WHY I WATCH BRITISH DRAMA

Stanley Fernandes, Sales Director – BBC Studios talks about the ways in which British drama is different from other drama, and attempts at demystifying the English content

18 Feb, 2019 by STANLEY FERNANDES

We often watch television dramas to escape our regular lives after a long day. British dramas, on the other hand, have an extra element. They draw us in to the vortex of the story, immersing us into their world, leaving us white knuckled and on the edge of our seats to the very moments of the show. This is my attempt at demystifying British drama. What defines a good drama series is the gripping three-plot sequence to each episode, a hook that keeps a viewer riveted to the screen and urges you to come back for the next episode - a necessity in every show.

Many dramas rely on aesthetics – handsome men, gorgeous women, styling, and these are temporary glues to keep a viewer in pace. British dramas like Sherlock, Doctor Who and The Collection are part of the trend. But do frills last? Ultimately it is the story. Great storytelling requires great writing, and where better than from the land of Shakespeare? Classics like Sherlock Holmes have stood the test of time, because the meat was in the story and intrigue.

BBC’s drama, Doctor Foster it is a story that has been told before. If you watch the series, you dissolve into it and you become a part of the characters’ mindset. All credit goes to the ability of creating a symphony of nuanced characters, plots and layered writing that will leave you experiencing the moment. Every show has a number of characters, orchestrated by their own intent to beautifully contribute to the story as a whole. In another British drama, Thirteen, the series centers on a young woman who escapes after being captive for thirteen years. The story is not just about her, but also that of her captor, her family, the police investigating her and the case, Doctor Who and look at the show’s writers; the current series written by Chris Chibnall, to the previous ones by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, they are all playwrights. Even the actors, Jodie Whittaker, Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and David Tennant have all had their roots in theatre. As we all know, theatre is the most undiluted medium of the arts. This subtle, theatrical experience is clearly reflected on screen.

We all had our initiation into British drama when watching BBC’s various series on Doordarshan back in the past. It all began with comedy and history, but the way to enthralling an evolved audience is clearly in drama and intrigue, with a fair bit of conspiracy and action thrown in for good measure. Modern British drama engages you with this sequence. Watching television drama unfold is an art, and I would like to think that British drama could really be defined as art for the sake of art. It is meant to involve the audience and the mind. Hence, the writing is wired in an emotional and psychological way to gear the brain. The story sets the precedent and everything else follows into place sequentially. Personally, this is what works for me.

Feedback: Stanley.Fernandes@bbc.com Category: Backbeat Volume No: 15 Issue No: 37

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