ITV is hoping a police series to boost daytime drama. Produced by the makers of The Bill, the new series, True Crime, has been commissioned for twenty episodes.
The series has been created for Fremantle Media UK by former The Bill executive Paul Marquess and will be produced at the former prime time cop drama’s studios. The show however won’t have the Thames Television branding like its predecessor instead a new production label will be introduced, which Broadcast states is, entitled Newman Street.
The hour long episodes are the first drama to be especially commissioned for ITV daytime in four years. The last major production The Royal Today – a spin off from now-axed Sunday night 1960s set hospital drama The Royal – failed to draw audiences and ran for only one short ten-week season.
Fremantle Media own a number of production companies around the globe including Grundy, which produced Neighbours and The Young Doctors in Australia as well as UFA in Germany which has had a successful drama record with shows such as Unter Uns and Forbidden Love, the latter which has been remade in several other territories. The UK production is reported to be looking at how UFA produce their popular drama to take ideas and learn lesions from their European colleagues.
Alison Sharman, ITV’s director of factual and daytime, told Broadcast magazine that the show is “very confident and sassy” with plenty of grit, adding, “We tested the pilot with our viewer panel and we came back with positive responses from younger and older viewers.”
Currently ITV have played it “safe” with daytime drama showing either imports from the USA or re-running prime-time dramas such as Lewis and Midsomer Murders in afternoon slots.
True Crime is to focus on a couple of police officers working on cases evolved from by real events, it is also suggested some parts of the drama will be unscripted. ITV’s most successful daytime serial was viewer-favourite Crossroads, running for 24 years and achieving prime-time ratings despite being shown at different times in different ITV areas across the daytime schedules. The motel-based soap was spearheaded by Reg Watson who went onto create a host of popular serials for Australia’s Grundy Television including Sons and Daughters and Prisoner Cell Block H.
The daytime drama is the second commission for Fremantle Media UK this month. A sport-entertainment series, Let’s Get Gold, is to be produced by Thames Television and fronted by Family Fortunes host Vernon Kaye for ITV in the summer as part of the Oylmpic celebrations.
[Written by Neil Lang]