STAYING ALIVE: AN EXPERT’S VIEW: Suzy Berry finds more bit than grit in this TV drama packed with critical sagas

A ’gritty drama’ is how the Observer described it; ’bitty’ would have been more appropriate. Having been elevated since the first series to the prime-time Sunday night slot, Staying Alive did nothing to live up to its up-beat, 70s disco namesake.

A ’gritty drama’ is how the Observer described it; ’bitty’ would

have been more appropriate. Having been elevated since the first series

to the prime-time Sunday night slot, Staying Alive did nothing to live

up to its up-beat, 70s disco namesake.



The writer, Neil McCay, obviously had a tick list to include every major

life crisis into the episode - from pregnancy and divorce to sacking and

potential jilting at the altar. Opening with a Dick Whittington-style

scene of a student nurse arriving in London and having her possessions

stolen, this drama oscillated from the dull to the ludicrously

unrealistic.



Sub-plot upon sub-plot did little to involve the viewer. The Freddy

Kruger-like janitor apparently felt something for the sentenced

murderer, which was more than can be said for our feelings towards the

character. We felt more for the dog who was lucky enough to get a meal

of sausages - we got the dog’s dinner.



The basic storyline would work for Casualty, but the writer has been too

ambitious with a wide variety of unconnected events that confuse and

alienate the viewer.



The result is intensely dull - the viewer is left preferring to wait

until Monday for their own version of realism.



If this is an example of the genre of ’high quality’ drama that ITV is

investing in to build audience and erode the BBC’s share of total

viewing, advertisers are going to be sadly disappointed and ITV will

continue to decline.



There again, what hope did it have after the immortal words uttered in

the first 15 minutes: ’I used to think people in advertising were only

one step up from the evolutionary sludge’?



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