Tuesday, 25 February 2014

HELIX pulled off-air by Channel 5

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Syfy's contagion drama Helix hasn't attracted many viewers in the UK, where the show airs Monday nights on Channel 5. Or rather, did air on Monday nights. It's now been unceremoniously yanked off-air (mid-season) to return "later in the year", demoted to lowly digital channel 5*.

Speaking to Digital Spy, a Channel 5 spokesperson explained it's their "… mission to bring fresh, dynamic content to viewers, not all our shows will succeed, and when shows under-perform then as a commercial channel we have to take action. The shows which we have parted ways with in the past few months have not performed as expected, and so we have had to do exactly that."

The under-performing shows mentioned include Justified, The Walking Dead, and Once Upon a Time. Bizarrely, all three are either massive hits in the US, or enjoy great critical acclaim... yet none of that has translated to success for Channel 5 in the UK. I think The Walking Dead's failure is more understandable (fans either watch the UK premiere on Fox, or download it, months before Channel 5's own broadcast), while FX's superb Justified has never really been promoted and airs on backwater sister channel 5USA.

A bigger problem is one of perception from most Brits. Channel 5's the youngest terrestrial network and has never shaken its cheap-n'-cheerful reputation. You almost don't expect the channel to have quality shows, so the occasional gems get overlooked. Things have improved a great deal over the years for Channel 5, don't get me wrong, but I don't watch it for anything other than Big Brother and, well, The Gadget Show sometimes.

Still, look on the bright side: Under the Dome, CSI and Person of Interest have proven to be more popular than Walking Dead and Justified for Channel 5, so they're safe. It's a bizarre world!