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What's up with British TV

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What's up with British TV
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ArthurWilbornPosts: 964Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:46 pm

Post What's up with British TV

I've been watching some old episodes of Red Dwarf, and I got to wondering:

Why is a year's worth of programming called a "series"?

Why is each series only 8-10 episodes long? Are there a lot more reruns on British TV as a result?
Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:44 pm
Your Funny UncleUser avatarPosts: 556Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 11:38 amLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Re: What's up with British TV

ArthurWilborn wrote:I've been watching some old episodes of Red Dwarf, and I got to wondering:

Why is a year's worth of programming called a "series"?

Why is each series only 8-10 episodes long? Are there a lot more reruns on British TV as a result?

8-10? Many are 6 episodes long. We don't have anything like the US philosophy where all new shows start at the end of September and last for half the year. They start whenever and go on for a few weeks. The idea of "a year's worth" is foreign to British TV although it does seem to be catching on more these days. It's also very rare for a show to be cancelled mid-way through a series. I don't think that this leads to more repeats, just a greater variety of shows. Obviously they don't all make it over to the states...
“I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.” - Isaac Asimov
Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:39 pm
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nasher168League LegendUser avatarPosts: 2518Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:34 pmLocation: Derby, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: What's up with British TV

Well I think "series" is just our term for what the Americans would call a "season". Just like "pavement" is "sidewalk" and "jam" is "jelly" to you lot.
Personally, six episodes in a series seems fairly reasonable. There's no point in dragging it out (25 episodes in the first season of Lost-WTF?). Doctor Who has thirteen episodes each series, but that's a special case because it's Doctor Who.
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Sat Jan 01, 2011 2:06 pm
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ImprobableJoeUser avatarPosts: 6195Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Post Re: What's up with British TV

I'm sort of with the Brits on this one. Shorter seasons usually means tighter story arcs, less filler, and you get to a resolution while you still remember why you started caring in the first place. A lot of the American shows I like are using this sort of shorter format, although usually not as short as 6 episodes. Leverage, for instance, did a 9-episode summer season, and then came back later in the year for another 6-episode season. Then they did 13, and then a really short 3-episode set of episodes for December.
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Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:19 pm
scalyblueUser avatarPosts: 1417Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:02 am

Post Re: What's up with British TV

nasher168 wrote:Well I think "series" is just our term for what the Americans would call a "season". Just like "pavement" is "sidewalk" and "jam" is "jelly" to you lot.
Personally, six episodes in a series seems fairly reasonable. There's no point in dragging it out (25 episodes in the first season of Lost-WTF?). Doctor Who has thirteen episodes each series, but that's a special case because it's Doctor Who.


Not to be pedantic, but jelly is made with juice and jam is made with solids. ^.^
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Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:49 pm
Your Funny UncleUser avatarPosts: 556Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 11:38 amLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Re: What's up with British TV

And what we Brits call jelly is what US types call jello. Oh the confusion...
“I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.” - Isaac Asimov
Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:59 am
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joshurtreePosts: 51Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:44 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: What's up with British TV

The major difference is the size of the writing staff. British sitcoms tend to have partnerships that would find it difficult to produce 13+ episodes a year, while American shows tend to have packs of writers that bang the stuff out in large quantities. It comes down to the fact that writers have far more control over how a show gets done. In America you would never get shows like Faulty Towers or The Office that only lasted two series. The writers would be tied to a contract that guaranteed that the show would go on till they flogged it to death.
Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:07 am
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: What's up with British TV

ArthurWilborn wrote:Are there a lot more reruns on British TV as a result?


Depends what channels you watch, for example a series shown on the BBC will be repeated ad infinitum on another channel, especially on satalite or cable services.
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Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:55 pm
scienceguy8888User avatarPosts: 34Joined: Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:29 pmLocation: uk Gender: Male

Post Re: What's up with British TV

or Dave....
Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:59 pm
australopithecusLime TordUser avatarPosts: 4346Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:27 pmLocation: Kernow Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: What's up with British TV

Especially Dave.
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:16 pm
MycerniusUser avatarPosts: 32Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:33 pmLocation: Nuneaton, UK Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: What's up with British TV

joshurtree wrote:The major difference is the size of the writing staff. British sitcoms tend to have partnerships that would find it difficult to produce 13+ episodes a year, while American shows tend to have packs of writers that bang the stuff out in large quantities. It comes down to the fact that writers have far more control over how a show gets done. In America you would never get shows like Faulty Towers or The Office that only lasted two series. The writers would be tied to a contract that guaranteed that the show would go on till they flogged it to death.

Apparently My Family is written by a team of writers. I suppose that is why it is still clogging up the schedules. Should have been laid to rest years ago.
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:23 pm
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: What's up with British TV

scalyblue wrote:
nasher168 wrote:Well I think "series" is just our term for what the Americans would call a "season". Just like "pavement" is "sidewalk" and "jam" is "jelly" to you lot.
Personally, six episodes in a series seems fairly reasonable. There's no point in dragging it out (25 episodes in the first season of Lost-WTF?). Doctor Who has thirteen episodes each series, but that's a special case because it's Doctor Who.


Not to be pedantic, but jelly is made with juice and jam is made with solids. ^.^


I eat Jam and Jell-o but marmite seems like nasty stuff. I am not sure I've ever said "jelly" aloud. I only assume it's a kind of marmalade less creamy - but this breakfast spread stuff is awfully complicated and I like eating cereal with a fork.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:41 pm
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