TV’s silly season has arrived

“The schedules are starting to scream: 'We know you are all out in the sun or on holiday, so we won't try too hard,'” says Mark Jefferies

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Is there anyone out there who HASN’T seen the film Notting Hill?

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I only ask because it is on again on ITV on Friday night at 10:35pm for what feels like the hundredth time.

There is nothing wrong with the movie, but what it represents is the first signs of TV bosses holding back the best stuff when it comes to a lot of the summer schedules.

Yes, the BBC’s hit drama Luther is back, but each episode of that is being shown twice a week to pad things out.

A new series of Top Gear started last weekend and ITV have a couple of shiny floor shows in Your Face Sounds Familiar and Family Fortunes, but both of those are very cheap to make.

In truth, we are several weeks from the start of the school holidays and chunks of the schedules are starting to scream: “We know you are all out in the sun or on holiday, so we won’t try too hard for big ratings.”

In newspapers, once the House of Commons is adjourned for summer recess later this month it is known as the ‘silly season’, and TV now seems to have it’s own version in the coming weekends.

If Andy Murray makes the Wimbledon final on Sunday, that could command a huge audience, but there is not much else on the horizon for the rest of July.

BBC1 are showing repeats of Sherlock on Friday nights beginning this week. It is brilliant TV, but most people have watched it and it is still being given a prime time slot from 8:30pm.

Pointless Celebrities is another repeat on Saturday night along with Mrs Brown’s Boys.

BBC2 is no different, with QI repeats and on Sunday there is Blackadder and Mock the Week being re-aired.

Over on ITV, you have the aforementioned Notting Hill as well as Mamma Mia! and Hot Fuzz to take up hours and hours of airtime. Other repeats are on their way with the likes of drama Doc Martin getting a second showing.

Channel 4, which is well known for huge volumes of Come Dine With Me repeats, devotes two-and-a-half hours to that show on Saturday and is then relying on old films and lengthy new episodes of Million Pound Drop Live.

I really like that gameshow with Davina McCall, but even I am not sure I want to watch it for an hour and 40 minutes in one go. And definitely not on both Friday and Saturday night.

Throw in some old Grand Design episodes, which most people interested will have seen, and the TV schedules are not exactly at their most exciting.

Personally, I think good series’ at weekends, especially in a slot around 9pm, can still command huge ratings in summer, it is just a risk channel controllers are not willing to take.

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So my advice is to do what TV bosses seem to be telling you, and enjoy the sun when you can until late August, when things will be back to normal and big dramas and shows like Strictly Come Dancing, and X Factor will be back on the box all weekend. 
 
Mark Jefferies is Deputy TV and Showbiz editor at the Daily Mirror