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2011 wasn’t all that bad for TV & Commercials, was it? by Thomas Urbye, The Look So what does 2012 hold? 2 011 was pretty depressing, reading the paper or watching the news was a miserable experience, and all in all, those who still have a job, or have a business should apparently be chuffed to bits! Manufacturers have had a torrid 2011 with various disasters striking key supply lines around the world, meaning shortage of tape stock, and now hard drives and the like.  Interestingly though, while my suppliers may have had a tough time, a lot of my clients have actually had a pretty good year, not exactly the best ever for most, but many have told me that when they actually worked out the numbers, their figures were actually very good – both freelancers and production companies. So if this is the case, and for us we had a very good year, what is it that makes us all feel so uncertain about 2012, despite quite a few of us media based companies having surprisingly good revenue?  The big thing for many is “Do we expand premises, get more 48 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE people, invest in new technology, or just keep capital in the business just in case it gets bad in 2012?”.  Unfortunately I think the tendency is to opt for the latter, across all industries, not just our own, and I’m inclined to agree with them, which does nothing for getting the economy going, but most people are just too scared to risk losing it all when everyone is telling you that the first six months of 2012 is going to be horrible. This year we worked on ‘South Riding’ for BBC, ‘Monroe’ for ITV, ‘Top Boy’ for Channel 4, ‘The Fades’ for BBC, ‘Whitechapel 3’ for ITV, ‘The Bodyfarm’ for BBC, ‘Bert & Dickie’ for BBC and ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ for BBC.  This adds up to 29 hours of drama for us, and we’re very proud of all of the work.  ‘Top Boy’ and ‘The Fades’ stood out this year as youth orientated shows which both received critical acclaim.  With ‘Top Boy’, Channel 4 invested thousands in advertising, which meant that it pulled in a large and very diverse audience.  During its transmission week, it was the second most popular topic (trending) talked about on Twitter in London, Manchester and Birmingham.  It’s fantastic when a series pushes the boundaries of storytelling and its craft, and produces something which is more than just ‘ok’, and ‘Top Boy’, though difficult for many to watch, received such great reviews that everyone involved is genuinely proud to have worked on it.  To engage with such a diverse age range from all different walks of life, to be truly compelling, is a testament to what can be achieved to create great, world leading UK drama – any comparisons to ‘The Wire’ can only be gratifying for those involved. We were delighted to work on some wonderful TV drama this year, and I genuinely feel like the standard of UK drama is increasing, despite the year on year reduction in budgets from some broadcasters.  Although more drama is being commissioned next year from nearly all the broadcasters, the chances are there will be more drama series but a little bit more money spread across quite a few more of them.  This does have the unfortunate effect that UK drama has: too few shooting days and prep, too few extras and atmosphere, too few truly realistic locations, and too few decent wide shots if anything other than contemporary UK is the subject – all this hinders UK drama when compared to what the US can produce.  The directing, producing, acting and technical craft is so high in the UK, that it’s a shame that sometimes the budget and subject matter is often so, well, safe.  For UK drama to really get to a world stage then broadcasters need to increase budgets to capture the aforementioned, give writers more time to finesse their work, and increase budgets on those dramas that really need it, only then can we hope to create true ‘brilliance’ for a world stage on more regular occasions.