The end for
Rosemary & Thyme?


Keep your fingers crossed!
ITV2 broadcast a Rosemary & Thyme weekend, for the majority of the weekend 24/25 February 2007.
Let's hope this sparks enough viewer interest to bring the programme back...


From ITV's teletext, 11pm May 12th 2006:

Detective drama Rosemary And Thyme has been axed.
ITV boss Simon Shapps said "we are undertaking a painful but utterly necessary process.
"We will drop programmes which by the criteria of most of our competitors are still performing incredibly well. Why? Because we know that volume without value is no longer enough."
ITV show Rosemary And Thyme, starring Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendal, has been axed after three series.
Boss Simon Shapps said the light-hearted detective show had to go as part of a drive to reinvigorate ITV.
He said "We want more value in terms of viewer engagement, value in terms of audience profile, value in terms of word of mouth and the perception of the channel."


ITV, it seems, are dropping programmes that by the criteria of most of their competitors are still performing incredibly well. Why? I guess because they are stupid!

It's all well and good to want to reinvigorate the channel - but don't they bother to read viewer's comments on the teletext service? People are, generally, fed up of repeats of the bull that was prevalent in the late '70s and early '80s, including numerous programmes that seem to make an art out of being racist. Furthermore, many people are fed up of a constant stream of obscenities all in the name of 'realism'.

Rosemary & Thyme offered none of this. There was very little violence. There was very little blood. I don't recall hearing one swear word. It tended to treat us viewers like we had a bit of intelligence.
In short, it was something I could sit down with my mother and watch - God knows that mom-friendly programmes are few and far between.
Thus it seems fairly clear to me that it is a programme that ITV would want to get rid of. Perhaps to replace with some "all new" reality TV programming.

ITV wants more in terms of viewer engagement. Well, they're in danger of losing me. I will look to ITV if the movies sound nice (the break for the news is not a problem, it is just long enough to cook a pizza), but I will be very very wary of getting attached to any good series in case some twit decides to cancel it in order to make the channel 'better'.

ITV wants more in terms of audience profile. To a certain degree they are responsible for their own problem. After all, without a viewing card, I have the pick of twelve or so reasonable channels on satellite. There are numerous channels on digital terrestrial. Gone are the days of BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, C4 and sometimes C5. ITV alone offers three-and-a-half mainstream channels, plus a children's channel.

Let's examine this in a bit more detail, for Saturday 13th May 2006:
        8.00pm    8.30pm    9.00pm    9.30pm    10.00pm
BBC 1   Nati..  Casualty    Strictly... BBCNews The Hunted--
BBC 2   Life on Air  QI     The English Patient-------------
BBC 3   ...  Grownups  The Apprentice    High Fidelity------
BBC 4   ...  Machine Men... A for Andromeda-----------------
ITV 1   ... Who Wants To... Denis Norden's...   The In-Laws-
ITV 2   Nanny 911    Planet You've Got Mail-----------------
ITV 3   McCloud Rising Damp Rio Bravo-----------------------
ITV 4   Greg... Greg... The Big Fight Live------------------
THC     Ghost St. Ghost St. Return of the Living Dead III---
True    Silent... A Case For Life--------------------- In...
Mov4Men What A Carve Up Hol.. price-drop tv-----------------
ActMax  price-drop tv       Don't Look Down-----------------
My choice out of this lot? Casualty followed by You've Got Mail (as I missed it last time it was shown).

It doesn't matter what I choose to watch. Point is, there are plenty of good things on. I'd like to watch High Fidelity, but it clashes. If you look, there are six-odd films to choose from tonight. And no, they're not all on ITV.
Later: As it happens, bad reception knocked out ITV2 so I watched High Fidelity after all!

With a viewing card, such as a Sky subscription, the programming available is mind-blowing, I wouldn't doubt it'd take me a several years to watch everything that is broadcast in any 24 hour period!

