I want my TV once a week or all at once!

'Stripping' dramas like Jamaica Inn over consecutive days doesn't please the bingers OR fans of delayed gratification, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

The way we watch TV is changing.


As well as tuning in every week to keep up with our favourite dramas, we watch series all in one go, or the next day on catch up. Sometimes while we are on the train, or the bus… or a tram(?). 

But stripping one drama on a main channel over consecutive days? I just don’t get it. 

This week, BBC1’s much-anticipated three-part Daphne du Maurier adaptation Jamaica Inn, has been scheduled to run over three successive evenings. And personally, I think it’s a bit of a waste.

Why make a lavish, star-studded adaptation and then blow it all in one go?

Run it over three weeks and you get three week’s worth of hype, three week’s worth of publicity and three week’s worth of conversations both on Twitter and around the actual and metaphorical water coolers. 

I know we can be an impatient, greedy and demanding lot. And I understand the desire to inhale as much of a drama as is humanly possible as quickly as possible – I have spent many an hour rooted to the spot as one episode of The Good Wife rolls on into another – but if I’m going to watch a drama all in one go I want to watch the next episode RIGHT after the previous one has finished. Not at the same time 24 hours later. 

I suppose airing instalments close together keeps up a show’s momentum, but I wouldn’t say series’ like Downton Abbey or Call the Midwife suffer from their weekly slots. If anything the seven day wait builds up anticipation and air of excitement around the dramas. 

And unless you’re willing to clear your diary – or battle with your flatmates/children/stubborn other half – to make sure you don’t miss a single nightly instalment, you’re more likely to get behind. And less likely to catch up, as the programme will drop off iPlayer sooner than it would it if it aired over three weeks. 

So, really, stripping a drama on consecutive nights is a lose/lose. It doesn’t please the bingers, or those fans of delayed gratification. 

And, in the case of Jamaica Inn, it would have given the BBC a whole lot more time to sort out those pesky sound complaints… 

Jamaica Inn concludes tonight at 9:00pm on BBC1.