17 January 2013 5:52 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

It's a recurrent problem for television drama that duration is dictated by factors other than content. There is simply no room for a two-hour Lewis

The documents on the desks of TV commissioners often resemble a child's multiplication primer, with pages covered in lists of sums such as 6 x 15, 1 x 30, 3 x 45 and so on. These calculations – in which the smaller number refers to the number of episodes and the larger one to the length of the timeslot – reflect a crucial aspect of television fiction. Novelists can broadly decide how long their stories will take to tell; screenwriters generally begin with an artificial target.

In this respect, Detective Inspector Robert Lewis, once half of a celebrated TV double-act with Dci Endeavour Morse, has himself recently been halved. The latest series of the former sidekick's solo show, Lewis (Mondays, ITV, 9pm), has seen each storyline reduced from slots of 1 x 120 to 2 x »

- Mark Lawson

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