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Can someone explain British television series to me? Tom? Katy?

All the British shows I’ve seen here in America on PBS or Comedy Central seem to have short runs. A season of Absolutely Fabulous, for example, had only 6 episodes compared to 24 or more shows in a season of Friends here in America. My latest favorite British series Touching Evil, which I’ve been watching on videotape, is only six 1-hour episodes each year.

So how are shows scheduled there? Do all the shows have their season premieres at the same time like here? Do stations always show the shows in the same time slot throughout the year? Do stations just show repeated episodes all year? Has the importation of American television series had an impact on the structure of British television seasons?

I’ve very curious.

1 response so far (Respond)

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British television does not have the same seasonal structure as American television. New series emerge throughout the year and some show (such as Have I Got News For You) broadcast two series within one year. Having said that the Autumn season is generally where the most popular (or thought to be the most popular) shows are premiered. I am not entirely sure why British television shows are so much shorter than American ones. It could be to do with the fact that British sitcoms are usually written by one person or partnership of two. Or it could be to do with the much smaller budgets our television shows relative to yours. Alternatively it could be to do with the large amount of documentary and factual programmes (particularly property-related ones at the moment) that are shown over here. As for the impact of American shows on British television, well, that has been limited by the fact that they are often shown on the smaller channels (BBC2, Channel 4 and Channel 5). Hope that helped.

MrPresident | 1 Dec 2003