Thursday, March 23, 2006

Drama Series: 60 or 90 Minutes?

I'm currently going through yet another rewrite on Where Angels Fear To Tread to polish it up before I send it out.

It's the first episode of a series of six but the page count is causing me concern. I originally conceived it as a 6 x 90 minute drama series but looking through the Radio Times I've noticed most drama series run at 60 minutes; EG, Hustle, New Tricks, Mayo, The Royal, etc. But there are a few exceptions such as A Touch Of Frost, Agatha Christie's Poirot and Taggart. Most of the 60 minute dramas are on the BBC and the 90 minute ones are on ITV. It seems 90 minutes are mostly reserved for long running shows or two-part 'event' dramas.

So what do I do? Savage the episode to get it down to 60 minutes, or stick to my guns and go with 90 minute episodes?

Your advice would be appreciated.


Lianne said...

I'd tend to lean towards 60 minutes, if only because 6 90 minute episodes is a lot of story to cover. When you think about some of the best in recent 60 minute drama, like Life on Mars, Spooks or Waking the Dead, a lot happens in that hour. But ultimately, go with what suits the series and your ideas best. Good luck with it!

Tim Clague said...

I'd go 60 as well. It might do the script good (might as I've not read it) as too many 90 minutes drag in my view.

Piers said...

Savage. Why lower your chances?

Dominic Carver said...

Where's my scissors?

If I'm honest I knew it had to be 60 minutes, I was just trying to cram too much into the first episode. I can use some of the stuff I cut in other episodes so nothing will be lost. Thanks folks, I'm now going to get my lazy ass moving on tightening this script up.

Tim, there's a portion of the script on my website if you REALLY want to read it. If you want to read more, no problem as I'm just down the road in Christchurch. :-)

Paul Campbell said...

Opening episodes are nightmares. So much to cram in. Plus you have to demonstrate that it will work thereafter.

I'm working on an idea at the moment and I've chosen to write episode 2 as the sample. I'll knock up a cast list for the recurring characters, and a one-page series outline, but at least I won't have to worry about getting all the set up into those 60 minutes.

If you simply can't cut your back to 60 mins, you could always try the approach that this is the "feature-length pilot". It's not uncommon for a series to kick off with a full-length story and then cut back to 60 mins thereafter.

Lianne said...

I've been tagged, so I'm obliged to pass it on: