Jed Mercurio has revealed Line Of Duty was nearly dismissed by the BBC amid fears that a series documenting police corruption “could be problematic for mainstream audiences”.
The writer, 54, has recounted how he had to fight tooth and nail to get some of his work done and says the TV executives who initially turned down the drama are now suffering from ‘selective amnesia’ and “claim this did not happen”.
Mercurio suggested there are still plenty of BBC personalities who don’t care about his work, despite Line Of Duty drawing 10.6 million viewers in its fifth series last year and its other Bodyguard show turned out to be a smash hit.
Spill the tea: Jed Mercurio gave a revealing interview about the commissioning process at the BBC and how he fought tooth and nail to get some of his work done
Speaking in an interview with Radio Times about the BBC ordering process, he said: “Perhaps there were reservations that something about police corruption could be problematic for an audience. General public. “
He added, “There is selective amnesia about things like that. Everyone, and every TV commissioner or TV director, who was involved in the rejection of Line Of Duty is now claiming that it didn’t happen.
The police drama – which follows an anti-corruption unit within the police force – aired on BBC Two in 2012, before bosses scoffed at it deserving a prime-time positioning. listen on BBC One.
Close call: Jed, 54, revealed there are many at the BBC who still don’t care about their work – despite Line Of Duty garnering 10.6 million viewers in its fifth series last year
Old Boys Club? Jed claims there is always a class issue within society – often seen as an Old Boys’ Club and described as somewhat ridiculous by the satirical comedy W1A
Mercurio said: “This is something that came to me from the theater department, trying to be constructive about it and therefore giving us hope that BBC Two could be a better home for us.
“But the point is, the controllers are not responsible.
Jed got mad at a particular BBC executive for the near miss, which almost meant the BBC’s biggest drama never came to fruition.
“This particular controller never had to justify his decision. It didn’t affect her career, that she turned down something which has become the biggest BBC One drama currently back, ”he added.
Jed insisted he was not “bitter” about it, given that he had the final say, but suggested that many BBC executives may perhaps be a little bit sour on him. and his work.
To work with stars Martin Compston and Vicky McClure [pictured], Jed added, “We all feel very lucky and privileged that Line Of Duty has lasted as long as it has.”
He also claimed officials like to sweep under the rug that they were bad talent judges.
“There is selective amnesia in things like that. Everyone, and every television commissioner or television executive, who was involved in the rejection of Line Of Duty is now claiming that it did not happen, ”he said.
“It’s not that I’m bubbling, we’re in a fantastic position and I’m certainly not bitter.
But if you consider all the other projects that have been turned down over the years, the missed opportunities, and the ones that are still being turned down, then of course it’s disappointing.
Power of the stars: Jed says BBC executives are still in doubt about his ability, despite the crime show gaining legions of fans and featuring notable debuts [such as Thandie Newton, pictured]
“You fear that something you’ve worked on and believe in will never see the light of day.
THE MOST WATCHED DRAMAS TV OF THE PAST DECADE
The list is ordered by highest rated episode.
1. Bodyguard (BBC One), 23 septembre 2018: 14,3 millions
2. Doctor Who (BBC One), 23 novembre 2013: 12,8 millions
3. Sherlock (BBC One), 1er janvier 2014: 12,7 millions
4. Downton Abbey (ITV), 6 novembre 2011, 12,5 millions
5. Line of Duty (BBC One) 5 mai 2019: 12,1 millions
All figures are consolidated ratings for television audiences.
He claims his Bodies show – which ended in 2006 – was the last time he was given attention until he featured Line Of Duty on the BBC in 2012.
While the cop show gained legions of fans, with notable guest debuts and filming a sixth series, there were doubts when it came to presenting Bodyguard.
“Between Bodies, which ended in 2005-2006, until the release of Line Of Duty in 2012, all the original series that I had created had been rejected,” he recalls.
“Right before Line Of Duty was dismissed by the BBC One controller, there was another drama, a medical drama for BBC One, to which a big star was attached. It was rejected.
Current theater chief Piers Wenger, however, defended Bodyguard, which was subsequently praised by fans around the world.
“Some people liked him on the BBC and some didn’t. It was on a razor’s edge. Piers could have stopped him because of it, ”he said.
“I am very grateful for the support I am getting from some of the people at the BBC.
“I feel a certain sense of loyalty to them and I love working with them, but there are a lot of people in the BBC who are not fans of my work, and people who I would not bring. equipment. “
Jed claims there is always a class issue within society – often seen as an Old Boys’ Club and described as somewhat ridiculous by the satirical comedy series W1A.
Another success: The current head of the theater, Piers Wenger, defended Bodyguard, which was later praised by fans around the world. [pictured is star Richard Madden]
“A lot of people involved in decision making have gone through the same kind of experience, attended the same universities, even the same school,” said Jed, who comes from a working-class family in Lancashire.
“Then you have a situation where someone like me comes from a working class background. I have not taken any creative training. I came to things from the outside.
On the current sixth season of Line Of Duty, still pending, Jed said, “We’re still discussing this. We shot for four weeks before the lockdown in the early stages of the pandemic.
“At that time, we were filming a representation of life as it was, there was no social distancing, no mask. This is clearly not the world we are in now, but what no one knows is how long we are in this fight.
Misplaced: Line Of Duty – which follows an anti-corruption unit within the police force – premiered on BBC Two in 2012, before bosses scoffed at it deserving of prime-time positioning. listen on BBC One
After working with stars Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar, Jed added, “We all feel very lucky and privileged that Line Of Duty has lasted this long.
Read all about it: the full interview can be read in this week’s Radio Times, now available
“We’ve shared the ups and downs of the series and we’re pulling in the same direction creatively. We go out for a drink and a curry together and expand on the characters’ journeys.
“I’m taking notes, and the next morning I’ll do some script reviews. Curry talks if you will.
Last year Line Of Duty earned its place in British television history as one of the five most-watched dramas of the decade.
Line Of Duty’s 90-Minute Series Finale Drew A Huge Audience Of 12.1 Million Viewers, According To Figures Released By Barb
Its enviable ranking has placed the show behind behemoths such as Bodyguard, Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Downton Abbey.
The full interview can be read in this week’s Radio Times, now available.