Every new year, following all the festive specials, TV channels serve up a selection of winter dramas to keep our interest in the box in the corner on the long cold evenings.
For a change, ITV seem to be having some success. After the frustration of a series I liked being cancelled mid-series (despite all the episodes having been completed) – Making Waves which sank without trace – I was slightly reluctant to engage with this year’s fare.
On Monday nights The Palace is a mischievously light-hearted comedy drama, starting with the pretext of the King dying and the sudden coronation of his eldest son Richard. Young, brash, but not quite as drunken as his younger brother George, his new role is proving a stretch for the new monarch. Plenty of upset loyalties, a bit West Wing but with a lot more “downstairs” views of life serving in the palace, and not just the “upstairs” world-changing decisions. It would be a shame if viewing figures dropped off and it was cancelled. But it’s probably not worth a second series.
Sticking with ITV, the pretend behind-the-scenes Moving Wallpaper started strongly, and is still keeping ahead of the less than engaging soap Echo Beach that follows it on Friday nights. (Well actually, more likely to pick this up on ITV Catch Up as there’s no way you’d be bothered watching it live.) An interesting twist on Drop the Dead Donkey, but with both shows so tightly tied together, but only one swimming, I predict Echo Beach pulls Moving Wallpaper underwater and they pair don’t resurface.
Such a pity that Primeval on Saturday evenings can now be summed up in one word: awful. Gave it a second chance, but it's truly woeful. Time to fall into its own anomaly, despite the good international sales.
Update - Friday 22 - Coincidentally, Media Guardian has run a related story this morning under the headline ...
ITV ditches Rebus amid cull threat
ITV1 crime show Rebus has been axed - and talks are under way over whether a number of the commercial broadcaster's new - and underperforming - drama series will return.
ITV executives have been holding talks this week with the producers of a slate of new ITV1 dramas launched last month which have failed to pull in big ratings, including the Amanda Redman series Honest, royal drama The Palace and the linked comedy Moving Wallpaper and soap Echo Beach.
It is understood no decisions have been taken on whether the series will return, although not all of them are expected to survive.
Honest, which pulled in 4 million viewers for its final episode last week, is thought to be the most likely to return as it attracted the best results on the audience appreciation – or AI - index.
The Tony Jordan-penned comedy Moving Wallpaper, which attracted 2.4 million viewers last week, and its linked soap Echo Beach, which dipped to a low of 1.9 million on Friday, are not expected to return.
The ITV spokeswoman added: "As many of this year's 9pm dramas are still on air no decisions have yet been made on recommissions.
Despite this uncertainty, a ten episode dose of Taggart has been commissioned for transmission at the end of 2008.
Update - 25 February - "ITV has confirmed it has recommissioned comedy Moving Wallpaper for a second series, although it has not yet decided what to do with its linked soap Echo Beach." Media Guardian
Update - 10 April - The Palace has not been recommissioned, and Media Guardian hints that Echo Beach will return beside the already confirmed Moving Wallpaper.