On one hand, you’d think there would be the potential to view the recent announcement of the commissioning of series 4 of Downton Abbey and think, “…our work here is done“. Not so, however, if you are ITV and have your sights set on taking over for the BBC in the world of drama output. Already on the books for 2013 for ITV, in addition to Downton Abbey, comes Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven, The Bletchley Circle, which is based on the lives of four fictional women whose brilliant work at top security HQ Bletchley Park during World War II helped break codes used by the German military and Endeavour, the Inspector Morse prequel that stars Shaun Evans as a young Inspector Endeavour Morse set in 1960′s Oxford.
Throw in new series of Scott and Bailey, DCI Banks and Doc Martin and it’s really time to sit back and just enjoy the ride. More recent commissions from ITV include what looks to be a very promising comedy sitcom, Vicious, starring two screen legends, Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. Vicious tells the story of ageing partners, Freddie (McKellen) and Stuart (Jacobi), two men who have lived together in a small Covent Garden flat for nearly 50 years. Freddie was a budding actor and Stuart a barman when they first met but their careers are now pretty much over and their lives now consist of reading books, walking their dog and bickering.
Also, The Job Lot, is set in a busy West Midlands Job Centre and will focus on the relationships between the people that work there and the people that don’t work there, or anywhere else for that matter. Starring Sarah Hadland (Miranda) and Russell Tovey (Being Human, Him & Her), the comedy tells the story of neurotic Trish (Hadland) who runs the Brownall Job Centre aided by her staff, including reluctant and truculant Karl (Tovey).
Let’s not forget the previously mentioned Julian Fellowes’ Historical Houses where the Downton Abbey creator/writer takes viewers on a journey through the extraordinary history, upstairs and downstairs, of his favorite great houses of England. He provides a fascinating insight into the detail behind these incredible houses and the people who lived and worked there.
All told, 2013 looks like another banner year for ITV. The great thing about being a telly watcher on either side of the pond is that we are going to be treated to some stellar drama, comedy and factual programming from both the BBC and ITV. Much of the output from both broadcast outlets should find their way to PBS stations in the States in the coming year.