Utopia wins International Emmy – despite Channel 4 turning down Christmas finale
James R | On 25, Nov 2014
Utopia won an International Emmy last night for Best Drama, just after it emerged that Channel 4 had turned down the offer to make a Christmas finale.
The series, written by Dennis Kelly, is without a doubt one of the best TV programmes of recent years, dealing with dark, important topics in a unique style and with a gripping script. The news that the show had been cancelled by Channel 4 after a stunning second season was, therefore, a huge disappointment to fans – including us. (Read our article on why it’s worth saving Utopia here.)
Kelly has now spoken out about the cancellation to The Independent.
“I think we all knew it was coming,” he told the newspaper, while promoting his new film, submarine thriller Black Sea. “The people who liked it really liked it, but the ratings were just bad. I don’t know why. I think going out in the summer didn’t help.”
While ratings might have been low, though, the show has already gained international recognition, with David Fincher in the director’s chair for a remake with HBO. (When those names collide, you know a series is highly regarded.)
Now, Utopia was an International Emmy to boot. The programme was one of three British series to win awards at the ceremony in America last night. Utopia beat Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel to Best Drama Series, although Sky’s show picked up Best Actor for Stephen Dillane, while Educating Yorkshire was awarded Best Documentary Series.
“We really didn’t expect to win this,” Kelly said in his acceptance speech.
“Utopia is a dirty, nasty dark twisted little bastard of a programme that shouldn’t really be put in front of any decent God-fearing people.”
He added: “We’re very, very proud of it.”
Perhaps that’s the problem in a nutshell.
“It was a risky show to do,” admitted Kelly to The Independent.
And yet that is exactly why the series is so important: it tackles subjects that many programmes wouldn’t go near with a bargepole.
“It’s gutting not being able to finish the story,” Kelly continued.
That is not for want of trying, though. Kelly revealed that they wanted to make a one-off finale – just the thing for family viewing at Christmas – but were denied.
“We did want to do a special. We said to [Channel 4], ‘I could finish it off with a two-hour special,’ but they weren’t going for it.”
“It was ahead of its time and that’s how culture works,” argued Kevin Macdonald, director of Black Sea. “What’s original isn’t instantly popular because it’s different. They’ll be buying the box set by 2027.”
Meanwhile, others continue to hope for a revival of sorts, a la Arrested Development or Ripper Street, from a VOD site. After all, Netflix is no stranger to Emmy award winners…
Curious about Utopia? Read our spoiler-free review of Season 1 here.