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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Channel 4 Cancels Utopia

Today Den of Geek broke the news that Channel 4 won't be recommissioning Dennis Kelly's sublime Utopia for a third series.

A representative for the channel was quoted as saying, ""Utopia is truly channel-defining: strikingly original, powered by Dennis Kelly's extraordinary voice and brought to life in all its technicolor glory through Marc Munden's undeniable creative flair and vision. It's always painful to say goodbye to shows we love, but it's a necessary part of being able to commission new drama, a raft of which are launching on the channel throughout 2015."

The second series of the fantasy thriller struggled to garner a strong audience when it aired earlier this year. I believe that part of the reason for this lack of viewers is due to Channel 4's scheduling of the drama during the sport-filled summer months. Series one, which aired in January 2013, fared much better and maintained a steady viewing figure throughout its six episodes.

Whilst I can understand a channel cancelling a programme that they believe is under-performing I think that Utopia was such an original drama that it could go on for at least another series. At the BAFTA launch for the second series, Kelly claimed that he would like Utopia to be a long-running drama series and that he already had ideas for what would happen next.

The fact that series two ended on such a cliffhanger made me feel that Kelly and Channel 4 had already reached some sort of agreement on a third series. Unfortunately that's not the case and now fans like myself are left in limbo wondering what happened to Jessica, Ian, Becky and Arby.

My one hope is that Utopia gets picked up by an online service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime who often provide a lifeline to shows that have been cancelled before they've come to a natural conclusion. At the same time I don't know if Utopia has the same audience as Ripper Street which was revived thanks in part to an online petition.

Although I do think that British TV drama is currently very healthy it's a shame that we can't hold on to a unique programme like Utopia in the same way that we do a lot of repetitive police procedurals. But if Utopia has taught us one thing it is that we should always be wary of men in bright yellow suits especially if they're carrying a spoon.

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