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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005
    Abbott on Television
     
    "Audiences deserve, and I believe crave, much more protein in their diet. Only by giving the viewer a workout, making them join the dots, use their own imagination, can we reclaim television drama as the challenging, exciting, life-changing medium that I and many others have known it to be."

    Good to hear Paul Abbott delivering the Huw Wheldon lecture at the Royal Television Society's convention. Not especially because of his criticism of shoddy TV dramas, which has inevitably grabbed the headlines; more for his positive enthusiasm for programmes which treated the audience - and the subjects - with respect.

    "The commonest excuse for drama being bland or inoffensive or just crap is that the audience can't assimilate complex story-telling. This is just patronising. Audiences today can handle as much as you can throw at them."

    The best bit of his speech I've not seen reported anywhere; it was about Clocking Off, that excellent series of factory-floor cameos which focussed on the life of a different worker each episode, and did so with integrity and depth. He spoke about his decision to jettison the usual working-class stereotypes and to explore the possibility that ordinary working people's lives were complex, vital, vibrant, intense, and so on. How right he was to follow that instinct; how good were the results.