Zen from Left Bank Pictures not recommissioned by the BBC

Both Broadcast and Media Guardian reported today that the BBC has decided not to recommission its Zen TV series following what appeared to be a successful launch in January.  Broadcast reported:

…Producer Andy Harries has approached a number of groups after channel controller Danny Cohen and head of drama Ben Stephenson declined to order any further series following a pitch last week…

…Zen, which starred Rufus Sewell as the eponymous detective, had averaged roughly 5.7m viewers across three episodes during its run at the start of this year. It is understood to have garnered relatively high audience appreciation, with an AI of 87…

Aureliozen_rufus I’d admit to difficulty with the first episode when it aired, but by the third episode I loved it and was hooked; I now have the DVD.  It’s a classy production and an example of TV drama at its best.

It’s good to hear that producer Andy Harries is already speaking to alternative channels.  Let’s hope that one of these has the sense to take it on so we can have more.

If you agree and would like to see more Zen on the TV, please indicate your support by leaving a comment here.  Thank you.

42 thoughts on “Zen from Left Bank Pictures not recommissioned by the BBC

  1. bill kitson

    Appalling lack of judgement by BBC. This is the best new TV cop show for years (outside of USA) and they’re throwing it away – just like they did with 24.

  2. Ian Synge

    Absolutely astonished the BBC has canned this. It’s the sort of product that generates decent ratings, had ready resalability, and lends itself to DVD sales (while the format lives on).
    The only saving grace is that BBC doesn’t have the IP on it, which allows Left Bank to tout it around more widely – one can only hope that somewhere else sees the value in a slick stylish production like this.

  3. Cathy

    Sad that the BBC have dropped this. For us it was definitely a grower and we became hooked. Hope another channel picks it up.

  4. Norm

    What no more Caterina Murano :O(
    Nothing the BBC does will ever surprise me, but to can this series is a monumental blunder.

  5. Lady Jingly Jones

    How incredibly short sighted! I loved Zen. Hope some other channel has the vision that the BBC is apparently lacking.

  6. Shade Point

    This is a terrible shame. Stylish, intelligent, evocative handling of the source novels. Not to mention leaving a ‘what happens now’ hole the size of Rome. I hope someone else picks it up – it had actual class.

  7. Geraldine

    This is disappointing. I thought it was a good series that was ‘growing into itself’ at the end. I have never read the books but intend to and it would have been interesting to compare the storylines & characterisations with the tv series. I hope that another channel might decide it will fit their schedule. It was an attractive series in many ways – Rufus Sewell and the fabulous Roman locations.

  8. EwaSR

    I loved Zen! It should have been picked up again straight away – it was a really slick production and good solid entertainment. I was so disappointed when it finished! Definitely room for a lot more. Not in the least because it was all so damnably easy on the eye!

  9. Yvonne Johnston

    Such a pity – hope someone else buys it. Bit annoying for those of us who like something a different in BBC1 drama.
    And while I’m at it, bring back Mantalbano to BBC4!

  10. Mary Clarke

    A great shame. I wasn’t convinced by the first episode but I warmed to the characters and the style of the programme. I love TV Crime dramas but all too often they are too similar. This was something a bit different with class! Bad decision on the part of the Beeb. Let’s hope they snag series 2 and 3 of The Killing. To let that go would just add to the madness!

  11. PrairieGirl

    Very surprised and dismayed by this news. Zen is an amazing series and deserves many more episodes. And is was especially refreshing to see fav Rufus Sewell in such a great role and giving such great performances. Hope the channel-shopping is successful!

  12. Averill Buchanan

    It’s a sad day indeed when the Beeb turns its back on quality drama like Zen. As Bill (above) says, it shows an appalling lack of judgement on the part of the BBC. I wonder what kind of programmes they think we want to watch! Thankfully, though, there are plenty of other channels out there with the smarts to pick it up instead. It’s the BBC’s loss.

  13. Rod

    This was a class series full of moral ambiguity, good locations, fine acting and dry humour. It was clearly successful in bringing and keeping an audience, and I just assumed (ha!) that a further series would be commissioned. I hope Channel 4 is negotiating even now …

  14. Jan (laydilejur)

    There are just not enough quality detective dramas on tv at the moment – especially ones that have a fresh, new angle such as Zen.
    BRAVO to the BBC for commissioning this series in the first place (although it seems they didn’t finance the whole project anyway).
    SHAME on the BBC for not continuing with it, despite the successful viewing figures.
    See also many comments and a response from Left Bank here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2011/01/zen-adapting-michael-dibdins-i.shtml#comments

  15. Steve Ince

    I think this is a decision the BBC should look at again. While there were minor flaws in the series, it was still much better than many programmes not facing the axe.

  16. Raymond McCullough

    Must say I agree with all of the comments above. I really enjoyed Zen and watched the 3 episodes again on iPlayer. Will be buying the DVD, too. I really hope a channel with more vision pick it up so we can continue to follow the adventures of the self-effacing Zen!

  17. Teddy

    I shouldn’t be surprised by the lack of vision by the BBC but I am. Utterly disappointed but I sincerely hope another channel can see what a stylish and classy production this is. Fingers crossed that we see Zen back on our screens soon.

  18. jude l kerro

    i’m absolutely incensed that the bbc has axed ‘zen’ and hugely disappointed, but not really surprised. in truth, the surprise was the bbc showing such a high quality, excellent and entertaining series in the first place. i took to it immediately and loved it. there was a time when the bbc was an organisation that this country could be proud of and where one could see and expect high standards of broadcasting but that hasn’t been the case for a long time. the bbc certainly does not work on an agenda for quality. i have no expectations of ever seeing anything worth watching on bbc 1 or 2 and these days resent paying for a tv licence. ‘zen’ was the first and only programme for a very long time that made me feel it was worth it.

