Red Dwarf and The Bill ‘aid success of UKTV Play streaming service'

Richard Watsham, director of commissioning at UKTV, also said that the company had opted to steer clear of programmes inspired by coronavirus.

UKTV Play has had “some of its best days” in recent weeks thanks to Red Dwarf and The Bill, according to a boss at the company which runs the streaming service.

Richard Watsham, director of commissioning at UKTV, said in an online interview as part of the Edinburgh Television Festival that the two programmes had been a hit with audiences on the platform.

A new special episode of comedy sci-fi Red Dwarf was made available UKTV Play after it was broadcast on Dave last month.

Craig Charles interview
Red Dwarf stars Craig Charles (Ian West/PA)

Early series of police drama The Bill have also been added to the streaming service.

Watsham said: “UKTV Play has had some of its best days in the last month or so.”

He added that “the Red Dwarf feature-length show that we did drove what at the time was probably one of the top five ever days on UKTV Play”.

He added: “We have now got The Bill up there again starting from the very beginning and that’s now driven one of our top days.”

He added that the service is “growing all the time”.

The Bill
Early series of The Bill, which featured Trudie Goodwin, are being made available on the streaming service (UKTV Play/PA)

He added that UKTV, which runs channels including Dave and Yesterday, had decided against commissioning new programmes that are inspired by the lockdown as he thinks that people are more interested in “escapism”.

He added:”Obviously we are all experiencing this for ourselves and yes, a new normal might have kind of descended a little bit, but there’s still some really difficult aspects of this and it is challenging for people at home.

“And we look at that editorially and think about how we want our content to reflect either that or a different kind of reality.

“I think for us it felt more important to focus on escapism.”

He added that it is “very hard to focus on escapism if you’re going to tackle coronavirus as a subject or to show things in a way that feels heavily impacted by Covid-19”.

Watsham added: “And I think from my point of view, just as an individual, having worked through the day on Zoom and understanding how our lives have changed individually, do I then want to turn on the TV at 7 o’clock in the evening after work and get a whole load more of a reminder about the situation we are in?

“I don’t really.”

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