New ‘Cheaters’ comes in 10-minute-long editions

Tuesday:Cheaters; (BBC One, 9.50pm)

Zack, Fola, Esther and Josh
Zack, Fola, Esther and Josh

You may think that the TV world is simple and straightforward, but it can often be a complicated and confusing place to be.

Take BBC Studios, for instance. Although owned by the corporation, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, it’s described as a commercial subsidiary capable of taking an idea seamlessly from thought to screen.

To help it be a viable firm in its own right, it makes programmes for other broadcasters around the world.

In the past, it has happily taken on projects for other companies, or produced shows brought to it by individuals, but for the first time, is branching out into creating its own productions, without knowing where they’ll end up. Luckily, in the case of Cheaters, BBC One was only too willing to step in and snap it up.

“This is the first time that we have fully commissioned a drama without a broadcaster already on board, which marks an exciting moment for us at BBC Studios,” claimed Mark Linsey, BBC Studios’ chief creative officer, when Cheaters was first announced back in 2020.

The series is also a little different in another way – rather than having 30 minute or hour-long episodes, it’s comprised of 10-minute-long blink-and-you’ll-miss-them editions.

“We’ve seen an increase in the demand for super-premium content in a bite-sized format and Cheaters is a bold comedy drama that will engage audiences in this new way,” adds Linsey. “It’s young, it’s fresh and comes from (production company) Clerkenwell who have a well-established knack for creating punchy and eye-catching content that audiences just love.”

“Cheaters is the first of several series we’re developing in this format,” reveals Murray Ferguson, Clerkenwell Films’ chief executive. “It’s clear from the success of (the company’s previous hit) The End of the F***ing World that there is a huge appetite globally for new and innovative content that is high quality yet easy to consume and prepared to break with convention both in format and narrative content. Oliver Lyttelton’s scripts and characters are brilliantly surprising and addictive. It’s such a pleasure working with him.”

Lyttelton is equally gushing: “I’m thrilled to be working with Clerkenwell Films and BBC Studios on Cheaters. Stories about infidelity are as old as time, but I think we’ve found one that takes on the big thorny questions of guilt, sex, morality and monogamy in a way that’s surprising, funny, painful, messy and relatable.”

If you missed last week’s opening episodes, they introduced us to Fola and Josh, who are thrown together when their flight from Finland back to the UK is cancelled at the last minute. After a regrettable, drunken night in an airport hotel, they row, ignore each other and vow to go their separate ways, back to their loved ones – Fola’s husband Zack and Josh’s girlfriend Esther.

However, as he arrives home on the bus, he spots her getting out of a taxi across the street – it seems they’re neighbours whose blissfully ignorant other halves would like them all to become friends…

Joshua McGuire, Susan Wokoma, Jack Fox and Callie Cooke take the lead roles.

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