Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach

ITV’s commissioners are either geniuses are fools. You may have heard about ITV1’s new drama double – Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach. The first is a behind-the-scenes look at the new ITV1 sitcom Echo Beach and the second is, er, that soap opera Echo Beach.

Moving Wallpaper describes the artificial, ego-driven world of the soap opera and makes fun of the network and politically correct TV. My favourite line from the opening episode is them discussing the need for ethnic characters “…we’re fine with blacks but a bit low on Asians. We’ve only got Dev in Coronation Street”. Soon fixed with an Asian barmaid. Moving Wallpaper is a comedy-drama about the horrible world of telly and the rubbish soap opera their making for ITV1.

Echo Beach is that soap. It’s a Hollyoaks-type affair set in Cornwall with lots of sexy teens and two warring families, one led by Jason Donavon the other Martine McCutcheon. It’s fluffy and silly and not that different from any other soap opera. It’s also well made, shot well and has a good soundtrack.

Before watching it online just now, my thoughts were the idea was clever and different, but I wasn’t sure how they would tackle what’s surely the main problem – one show slags off the other. If you’re in on the joke with Moving Walllpaper then surely you wouldn’t be able to watch the soap Echo Beach? However, I think they’ve managed to strike gold and have created the starting point for a proper new soap opera for ITV1.

You can understand why ITV would want a Hollyoaks-esque soap opera as it would generate young demographics, is cheap to make, and would produce lots of episodes. It could also be something they could anchor to ITV2 for added benefit. However, launching a soap opera is really hard. Whatever you do is going to be regarded as a load of old crap. It would be pilloried by the press and ITV would be accused of dumbing down.

Well ITV have managed to get around this by up front admitting to all of soap’s problems and acknowledging them all in the post modernity of Moving Wallpaper. This has let them get away with launching a teen soap with the reverse to what’s expected, positive press.

Both shows are due to run for an initial 12 episodes, but it would be interesting to see if they both come back for a longer run later in the year… or will just Echo Beach….