Where Has All the British Sci-Fi Gone?

By October 21, 2016


Science-fiction ain’t what it used to be in the United Kingdom. Oh wait, we’re wrong. It is like what it used to be – in the days before BBC resurrected Doctor Who in 2005.

While geek culture is exploding on every channel and streaming device in America, it’s not the same across the pond where the days of time travel, dystopian futures and even dinosaurs are now getting the cold shoulder from television executives.

Howard Overman, whose demon butt-kicking series Crazyhead debuted this week on United Kingdom’s E4 (and later on Netflix around the rest of the world), told Digital Spy even The Doctor can’t find genre shows hiding anywhere in Britain.

“Russell T. Davies, when he reimagined Doctor Who, sort of opened the doors. I think it suddenly opened people’s eyes, because it was a success and you had a whole raft of them for a while.

“It’s harder again now – because you’ve got less channels doing it, and also young people don’t watch as much television. Young people make up a significant proportion of the potential audience for this sort of show, and you’re competing with Facebook, social media, the Internet, Netflix … a huge diversity of channels.”

But with all due respect to Overman, American audiences have the same issues, yet the red white and blue is “teeming” with shows in the genre. So something has had an effect on the United Kingdom, and it seems no one can quite put their finger on it.

BBC Three, the channel that used to be home to a number of programs like Being Human and the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood has pretty much stepped out of the drama game, Overman said. The lone exception is a new Doctor Who spin-off, Class, which debuts this weekend.

And E4, a subsidiary of Channel Four Entertainment, has Crazyhead. Starring Cara Theobold and Susan Wokoma, a pair of 20-somethings decide to take the underworld on head-on.

The six-episode series continues through November on E4, and will reach international audiences in early 2017.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.