The Big Bonus Theory: Why big pay rises spell trouble for your favourite TV series

 

The ink is just drying on the many zeros of their new pay deals, and an eighth series is soon to start filming, so The Big Bang Theory cast must be feeling pretty smug right now.

Lead cast members Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard) and Kaley Cuoco (Penny) take home around $1m (£600,000) each and have become the highest paid performers in TV, replacing Ashton Kutcher - a comparative pauper, who makes only $750,000 per episode of Two and a Half Men. The news is less good for the show’s estimated 58.1million viewers worldwide, however. Big cast pay rises can spell big trouble for the future of a TV show.

The highest paid stars in the US tend to hail from sitcoms, but in the UK it’s TV presenters who make the big bucks. But do Eamonn Holmes (estimated salary: £2.8m a year in 2012) and Jeremy Clarkson (£14m for 2012) run the risk of jeopardising the qualities that made them so successful in the first place? “I think all these announcements about high salaries alienate viewers,” mused former face of TV-am Nick Owen earlier this year. “Here's someone on a million pounds - you will enjoy them! Who can relate to a presenter like that?”

It’s not only the viewers feeling envious, it’s the other cast members too. Actors are often paid according to their perceived contribution to a show’s success, but this can change over time. Brat Pack heartthrob, Rob Lowe discovered as much when his West Wing co-stars Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg), Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler) and Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman) all got a pay rise and he didn’t. His cited this as a key reason for deciding to leaving the show in 2003.

If the Big Bang cast want to avoid such bad feeling, they could learn from tactics employed by a similar ensemble series. Friends really were friends, it seems. Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer initially earned the most, but they took a pay cut between the second and third seasons, enabling all six cast-members to bargain collectively. They also all entered the “supporting actor” categories in awards season and even insisted on appearing as a sixsome in magazine photo shoots. This ‘all for one and one for all’ strategy paid off. By series nine and ten, all six had joined the cast of Seinfeld in the Million Dollar Club - and that’s per episode, not per annum.

Could any performer in any show, however good, possibly deserve that kind of money? In the universe where Amy Childs from The Only Way is Essex makes 137 times the salary of a social worker, that’s the one question nobody’s asking - not even the people paying the wages. With Big Bang selling advertising airtime selling at $326,260 for 30 seconds, Warner Bros’ profits have hardly been dented.

Not game for a trip to Wales, Paddy?

Those bitter cynics who believe game shows might not be the best place to meet ‘the one’ have been silenced by Take Me Out’s first wedding. Former contestants Adele Vellacott and Dave Cobain tied the knot at Cwrt Bleddyn Hotel in Monmouthshire on Sunday and plan to honeymoon on the beautiful isle of Fernandos (otherwise known as Tenerife). It’s a good start for the show’s producers who must hope to compete with Blind Date’s record of three weddings over a 17-year run. Cilla Black attended each and every one, of course, but sadly Take Me Out presenter Paddy McGuinness won’t be able to say the same. According to the new Mrs Cobain “He joked about being invited to the wedding but we didn't think he'd want to come all the way to Wales.” No invite-y, no like-y.

CATCH UP

Gomorrah, Sky Go

If you love a good mafia movie, but tire of Godfather cliches, Sky Atlantic’s new Italian import should currently be topping your hit list. It’s based on Roberto Saviano’s non-fiction book about the camorra, an organised crime syndicate operating out Naples’ crumbling tower blocks. The setting is jaw-dropping, but for once its gritty realism, not glamour which draws you in.

http://www.sky.com/tv/show/gomorrah/episodes

Horrible Histories: Frightful First World War, BBC iPlayer

Along with Brothers in Arms, the ITV documentary which also aired this week, this Horrible Histories special is the best of the First World War Centenary programming. Sketches include ‘Historical Masterchef’, in which soldier Ernie treats the judges to a trench speciality dish, Dog ‘n’ Maggot. This is as funny as you’d expect it to be, but surprisingly touching too.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cbbc/episode/

The Great British Bake Off, BBC iPlayer

I wouldn’t want to over-egg the pudding (that can lead to the dreaded soggy-bottom), but this year’s baker’s dozen might just be the best batch yet. Early favourites include Stormin’ Norman, whose banter is almost a match for Mel and Sue and 17-year-old baking prodigy Martha. Just how does she know so much about Genoese sponge, when she hasn’t even sat her A-levels yet?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Secrets from the Clink, ITV 9pm

After eleven series, Who Do You Think You Are? can still rustle up a few surprises. In this much grimmer spin-off, the likes of Johnny Vegas, Mariella Frostrup and Len Goodman already know who they are: the descendants of 19th century criminals. It’s an interesting human angle on the Victorian prison system and Johnny Vegas gets one real shock: he discovers he’s related to a southerner.

https://www.itv.com/itvplayer

News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'