The BBC’s decision to schedule the final ever series of Spooks opposite ITV1’s Downton Abbey – one of the few decent shows the channel has made in years – was always destined to end with a win for ITV.
The BBC said it had decided to create a “special event” by scheduling the show in the same Sunday 9pm slot Downton would occupy.
As with corporation’s previous decision to create a ‘special event’ for Strictly Come Dancing fans, it was its own show which suffered.
That outcome was obvious from the moment the announcement was made.
But the scale of defeat was far worse than even the most sceptical commentator had expected – the BBC One spy drama was seen by barely half the 9.12m who tuned in to watch Downton’s return.
Sacrificing Spooks to ITV’s period drama is disrespectful to both the show and its audience.
For a decade the show was one of the BBC’s best dramas, talented writers cherry picked events phrases from the news and turned them into the starting point for tales of intrigue, action and danger.
And the audience lapped it up.
The JIC, dodgy dossiers, dead drops and cut-outs all became buzzwords of the age.
Yet none of that stopped the show being given the sort of treatment the corporation normally reserves for female presenters who dare stop being 30.
It’s beyond comprehension that any one thinks it appropriate to mark the passing a show which had such a huge cultural impact and delivered a reliable, bankable audience by shoving its final series into an unwinnable slot.
What a slap in the face for everyone involved in the series and its loyal audience!