  19. elaine durkin

    shame on you BBC Zen was the best thing on the television. The contoller should lose his job over this. Wonderfull drama. Wonderfull acting. In all a truly wonderfull programe, whats the matter BBC cant you spot class when you see it.

  20. elaine durkin

    elaine getting more and more gutted as the news sinks in about zen, to be honest i am not going to watch any more bbc channels. The bbc are not taking into account the viewers wishes. One of the best acted and witty,beautifull dramas that has been shown for years and the bbc do not recommision another series. Well shame on you bbc. I hope it is snapped up by another channel and the bbc will have egg on its face.

  21. elaine durkin

    elaine. Well fellow Zen fans i have just phoned the complaints dept of bbc to complaine about the axeing of Zen . To my astonishment as soon as i started to make my complaint about the stopping of Zen they cut me off, and when i tried to redial several times the number is now no longer in use. Is any body else having the same trouble.

  22. alison ustun

    I’m absolutely gutted that the beeb have decided not to recommission Zen. I loved it. It was so different from the usual Sunday night fare. Please someone else pick it up!

  23. Marie Lyne

    I sincerely hope that if the BBC does not reconsider their decision about recommissioning further episodes of ZEN, another channel will see the wisdom of taking it on. I agree with all the comments posted here.I hope that we shall see more of this worthy programme.

  24. Ann

    What can the BBC be thinking of? They need their collective heads examined. The production was excellent, stylish and thoroughly well acted. The shots of Rome were beautiful, too. Another channel should jump at it! I also agree with an earlier post – let’s have more Montalbano. please!

  25. Andy

    I have left comments about the cancelling of Zen all over the internet. After a few weeks of knowing the truth, I still find myself slightly staggered as the sheer lunacy of cancelling the series. I loved it from the opening credits of the first episode and it just got better and better.
    You might think I’m easily pleased. Far from it. Generally, I don’t watch TV. The quality is usually too cheap, and lacking in both content and style. But Zen kept me in front of my TV. What should I say..? By hook or by crook I want more Zen, I suppose. But wait a moment, I’ve read the comments while I’ve posted my own elsewhere. It’s WE want more Zen. So, either do the decent thing BBC and get the poor, befuddled BBC1 controller’s head examined, or let’s have the assurance that we’ll see the series on commercial [dear le god, not SKY] TV, adverts and all. Much rather see it on the BBC though – for obvious reasons.

  26. winifred

    This is so hard to believe! The BBC is best for crime drama but this is so shortsighted.
    I’ve read some of the books and although the series is very different it is still a very good crime drama.
    Maybe they’ll think again, after all ITV did with Foyle’s War.

  27. norma

    Why oh Why have the BBC cancelled Zen?
    There are so many squalid little programs on the BBC, why can’t we have this stylish series as compensation for the usual drivel?

  28. niceguy1966

    I really hope someone does take up the option to make more Zen. If they keep the same production values, I’m a guarenteed viewer. I’m not expecting Zen to go on for years, like Morse, but another 6 (I’d settle for 3!) would be great.

  29. Rosemary Dorado

    To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I just couldn’t wait for a new series. It was somuch more intersting than the usual series we have. What is the matter with the BBC? They just don’t know when they have something good. I think it would have been a huge success for them.

  30. Robela

    I totally agree with all the comments made above. I loved Zen from the minute it came on the screen. A refreshing change from the usual stuff on t.v. It was excellent in every way, actors, locations, stylishly done, good stories. I am reading the books and there are plenty more good stories just waiting for the production team to turn into more thrilling episodes. Audiences love Aurelio Zen and Rufus Sewell is made to play him.
    I am thoroughly disappointed with the BBC and like someone else above have stopped watching this channel altogether. I hope other people will follow. To be honest there is not a lot of quality on the t.v. now at all and I find I am not missing the BBC. Thousands of viewers were eagerly awaiting the promised new series and we are all hoping against hope that some forward thinking channel will give us what we want.
    More Aurelio Zen Mysteries on the screen.

  31. cgaertner

    Am an American viewer just starting w/ “Zen” recently via public broadcasting. Let’s hope it is picked up by another channel/production company.

  32. Carol

    Just started watching the series in Canada on PBS Mystery. Husband and I are hooked. Really hope the series is picked up by another channel. Love Rufus Sewell in the role.

  33. Pingback: Zen from Left Bank Pictures Impresses in North America « It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

  34. Rosemary F

    ZEN in the STATES !

    I have to say that the PBS Masterpiece Mystery ZEN series is absolutely the BEST new Masterpiece series in quite some time. The characters, the actors, the setting, the complexity of plot all contribute to an extremely entertaining show. The ZEN series MUST continue. It will have to come back. KUDOS to all involved with the series and hats off to PBS for bringing it to us. Rufus Sewell has found his character and it is Aurelio Zen (thanks to Michael Dibdin).

    To those that make continuation decisions … please reconsider & renew the ZEN series.

    1. crimeficreader Post author

      Rosemary, thanks for finding this post and leaving a comment. It’s good to see that Zen went down so well in the US and Canada too. The decision not to recommission was not popular in the UK.

  35. Greg

    Zen is screening now in Australia. Clever, stylish and well acted. Another tiny oasis in a desert clogged with csi and cooking shows has been torched by some halfwit. Well done, I’m sure your balance sheet is now healthier … give the man a bonus.

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