporter. He covers all areas of the industry in his role, but has a particular interest in musical theatre. Matt studied acting at Bretton Hall and presents a monthly theatre news round up on BBC London Radio.
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So that’s it then. Next week, we bid farewell to BBC1 series Silk. I’m gutted.

Silk has had me gripped for three series now with its mix of court case action entwined with the personal dramas of the barristers at its heart. And I don’t think there’s a better actor than Maxine Peake working in television today.

According to Peter Moffat, the show’s creator:

The main characters in Silk all have personal and professional stories which are coming to a natural conclusion at the end of this current series - it would be dishonest as a writer and unfair to the integrity of the show and everyone involved in it to prolong the series beyond what I hope is a powerful and compelling denouement.

Personally, I would happily have tuned in to Silk for another series, maybe even another two. It’s gone too soon as far as I’m concerned.

Perhaps a petition will be launched to save it. It worked for Not Going Out, which was dropped in 2009, only for the strength of viewers’ feelings to cause commissioners to reconsider and bring it back. Sometimes TV execs do listen to the viewers. So who knows, we may yet see Maxine Peake in court robes once more.

In the meantime, here are some other dramas that were axed before their time.


Poor Rupert Penry Jones – it’s not going particularly well for him. Silk has been axed, and meanwhile – over on  ITV – Whitechapel, in which he also starred, has too. It ran for four series. I admit it had become a little bit silly. But its silliness was part of what made it so enjoyable. It probably could have run for another series, at least.

Cape Wrath

Cape what? I hear some of you ask. Well, it was a drama that ran on Channel 4, starring David Morrissey and Lucy Cohu and was about a family on a witness protection programme. It was weird, mysterious and rather wonderful. But Channel 4 didn’t think so. Series two never happened.


Starring Alan Davies as a celebrity chef, the show was axed after just one series in 2011. Fans rallied to save it, and a website was even formed at www.bringbackwhite.com. But the BBC couldn’t be persuaded to change its mind. And Davies is still angry, as this article just last year reveals.

The Hour

BBC2’s The Hour, written by Abi Morgan, had two series but didn’t make it to a third, despite its topnotch cast of actors, including Dominic West and Ben Whishaw, and its loyal fans. I still have people asking me if there’s any way to find out if Freddie (Whishaw) survived or not. Morgan says he probably would have. But we won’t ever know for sure.


The series was a US one, but featured British actors, including Jack Davenport. It was shown in the UK on Five and remains the only series that has ever tempted me to switch to that channel. Sadly there was no petition set up for this one after its demise. Otherwise I totally would have signed it.