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Forget Succession: what we want is more feel-good classics

Giving the people what they want: Channel 5’s All Creatures Great and Small

Earlier this month, the comedy-drama series Doc Martin began its 10th and final run, says Ben Lawrence in The Daily Telegraph. Sure, it seems fusty: the show stars Martin Clunes as a cantankerous GP who does little more than assist the injury-prone residents of Cornwall’s Port Isaac. And yet more than three million of us tuned in. Compare that to Succession, the much-lauded drama about a nasty media dynasty. The first episode of the latest series pulled in a measly 1.4 million viewers in America – “less than half of what Doc Martin achieved on our tiny island”.

And yet there’s an endless supply of these erudite dramas springing up in place of feel-good classics. TV executives drool over anything edgy and sophisticated – the likes of Mad Men and The Wire – but only “once in a blue moon” are these shows any good. Mostly they’re expensive to produce, hard to follow, and substitute aesthetics for an actual plot: watching is like “talking to someone at a party who says they love Nietzsche but can’t remember a single word”. Faced with a bleak winter, we’re desperate for comforting fare: documentaries starring Pam Ayres traipsing around the Cotswolds, and reruns of All Creatures Great and Small. Bosses are too concerned about their work appealing to “a few people in Islington”. They’d do better seeking out a worthy successor to Doc Martin. “It’s what the people want.”