After reading the comments about writers from New Tricks actors Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and Dennis Waterman on the BBC News web page, and writer and director Julian Simpson's wonderful four lettered sprinkled replies on Twitter, I experienced a moment of utter disbelief and anger. When I calmed down an hour later I looked at the actors' accusations a little closer and wondered where the true blame for bland TV might lie.
For those of you who haven't seen the article Amanda Redman and her fellow actors basically accused the writers of New Tricks of making the show bland.
My personal belief is bland TV does exist and is a problem. I would like to point out I'm not saying Amanda Redman and her fellow actors are right and New Tricks is bland TV, because to be honest I don't watch the show so I wouldn't know. That is for other people to decide and comment on. However, there's a perfect example in the form of another show I won't mention, which I'm extremely disappointed to see returning to our screens sometime soon. It is a very bland drama, one I will be avoiding at all costs. But is it wrong to blame the writers?
From my experience the majority of writers aren't bland and are fit to bursting with brilliant ideas. There are a huge number of exciting TV scripts out there, several of which I've had the pleasure to read over the years. They have been bold and brilliant and shows I would happily invest my time in if they were broadcast. Yet none of the screenplays I've read so far have been produced and broadcast. This seems strange to me when long running shows that could be considered bland keep being granted new series every year.
What I do know is what I like and what I hate. For example I loved BBC 3's The Fades. It was brilliantly bold and original and yet it was cancelled after its first series. It won awards, but even that wasn't enough to save it. Is that the fault of the writers?
Perhaps the blame for bland TV actually lies with the producers and executives that make the decisions, who are afraid to stray too far from what they know in case it fails and costs them their job? They don't want viewers to turn off and are afraid to offend or alienate.
Or perhaps it's the fault of the viewers who happily sit and watch dull TV because it's become familiar to them as an old sofa or a favourite mug? If only they would switch off and demand something braver, more daring, more original.
Or perhaps the blame lies with the critics who poo poo any show that dares to be different? What do they know anyway?
One thing I know for sure the blame can't be laid solely at the feet of writers, if at all. We have to look further to find where the problems really lie in TV drama and to simply aim these accusations solely at the writers of the show is both wrong and naive.
After all you have to remember that unless you're lucky enough to be Russell T Davies or Steven Moffat most writers have to do as they're asked on a show or they get booted in favour of someone who will do as they're told.