Why I don't want a second series of The Night Manager
Instead of focusing on creating sequels, we should let good shows end with dignity says Radio Times TV editor Alison Graham
Hear that noise? It’s me, sighing. So The Night Manager ends this Sunday and already there’s a big din with demands for a second series. Oh no... why?
I’m surely alone in the wilderness with this, but when I’ve loved something as I’ve loved The Night Manager, something I’ve given the rare honour of watching both at work for work, and at home again with my household, I don’t want to see any more.
Similarly with Happy Valley. With a finale that ended with an incredible 7.39m viewers (a figure that will rise significantly once recording/on-demand is taken into account) and an unforgettable, wordless last shot, that’s it for me. I’m happy.
Yet Sally Wainwright, who created such a fabulous drama, was instantly prevailed upon to come up with a date for series three. More power to her, she didn’t play ball. There might be a series three; there were key elements in the final episode that could be taken further, she said. But then, there might not.
Besides, she has other things to do, such as write a drama about the Brontë sisters for BBC1 later this year. (Watch out for my interview with Wainwright in an upcoming RT.)
We are so incredibly lucky in this country to have writers like Wainwright and Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty, another case in point, the current series arrived two years after its hit predecessor) who write alone and with vision, style, care, heart and soul. It’s something every viewer who has the merest smidgeon of empathy recognises and we know people like this can’t be rushed.
I blame on-demand services, the great taps from which endless episodes of American dramas gush. It’s made some of us greedy. But we’re not America. We don’t have ever-changing teams of writers knocking out 26 episodes. We have Sally Wainwright and Jed Mercurio, taking their time, writing wonderful stories, which is absolutely fine by me.
Why can't things just be left alone? I thoroughly enjoyed the ending of The Night Manager. It wrapped things up in the most thrilling, surprising way. As a full stop to a terrific tale, it was just right. So let’s not spoil things by turning Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) into a kind of generic secret agent for The Return of the Night Manager. What would be the point? Besides, Hiddleston will probably be James Bond by then.
Similarly with Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley. Hand on heart, I want Catherine to have a rest, to spend the next three or four years subduing drunks in Hebden Bridge and rolling her eyes at her sister Claire’s love-life. (That’s what she’s doing in my head.)
Catherine can’t cope with yet another encounter with the poison bled by Tommy Lee Royce and everyone he comes into contact with and, frankly, neither can I. I love Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) and I want only the best for her.
Everyone seemed fine with the fact that Andrew Davies’s War and Peace wouldn’t return. How could it, unless Tolstoy left War and Peace: The Early Years hidden down the back of his armchair? So why can’t our current classics – The Night Manager, Happy Valley, Line of Duty – be given the same consideration?
Besides, if our great writers are busy writing series three/four/five of all of the above, where will the other terrific dramas, the dramas that aren’t The Night Manager, Happy Valley and Line of Duty going to come from? The mark of great writing, great stories and great characters is that they live on in our imaginations. Which is fine with me. Just fine.
Now show me something new.