In a feature on forthcoming BBC scifi drama Outcasts in SFX No 205 (March 2011) Tim OgleThorpe suggests that the BBC drama department is no longer keen to for series’ finales to end on unresolved cliffhangers. Says Oglethorpe:
Interestingly, [show creator] Ben Richards says that the first series [of Outcasts] will end “on a series of cliffhangers affecting some of the key characters”, something that should – in theory – guarantee a second series.
Why? Because earlier this year Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC Drama, announced that he had had enough of series that didn’t wrap things up to the satisfaction of the viewer.
Survivors, another futuristic BBC show, is a classic case. When series two ended earlier this year – followed promptly by news that it wouldn’t be returning – Max Beesley’s character Tom Price was left high and dry in an aircraft hold, his fate unclear.
Stephenson doesn’t want any more of that cliffhanging, which surely gives Outcasts a better than average chance of returning for series two in 2012 with all those cliffhangers in the final episodes of series one.
Oglethorpe’s logic seems faulty – rather than feeling compelled to renew Outcasts simply because series one of the show ends with (now ‘unwanted’) cliffhangers, BBC Drama could just as easily be irritated by the fact that the producers of Outcasts are continuing to use cliffhangers as renewal leverage. More significantly, it’s also not clear that Oglethorpe has read Stephenson’s comments accurately. In a speech to the BBC Drama Autumn/Winter 2010/11 launch, for example, Stephenson celebrates one-off, short-run and single author drama – but offers no criticism of the ‘hook’ of series’ finale cliffhangers.