The Bill is going to become a one-episode a week show. This is great news, for fans of The Bill and for viewers in general. I’ll explain.
The whole idea of having as-many-as-possible episodes a week for soaps is counterproductive. Why? Because the people making a show can only really manage an hour or so of top-quality drama per week; once you stack on that third or fourth episode, the quality drops, the padding inflates, the rewrite time decreases, everything has to be shot more rapidly etc.
And from the viewers point of view; you can keep up with a show which is on once or twice a week. More often than that, you’ll find that some episodes are non-essential viewing; EastEnders fans know that nothing important happens on a Monday, the good stuff’s always saved for the Thursday instalment. By over-exploiting your audience’s loyalty, you risk making it ‘too much bother’ to tune in for every episode. I mean, Emmerdale’s viewing figures are currently rollercoastering from 5 to 10 million viewers; that’s 5 million viewers whose allegiance to Emmerdale is very ‘soft’, who’ll only watch it if there’s nothing better on. If it was only on once or twice a week, every episode would be circle-the-TV-Guide-listing-in-red appointment viewing.
The other point is; ITV needs a large and diverse audience for its advertisers, the BBC needs a large and diverse audience for its license fee. By putting on more episodes of the same shows, they’re merely catering to the same audiences again. Same people watching the same adverts. Spend the money on something else – ideally a sitcom, but even just a new, fresher soap - and even if it gets a smaller audience, it’ll be a different audience – and your channel, and its adverts, will achieve a larger ‘reach’.