Ken Loach criticises British TV's reliance on 'fake nostalgia' of period drama

'It's a choice broadcasters make. Don't bother your heads with what's going on now.'

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The Independent Culture

Ken Loach has long established himself as a leading creative voice in the UK's socially conscious cinema scene, with his latest, Palme d'Or-winning I, Daniel Blake tackling the social welfare system. 

In an interview with the Radio Times, Loach criticised television's reliance on period drama as, "this rosy vision of the past, it's a choice broadcasters make. Don't bother your heads with what's going on now, just wallow in fake nostalgia. It's bad history, bad drama. It puts your brain to sleep."

Aside from reality TV, many of the most popular shows on British television are indeed period dramas; between the likes of Downton Abbey, Victoria, Poldark, Call the Midwife, and War and Peace - it's a genre that's become something of a UK speciality. 

However, Loach argued that these programmes were, "the opposite of what a good broadcaster should do, which is stimulate and invigorate... TV drama is like the picture on the Quality Street tin, but with less quality and nothing of the street."

Furthermore, he sees it as imperative that broadcasters "diversify" to produce more regionally-controlled content; adding, "Now the drama is produced by outside production companies and horribly micro-managed. The directors I know in television say it's a nightmare. That's true for all the broadcasters, but the BBC is a rotten place for a director."

I, Daniel Blake focuses on a middle-aged widower in northern England struggling to work or claim government benefits following a crippling heart attack. Written by frequent collaborator Paul Laverty (The Angels' Share, Jimmy's Hall), the award-winner stars Dave Johns as the titular Daniel, alongside Hayley Squires and Dylan McKiernan.

The film hits UK cinemas 21 October.