British TV has too many serial killers says top scriptwriter Andrew Davies

Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House and Mr Selfridge writer bemoans TV's obsession with grisly murders at today's Broadcasting Press Guild Awards and says we need "more human heart stuff"

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British TV has too many serial killers says top scriptwriter Andrew Davies
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Ben Dowell

He was once known as TV’s Mr Sex for his racy adaptations of period classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Fanny Hill for the BBC.

But now scriptwriter Andrew Davies has said that TV drama needs to calm down a bit: there are, he believes, too many dead bodies and serial killers on the small screen.

Collecting his lifetime achievement prize at today’s Broadcasting Press Guild awards, the writer laid into the current vogue for grisly drama.

“Why is it always genre now, didn’t there used to be a section called drama? Does it all have to be…serial killers?,” he said after collecting the Harvey Lee award for an outstanding contribution to broadcasting.

Adding that “there is a corpse in every episode” of many dramas he joked: “I don’t think people should be allowed to write serial killer drama until they have killed at least three people themselves. Let’s have more human heart stuff without killers.”

Davies did not specify which shows he was referring to, but it seems that he has in mind shows such as the acclaimed The Fall which chronicled the grisly killings of a Northern Irish killer played by Jamie Dornan.

Davies was given the prize for his work on more BPG award-winning programmes than anyone else in the Guild's 40-year history.

These include the adaptations of House of Cards, Pride & Prejudice and Bleak House.

Also honoured today was the ITV drama Broadchurch with writer Chris Chibnall and actress Olivia Colman both picking up awards today.

Chibnall won the BPG writer award while Colman was named best actress for her role as DS Ellie Miller in the hit show at today’s ceremony at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Other winners included Chiwetel Ejiofor, BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee for Twelve Years A Slave, who won the BPG's best actor award for his role as Louis Lester in BBC2's Dancing on the Edge. His award was picked up by the drama's writer Stephen Poliakoff.

Jamie Dornan was also honoured, picking up the breakthrough award for his role on The Fall.

Dornan is currently filming the second series but filmed an acceptance speech in which he said: "This means a lot to me. The Fall is the best thing that has ever happened to me."

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