No money, more problems: is TV drama oversaturated?

Continuing to look into the state of local television drama, Teodor Reljic discovers that while local audiences thirst for stories told in a Maltese milieu, resources may be spread too thin for us to expect a spike in quality any time soon 

Deceduti director Abigail Mallia
Deceduti director Abigail Mallia

Television producer and actor Mark Doneo recently told MaltaToday that “I can’t stomach more than five minutes of any local drama at the moment,” citing poor scriptwriting and production value.

But the programmes manager of the national broadcaster PBS and the director of the popular – and since concluded – production ‘Deceduti’ paint a more nuanced picture of the overall situation.

PBS programmes manager Reuben Zammit said that the enduring popularity of local television drama can’t be ignored – and neither can the fact that local audiences tend to choose Maltese productions over foreign ones – while ‘Deceduti’ director Abigail Mallia believes that funds should be more focussed on a select few quality dramas, rather than spread out too thin.

Confessing that there is still plenty of room for improvement as far as Maltese drama is concerned, Zammit emphasised that production value “has improved dramatically over the past five years”.

“You obviously can’t compare the local scenario with the kind of productions churned out by US and UK networks, but taking it all in context, I would say that we’ve improved quite a bit over the past few years, both in terms of storytelling and production value. Now, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement, but there’s also no denying that local drama is what our audiences go for,” Zammit said, stressing that British and American productions did not even come close to enjoying the same viewership as locally produced dramas.

“We’ve run shows like Sherlock and Merlin. You’d expect programmes of this calibre to attract a really wide audience, but the fact is that they didn’t – certainly not when compared to Maltese shows. They were even problematic when it comes to acquiring sponsorship, since even prospective sponsors know that it’s Maltese shows that are most watched…”

Read the full report in MaltaToday