Friday, 24 July 2009


ITV1 unveiled today its Autumn 2009 schedule. On the Drama front it must be mentioned that some of the titles were already in the Winter/Spring Season 2008-2009 presentation but the will of ITV and its director of television, Peter Fincham, to refocus on post-watershed drama is clearly reaffirmed by this lineup where events mix with conventional and less conventional ITV shows.

And Collision is indeed an event. The five-part serial co-written by Anthony Horowitz (Crime Traveller, Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War) is likely to be aired on consecutive nights (, like what the BBC did for the recent Torchwood: Children of Earth. Starring Douglas Henshall and Paul McGann, Collision is Peter Fincham’s first new independent drama commission, with director of drama Laura Mackie, since joining ITV as director of television. It's about a major road accident, how it changes the lives of the protagonists and a string of mysteries around the tragedy - including a government cover-up. It's good to see ITV playing again on a field which made the reputation of quality of British television all over the world.

Another event if not a coup is the return of the great Robbie Coltrane to ITV1 drama after Cracker, with Murderland, a 3X60-minute thriller telling a traumatic murder story through the eyes of three central characters. Coltrane is one of them, detective Douglas Hain. Murderland is written by David Pirie (the excellent Murder Rooms) and directed by Catherine Morshead (Viva Blackpool, Ashes to Ashes). Plea to ITV and Coltrane, who is overbooked until 2052: more Cracker, the 2006 revival was incredible. Fitz must come back.

Announced at the end of 2008 but awaited more than ever: the return of Mr John Hurt as Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York, 33 years after The Naked Civil servant. And a new version of Wuthering Heights, directed by Coky Giedroyc (Blackpool) and adapted by Peter Bowker (Blackpool, Desperate Romantics), with the fantastic Tom Hardy (Bronson, Martina Cole's The Take) as Heathcliff. Costume/period dramas = BBC? Think twice...

Autumn will see the return of the best British show of 2008, The Fixer. John Mercer (Andrew Buchan), an ex-Special forces is arrested by the police after he killed his uncle and aunt because the former abused of John' sister, Jess (Liz White, revealed by Life on Mars), without any sort of intervention of the latter. He's recruited in prison by the mysterious Lenny Douglas (Peter Mullan) to become an assassin for the government. His job: to kill criminals the law cannot apprehend.

His partners: disgraced ex-copper and femme fatale Rose Chamberlin (Tamzin Outhwaite), and petty thief Calum McKenzie (Jody Latham, better actor than Hell's Kitchen candidate). He's worlds away from the intelligent, thoughtful ex-soldier, but Mercer must live with him between the missions. Reminiscent of Callan, this creation of Ben Richards for Kudos (Spooks, Hustle), is a dark, hyper-realistic spy/crime drama, with some humour and a social sub-text. Ken Loach meets the obscure side of The Equalizer. The Fixer II opens with an explosive two-parter.

Martin Clunes returns as Doc Martin for a fourth series - let's hope ITV will commission another series of Kingdom, by the way. And Julia McKenzie makes her debut as Miss Jane Marple in two brand new Agatha Christie's Marple (not your humble servant's cup of tea but Christie is an international winner). All this looks very promising and the autumn lineup will be an important test for the "Fincham effect" on ITV.

BBC Autumn Lineup:

See also:

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