TV history was made last night when the middle episode of a three part drama contained no new footage at all, but consisted entirely of a summary of the story so far and what was going to happen next.
The latest three-episode story opened a new series of the popular drama Silent but Deadly, which features maverick cop DI Sandra Long and rugged, brooding and flatulent forensic pathologist Dave Strahan.
Producer Kurt Angstrom explained: ‘We find most viewers have no idea what is going on when watching crime thrillers, but they love the music, the atmosphere, the knitwear and the unconsummated sexual tension.
‘With a detailed recap of what happened last time, many of them start to understand the plot and get much more out of it. Similarly, a full preview of the next episode makes it feel nice and familiar when they get to it, and enables them to make sense of closing plot twists that would otherwise leave them frustrated.’
Angstrom said that people in a hurry could just watch the middle episode, while others could skip it entirely and watch something interesting instead without missing a thing.
Asked if he didn’t feel he was cheating the audience by giving them only two hours of drama instead of three, he smirked and said, ‘That’s not the half of it. The second half of the first episode is a preview of the second episode, while the first half of the third episode is a condensed recap of the first two episodes, so basically we only have to provide one hour of drama.
‘With the title sequence, credits and adverts, we reckon on getting it down to 45 minutes of original material for three episodes – or less if we insert flashback sequences from previous series.’
Angstrom’s techniques are known to have been studied by Julian Fellowes, who is hoping to take them a step further with the next series of Downton Abbey, which will cover ten years of family history and be shot in a single afternoon.