Advert breaks can spoil TV drama, says Alison Steadman

Advert breaks can spoil TV drama, says Alison Steadman

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There you are, watching your favourite TV drama when suddenly it cuts to an ad break. Annoyed? Well you are not alone.

Alison Steadman, the star of a range of hit shows including Gavin & Stacey, Fat Friends and the current BBC1 comedy Boomers, has said that commercials can ruin her enjoyment of a television drama.

“You have these emotional scenes and perhaps you are really involved and you get 'use this toothbrush da da da da da da' and it really jars and upsets me and you think stop it stop it stop it and then suddenly you are back into this world [of the drama],” she explained at the launch of her new BBC drama, The Secrets.

"This is no disrespect to the commercial channels but very often in the writing when you read a script... the writer is obliged to write up to the commercial break and give [the viewer] a little grab, a little hook so that they will come back." 

The actress said she could often see writers "pushing" the story in order to find these hooks just before ad breaks, and this was one of the reasons she enjoyed her most recent project, BBC1 anthology drama series The Secrets which begins airing on Sunday, obviously without commercial breaks.

Steadman stars in the first programme, a standalone half-hour drama in which she plays a terminally ill woman looking for help from her daughter played by Rev and Broadchurch star Olivia Colman. Four other self-contained dramas will run over the week.

A project like The Secrets, the actress said, allows its various writers to “write it and tell the story quietly and calmly within thirty minutes rather than writing to the commercial break.

“If you write commercial drama you get 15 minutes then the commercial break, 17 minutes and then the break and I just think a lot of times for me personally it ruins drama."

The Secrets stars on Sunday September 7. Steadman is also currently starring in the BBC1 comedy Boomers on Friday nights

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