Former Prime Minister David Cameron requested Tina Fey's help to fix the UK TV industry. As one of the most successful and inspiring female celebrities working today, Fey has managed to maintain a firm creative grasp on almost everything she’s been involved with, rising from the ranks of SNL to become one of Hollywood’s most renowned showrunners.
Fey’s career really went to the next level around 2006, when the SNL star and head writer began to prove that her brand of irreverent humor could work for more than just sketch comedy. As executive producer, writer, and actress on 30 Rock, Fey took the series (which she also created) to a level of critical and commercial success that few had expected. Today, the series is ranked by many as one of the best American sitcoms of all time, and Fey continues to find success in both TV and film. It’s arguable that her greatest period of creativity to date took place in the decade between 2006 and 2016 - a time that also spanned the majority of former United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron’s term.
Though Fey and Cameron might seem to be polar opposites with completely different political stances, writer Hannah George has pointed out via her Twitter account that while listening to a podcast in which Fey is interviewed by Doctor Who star David Tennant, a strange link between Fey and Cameron was revealed. According to Fey, back in 2006, Cameron asked to meet her in New York, hoping that she would agree to come to London and convince the British TV industry to switch up its standard format of six episodes per TV series to something more substantial. Check out the tweet below:
Just listening to David Tennant’s podcast with Tina Fey and she tells a story about how David Cameron asked to meet her in New York and wanted her to come to the UK to convince the British TV industry that we need to make more than 6 episodes a series. What the what?! #bizarre pic.twitter.com/UHpOyoVnSc— Hannah George (@HannahMGeorge) April 19, 2019
The UK’s six episode per series format has consistently been part of UK programming. Whereas the American format typically sees a vast number of episodes crammed into a single season, the UK system is more restrained, with both the number of episodes and seasons for even the most popular sitcoms remaining somewhat small. For example, the highly successful sitcom The Office, which originated in the UK courtesy of comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, released two seasons of six episodes each, with a 95-minute long episode split into two for the series finale. Its American counterpart, by comparison, ran from 2005-2013, and produced 188 episodes during this time. The smaller episode order can be both a blessing and curse, though in this instance, it appears that Cameron found it to be very much the latter.
It’s strange to consider that as Prime Minister, Cameron was concerning himself with the number of episodes created for British television. The UK’s episodic system can indeed be frustrating, but the idea of less-is-more often provides a series with intrigue, making each episode more of an event. It’s certainly not for everyone, but given the number of highly successful UK programs that have also found success adapted onto American TV, it’s not affecting the overall quality in any way.
Source: Hannah George