Jimmy McGovern, creator of the BBC1 drama The Street, which has just won two International Emmys, hit out at American "cultural imperialism" yesterday, saying that winning a Bafta was more important to him than the US award.
The Street was named best drama series at the 35th International Emmy awards ceremony in New York on Monday night, and Jim Broadbent shared the best actor award for his role in the drama. Britain swept the board at the ceremony, winning seven awards. The International Emmys recognise excellence in television programming outside the US.
But the veteran Liverpudlian scriptwriter, whose work includes Cracker and Brookside, remained unmoved by the accolade. "I'd sooner win a Bafta," he said. "It's nice to win, but I've got a wee bit sick of American cultural imperialism. Should we really give a damn about what they think about our culture?"
He added: "I hate what they have done to the world. I was in New York at the outbreak of this war in Iraq. I know that more than half of New York was opposed to this stupid, futile war, so I'm not condemning all Americans, but any award is tinged with that regret. The US foreign policy takes the shine off any award."
While the International Emmys are held in New York, the judges are drawn from the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, an organisation of more than 500 members from nearly 70 countries.
Each episode of The Street tells the story behind the front door of a different house in a street of terraced houses in Manchester. Its star-studded cast includes Broadbent, Jane Horrocks, Sue Johnston and Timothy Spall. The series, which won the Bafta and Royal Television Society awards for best drama this year, has performed well for the BBC, pulling in more than five million viewers to its 9pm slot and regularly beating ITV drama, which McGovern memorably described as "crap".
The Street is made by ITV's Granada for BBC1, and is shot on location in Salford and at studios in Manchester. The series was inspired by US drama of the 1950s and 1960s, including Wagon Train, in which each episode focused on a different wagon heading out west across America and Naked City, an early cop drama which focused on a different denizen of New York each week.
Prospective writers were invited to submit storylines for The Street. After selecting the successful scripts McGovern sat down with the writers and meticulously drafted and redrafted each episode. Plots in the first series included a bored wife, played by Horrocks, who begins an affair with her neighbour.