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‘Downton Abbey’ Commercial Controversy: ITV Writer Anthony Horowitz Blames TV Ads For Ruining TV Dramas While Julian Fellowes Defends Show

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Downton Abbey
(Photo : Downton Abbey) Are commercials ruining "Downton Abbey"?

ITV writer Anthony Horowitz has spoken out to slam the recent rise in TV ads, blaming commercials for ruining TV dramas like “Downton Abbey.” However, “Downton” creator Julian Fellowes has defended his show from the controversy.

Horowitz, a writer for hit TV dramas including “Midsomer Murders” and “Foyle’s War,” told the Independent that the number of commercials frustrates viewers and changes the way TV dramas are written.

“It is absolutely terrible the way television is chopped into so many little bits," he said. "The story has to be designed to work around that."

Horowitz added that he even added extra murders into “Midsomer Murders” to keep viewers watching.

"Whenever there was a commercial break I would kill somebody, and there were so many breaks it was a bit of a bloodbath," he said. "After 14 episodes I realised there was no one left."

MORE: Should 'Downton' Air At The Same Time In the US and the UK?

“Downton Abbey” has received criticism for running too many ads, earning the nickname “Downton Addy” when the Season 4 premiere featured 23 minutes of commercials between 67 minutes of the show.

However, “Downton” creator Julian Fellowes defended his series.

"Unfortunately, not every channel is given trillions in taxpayers' money," he said. “It's true that ads interrupt Downton Abbey, but they also pay for it. One has to be philosophical about these things.”

Fellowes also said that the ads don’t affect “Downton’s” narrative.

"They don't say an ad break has got to happen now… [and] they can be varied a bit to suit the narrative,” he said.

The Guardian writes that the controversy springs from recent changes in British TV legislation: three years ago, Ofcom changed its rules to allow 12 minutes of commercials per hour, compared to the previous 7 minutes.

"I do sympathize with the view that advert breaks are annoying but unfortunately that is just the nature of the beast. Without adverts, ITV would not be able to fund its dramas in the first place, so they are sadly necessary,” Mediawatch UK head Vivienne Pattison said.

“If people aren't carping about the BBC licence fee, they're moaning about ads on commercial channels. You can't have it both ways.”

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Reporter's Photo Jun 05, 2014 12:50 PM EDT

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