David Renwick criticises meddling ITV executives
David Renwick, the prolific comedy writer behind hits including Love Soup, 1990s classic One Foot In The Grave and Jonathan Creek, has slammed the meddling of executives in the TV development process.
Renwick said yesterday that he had "walked off" Ergo, a project commissioned by ITV Studios, when executives at the TV network began meddling with the concept too much, leading to significant "creative differences".
Scripts had been completed for the 6 x 60 minute series with Robert Webb due to star as the male lead, but after Renwick left the project, ITV's Director of Television, Peter Fincham, cancelled the show completely.
"It was about a man who went back to the family home after his father had died and there were interesting possibilities, but ITV came unstuck. They wanted to concentrate more on the old father and the back-story. I believe audiences relate to the characters they see on screen and I didn't want too many flashback elements," Renwick said.
Under his own plans, the series would have seen Webb's character move into the home and live alongside his father's widow - a woman his own age. Co-star of Jonathan Creek and Love Soup, Sheridan Smith, was likely to have taken on that female lead role.
Trade publication Broadcast reports Renwick remarking: "ITV Studios were really keen for this - this was their commission. I felt I would not be doing my job properly if there was not comedy there. It was very frustrating...but I decided to move on."
Following the fall-out over the direction of the series, David Renwick explained that he had offered to sell the scripts for another writer to take over and flesh out more of the show they wanted, but "Peter Fincham pulled the plug altogether. I called their bluff and they just pulled it. It won't be coming back."
He also admitted that it may have been a "mistake" to pursue the project under ITV's drama department, although the broadcaster has almost no comedy unit at present, and expressed relief to be returning to Jonathan Creek as it was an existing, successful format that increasingly "prescriptive" commissioners and executives "can't change".
A spokeswoman for ITV told Broadcast: "ITV were keen to work with David Renwick on Ergo but when it became clear that we had different views on the direction of the series we agreed to part company."
As reported yesterday, the BBC has commissioned a brand new 3-part series of hit comedy mystery series Jonathan Creek, following management approval of a one-off special due to air this Easter. The first series for a decade, it is expected to broadcast early next year.
Just two episodes into its first series, Channel 4 has recommissioned Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney's sitcom Catastrophe.
Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse are reportedly collaborating with the BBC to make a special to celebrate 25 years of their comedy partnership.
The first series of revived sitcom Still Open All Hours came to a close last night with a peak of over 8 million viewers.
The results of the ninth annual Comedy.co.uk Awards have been announced, with Cabin Pressure writer John Finnemore the biggest winner of the year.
ITV2 has ordered a brand new panel show focussed on the world of reality television, to be hosted by Stephen Mulhern with team captains Emma Willis and Joel Dommett.
The BBC has announced a set of 9 new iPlayer comedy programmes to mark Valentine's Day 2015. Contributors include Sara Pascoe, Roy Clarke, Nick Helm, Modern Toss and Bill Bailey.
A preview of 'Goodbye - The (After) Life of Cook & Moore', the comic play about Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Read
BCG chats to Count Arthur Strong. Somehow he gets the impression we've booked him for Just A Minute. Read