The Guardian has revealed that the BBC has ditched a drama about a fictional siege in a London secondary school for which open auditions were held back in July.
Siege, a four-part BBC1 drama commissioned earlier this year, has now been dropped, the BBC confirmed, because of apparent creative difficulties with the scripts. The drama was being made by independent producer Big Talk.
Dead Set director Yann Demange had been working on the series, but told Broadcast magazine last week: “Siege is a great project at a fantastic production company. I am no longer attached to the project myself.”
After he left the project, the BBC parachuted another director to take on the project, but the “inherent problems” were not resolved, the insider said.
"After much consideration the BBC and Big Talk have mutually agreed that Siege will not be taken any further. It was a hugely ambitious event piece and unfortunately as can sometimes happen not all the ingredients came together despite the brilliant work of all involved," the BBC said.
The BBC added that the decision was taken before the appointment of new controller Danny Cohen. Siege was approved by BBC1's former controller, Jay Hunt, and Ben Stephenson, controller of drama commissioning.
A BBC insider said that the decision was taken "as early as possible" in the drama's pre-production stages in order to avoid incurring additional costs. "In the current climate we have to make brave decisions like this," the source added.
The BBC said scrapping Siege will lead to further commissions from the same department, which is led by the head of drama, England, independents Polly Hill. The department today confirmed a three-part drama from Tony Marchant.
Siege's fictional plot involved the government dealing with kidnappers who are holding 100 civilians hostage and demanding the release of a notorious war criminal from a British jail.
The scripts had been written by Kate Brook from an idea by Simon Curtis, whose executive producer credits include the acclaimed BBC2 drama Five Days. Like Five Days, which had a second series in 2009, the original plan was to play Siege out over consecutive nights.