fri 15/12/2017

h Club 100 Awards: Broadcast - calling out around the world | reviews, news & interviews

h.Club 100 Awards: Broadcast - calling out around the world

h.Club 100 Awards: Broadcast - calling out around the world

It's been said before, but the British are coming

Rude but pin-sharp: Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Hugh Skinner in 'Fleabag'

As Sky’s Head of Drama Anne Mensah puts it, her ambition is to “stay local but look global”. This might serve as a motto for television in its entirety, as technology swallows the planet and TV is increasingly shaped by coalitions of international broadcasters and production companies. Internet streaming services have abolished national boundaries far more effectively than the European Commission ever could.

The roster of programmes that Mensah has supervised for Sky’s various channels is an index of this process, making her an obvious nominee for the h.100 Broadcasting award. She has brought us the multinational Arctic thriller Fortitude, the freaky Gothic mash-up Penny Dreadful (a Sky/Showtime collaboration), the Anglo-French crime drama The Last Panthers, Mediterranean skulduggery in Riviera, and the high-rating collaboration with Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee on Lucky Man. Sky Atlantic’s current drama Tin Star (starring Tim Roth, pictured below) is another benchmark, a smouldering revenge drama set in remote Alberta, but reaching across continents.

Tim Roth in Tin StarAnother of TV’s top women is Nichola Schindler, the powerhouse behind Red Production Company which has produced a stream of influential hits dating back to Queer As Folk and including Last Tango in Halifax and the blockbusting Happy Valley. She’s typical of the passionate, driven individuals without whom broadcasting, whether local or multinational, cannot thrive. It’s a tribute to the vibrancy of the UK’s broadcasting industries that our judges had candidates beating a path to their door from a swathe of disciplines, from writing and production to acting and directing, and from news and current affairs to cooking programmes. Mary Berry (our panel decided) has now transcended the confines of being a mere baker of cakes to become patron saint, therapist and best friend to her vast viewership. Robert Peston has put a rocket under ITV’s political coverage not only with his provocative delivery and unusual hair, but also with his energy and deep insider knowledge. Meanwhile Jeff Pope, supremo of ITV Studios, struck gold with the real-life dramas The Moorside on BBC One and Little Boy Blue on ITV, and has a treatment of the Hatton Garden jewellery heist in the pipeline.

Fresh out of the starting blocks of her career is Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who exploded into instant stardom with the rude but pin-sharp Fleabag, a show which began on stage before advancing rapidly from BBC Three to BBC Two and thence to Amazon Video and the USA. A similar trajectory was followed by Asim Chaudhry’s People Just Do Nothing (described as, among other things, “the best British comedy in years”), which travelled from YouTube to BBC iPlayer to BBC Two to Netflix.

It has become routine to observe how swarms of British actors are bagging lead roles in prestigious American productions in television and film – a few who spring instantly to mind are Dan Stevens, Tom Hiddleston, Michelle Dockery, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rupert Friend – and joining them is Claire Foy, already an It-girl of British drama, but now an international household name for her fine portrayal of the young Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s royal blockbuster The Crown.

But let’s not overlook the UK’s prowess in documentary making, seen at full blast this past year in James Bluemel’s Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, a three-part series which cut to the heart of the great refugee migration by equipping participants with video cameras, and Jamie Roberts’s War Child, which personalised the perilous journey from the Middle East to Europe by seeing it through the eyes of three children from Afghanistan and Syria (Emran and Hussain, pictured above). Broadcasting may not be able to change the world, but it sure can shrink it.

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