ITV in Good Drama Shocker

It’s very easy to knock ITV, and I’m always quite prepared to do so. I don’t like reality garbage like X-Factor, so aside from Champions’ League football, it has been off my radar for a while. But to give the channel its dues, it does seem to have turned a corner recently.
Last night we had the premiere of Downton Abbey, a ninety minute introduction to its big new costume drama series from Julian Fellowes. And it was excellent from the off. Quite how much it cost, I don’t know. Even with Masterpiece Theater money, it’s still a significant investment for ITV. The overnights suggest 7.6m watched it, although ITV weren’t taking any chances with an X-Factor lead in, as many ITV trailers as they could muster, as well as copious radio and press advertising for it.
While I squirmed a bit when the cook asked for a pot of poison to be removed from the other ingredients sitting on the table, and immediately knew what was going to happen (in a manner of speaking), the plot was interesting, and the characters developed enough to leave me wanting to learn more about them.
I confidently predict that Highclere Castle is going to do amazingly well out of this. It’s just a shame that they’re basically closed until next summer now when they’ll be fighting off the coach trips. Think of what Brideshead Revisited did for Castle Howard or Pride and Prejudice did for Lyme Hall.
Aside from that, there’s the prospect of Aftermath starting later this evening based on Peter Robinson’s long-running DCI Banks series and a very fine au revoir to Alan Plater a couple of weeks ago with Kevin Whately and Robson Green in Joe Maddison’s War (Green really was excellent in this). Add into the mix, the relative success of Law and Order UK which is back for a new series (its second, rather than third, since ITV split the first one into two tranches), and you’ve got a resurgent channel for drama. OK – I didn’t think much of Bouquet of Barbed Wire, to the point that I watched parts one and two and didn’t even bother with the third part.
But that aside, it’s a good start to the autumn season from ITV.
I just feel sorry for Scottish viewers where STV (in which I’m a shareholder by virtue of them once owning the company I work for) opted out to bring viewers a 13 year old programme about Billy Connelly in Antartica.