Perhaps ITV's best hope for reinvigoration is to find out what viewers actually enjoy watching, to source or make those sorts of programmes, and to do it well. There is no "quick fix" for getting better ratings. You have to work at it, to spend time and money on making good content. And to realise that, with the plethora of channels available, ratings will be lower 'than the old days' simply due to the dispersion among the options available.

Calm, gentle, inoffensive, intelligent programming - such as Rosemary & Thyme - is obviously grossly undervalued.

This leads us to the word of mouth and viewer perception that ITV is looking for. I guess in a way I am writing as "annoyed from Bristol" might have written, though I do feel in this case that there is a valid point to make here. I really liked the series "American Gothic", and I was upset when it was cancelled, but I did understand that many people simply didn't understand it. In this respect, Rosemary & Thyme is very different. It is pretty straightforward what is happening. While there is a back-story running through the series, each episode stands as a separate mystery to be solved (excepting double episodes, obviously) and these can be watched on their own, pretty much in any order. It isn't one of the type of series where if you miss an episode, you won't understand much of what follows. And this, they want to cancel.

My perception of ITV? I think it's pretty clear how I feel about the ITV brand!


Let's put it another way. When I lived in England I had to pay the TV licence. My mother threw out her television in the early '90s because what was available on terrestrial analogue was, in her opinion, not worth the licence and - in many cases - just plain offensive. I think stumbling across EuroTrash on C4 one night was pretty much the final nail in the coffin!

Since then, there have only been four programmes that my mother would make time for. I'll list them:

  1. The Brother Cadfael series
  2. American Gothic
  3. Due South
  4. Rosemary & Thyme
You'll notice, if you pay attention to the schedules, that 75% of these are programmes that have been shown on ITV (and, quite likely these three all are or recently have been broadcast on ITV). You'll also notice a trend among these programmes.



In closing, I am not going to make any recommendations for programmes more deserving of the axe because my preferences may not equal those of the rest of the world. I think a responsible broadcaster should get rid of programmes that people complain about, or attract unusually low viewing figures, or are repeated more often than is warranted.
Sadly, we're up against a viewing public which seems to be 10% intelligent sane people and 90% clueless dumbasses - the viewing figures for the Big Brother antics speak volumes, and sadly if this crap is what pulls the viewers, it is what broadcasters will look to produce. They are a business after all!

Instead of suggestions, I will simply ask if they could look at their schedules and all of the repeats and doubled programmes and take a good long think about it.
Is getting rid of one of their few really good programmes the right thing to do? As mentioned before, Rosemary & Thyme was not violent or obscene. Nobody met their maker with blood soaking the room. Nobody swore every other word, in fact nobody swore ever. And they never used clever CGI or gun-toting action overload to cover up a horribly weak plot. You know, that's actually why we viewers liked it!

Come on Mr. Shapps, give it another lease of life. Because in getting rid of the good things about ITV, you could end up doing a lot more damage than good...
...and, really, we don't need ITV killing off one of the few good programmes on TV while the BBC is busy trying to shoot itself in the foot!



On ITV's teletext TV thoughts page (p143) on July 10th 2006, a letter said:

What happens when ITV1 goes to ads before the end of the world cup final? Yep, millions switch immediately to BBC1 and stay there. ITV bosses are thick. DP, Camberwell
Need I say more?


The Internet can provide many opportunities for fans to try to show programme makers the error of their ways. By allowing the people to have a voice, an opinion. By letting broadcasters know that while they may make money from the fairly inexpensive programming of a bunch of people in a house/jungle/island/etc, there are some viewers who want a little intelligence in a programme. A little bit of humour. In short, something worth watching.
Calls by fans brought the 'axed' Due South back for another series. More recently Supernatural was brought back from the dead. Maybe together we can do the same for Rosemary & Thyme? It's worth a try, isn't it?
To this end, another fan of the programme has set up a site and is looking for help on how to convince ITV that cancelling the programme was not one of their brighter ideas.
Please help, let's try to make this happen...


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Copyright © 2007 Richard Murray