Russell T Davies warned of the severe problems TV faces in the wake of the coronavirus crisis: “There is a great threat to all broadcasters, everywhere.”
The writer was talking at an RTS North West online Q&A in late April. He recalled the 2008 recession, when friends at ITV told him, “‘We don’t know if we can show this episode of The Bill tonight,’ [because] they were so short of advertisers and money.
“This recession is going to be even bigger and it’s going to affect the commercial channels hugely… and [the streamers] will start cutting back as well.
“We’ve got a Government that is morally and profoundly opposed to the BBC. Please don’t think they’ll change their minds about the BBC in this crisis.”
Davies’s latest project, Red Production Company’s Boys, about Aids in the 1980s, is in post-production and due to air on Channel 4 in the autumn.
During the lockdown, he said, “everything is doable online. The only part of the process where people will have to move is ADR – additional dialogue recording. But it’s going to be quite simple to pop an actor in a car and get them safely to a studio.”
As a writer, he said, life during lockdown was “not very different. I’m lucky because I’m in that lull between projects, so I don’t have to think concretely.”
But, if he were writing a domestic drama, “it would be so hard to work out what life was going to be like in 12 months’ time. How do you write about a family now? How can you be topical with the stuff you’re writing, because it’s all changing so fast?
“The last thing I would want to watch now is a drama on lockdown, with everyone in isolation. Unless it’s very gay and sexy, I suppose – then I’d watch it.”
Rachel Pinkney produced the RTS event, which was hosted by Red Production Company’s LA Smith, and held in partnership with MediaCity UK and Red.