0 3 mins 11 yrs

Is a primetime battle really necessary?


TV channels love a good ratings battle – as long as they come out on top. But has the BBC made an audacious decision to pitch new six-part series, By Any Means against the mighty Downton Abbey? Or have they already relegated the Tony Jordan series about a clandestine police department catching the ones that got away. (much like Jordan’s previous hit Hustle) to the “second series unlikely” pile.

Of course it’s not the first ratings war and it most certainly won’t be the last. X-Factor and Strictly have had their squabbles. Even Spooks final series in 2011, after ten years of being a mid-week hit was pitched against Downton – much to critics and viewers confusion. On the plus side, Spooks at least had a loyal fan base to give it a fighting chance in its retirement, unlike By Any Means. However, 10 million viewers was always going to be an uphill struggle – unless you’re Call The Midwife that is.

But let’s be honest, does it really matter? It does to the commissioners, the cast and crew who worked hard to bring it to the screen. But to us, the audience, we have the iPlayer, ITV Player, and dvr’s. So why do we all react when we find out another series faces Downton in the ratings?


To be fair to Downton, By Any Means is unlikely to rival the series anyway. Unfortunately for the cast it’s no Luther or Doctor Who. It’s an easy watch that tries to be clever but fails in the execution. However, the series has only just begun and it may yet grow in story or improve with some tweaking of the scripts if it does receive a second series commission.

Although I’m aware of the hypocrisy in me writing this article, seen as if I had to choose (which we do), I would probably choose Downton Abbey. I know I can watch it in numerous ways (as listed above), but it is frustrating for viewers If you would like the choice to watch live, without that meaning you have to pick a favourite. I want to be able to have the chance to experience a good drama at the same time as everybody else and see the fun comments and banter on twitter; After all, Broadchurch proved what social media can do to elevate a new drama.

So even though it may be futile and By Any Means isn’t appearing all that cop yet (pun intended), it would be nice dear schedulers if for once viewers didn’t have to choose what will be “Death by Downton” each year.