RTS Cambridge Convention: UK broadcasters are in danger of losing more top talent to Netflix and Amazon because they are too interfering during the making of shows, according to Andy Harries, executive producer of The Crown.

Harries noted that broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV “continue to try to tell you how to make the very show you sold in”.

By contrast, he said that streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have a “much more refreshing, much simpler, much more dramatically direct and less interfering approach – and that is the future. There is no question of that.”

Speaking at the RTS Cambridge Convention, the Left Bank Pictures chief exec said that the SVoD players “fundamentally challenge the working practices that have been established in the UK, and have got worse and worse over the last few years in terms of the interface between producers and commissioning editors and script editors and God knows what else.”

Harries noted that over the past few weeks Netflix had signed up leading talent such as Shonda Rhimes, David Letterman and the Coen brothers to make shows for its service.

“They are attracting all this talent because this is what they are saying to them: ‘Come and make stuff for us. You can do it the way you want to do it. We are going to finance it, you make it.’ And that is what talent wants.”

Harries added: “At the end of the day, the biggest challenge to other broadcasters – whether they be terrestrial or otherwise – is that talent is going to start swinging increasingly over to places where they can do what they want to do. “

Harries reflected on his experience of making Netflix’s The Crown, which airs its second season later this year.

“They read the scripts ahead of time. They called us up – not [writer] Peter Morgan directly – they called up [exec producer] Suzanne [Mackie] or I and had a natter about their thoughts on it, but that is pretty much about it. They were just reacting to it in a very mild way; they didn’t send detailed notes. There is never four page of notes, nothing at all.”

His point was backed up by fellow speaker Andy Wilman, the exec producer of Amazon’s The Grand Tour. Wilman said: “We have no notes – none. We have no notes on a film, not anything like that.”

Harries added: “This is why the BBC and ITV are going to be increasingly under pressure, because talent want to make shows they want to make in a way they want to make them. And by and large Netflix has proven that that has on the whole done very well.”

Tim Dams

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