22 February 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
The Lowe Down - Andrew Lowe talks Ripper Street
14 Nov 2014 : Paul Byrne
Brought back from the dead by Amazon, Ripper Street’s third series debuts tonight. Here, producer Andrew Lowe talks to IFTN's Paul Byrne about the rescue, the reasons, and the road ahead...

With the likes of Netflix and Amazon now becoming producers too, is there a sense of ripping up the rule book and starting again? Or are they just same old studios with new platforms?

There is definitely a sense of the rules being re-written, if not quite ripped up! Netflix has popularised binge watching with House Of Cards; the idea that you make all your shows available at the same time is counter intuitive, as conventional wisdom would say you are simply cannabalising your own market, but what is interesting about House Of Cards, it is also finding a life on traditional platforms such as free TV and DVD, despite the fact that it is available ‘for free’ on Netflix. What is great about Amazon Prime for a show like Ripper Street is, by making Seasons 1 and 2 available before the launch of Season 3, it is enabling a new audience discover the show at a time and place that suits them and existing fans revisit their favourite episodes from those previous seasons.

How surprised were you when Amazon came to Ripper Street's rescue?

Really delighted naturally. Credit goes mainly to our partners at Tiger Aspect and Lookout Point - where Simon Vaughan in particular is very innovative about putting new funding models together for TV drama - for pulling off something of a coup. It is unprecedented in the UK to have a terrestrial broadcaster - in this case the BBC - cede the premiere window to an on-line platform - Amazon Prime - but that is what happened in our case.

Has it changed the way the series is being put together?

Not really. The budgets are a bit tighter this year, but luckily we have a gifted creative team and crew who were able to come up with practical solutions to that problem.

Naturally, the regular cast were somewhat safe; what about the regular crew? Many have remained from Series 1 and 2, right?

Yes, many have, which we are really delighted about. As you know, there were a few months where it really looked like the show was gone, so it was great to secure that employment for at least another year.

What changes to production will the likes of Netflix and Amazon bring? Netflix unleashed Arrested Development all in go, something that TV would never even consider...

I think the changes are more in distribution than production at the moment. One thing we hope to see more of is longer-term commitments from digital platforms, so the opportunity to shoot 8, 10, 13, maybe 20 episodes in one block.

Will the growth of the HBO-pioneered long-form TV series coupled with the arrival of online production create whole new formats in the future, or are audiences traditionalists at heart? The weekly suspense of a long-running thriller works best teased out week-by-week, right...?

One of the great advantages the digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime have over traditional terrestrial broadcasters is the amount and quality of data that they capture from their customers. I look forward to a future where that data will be made available to the creative community to help shape the development and production of TV shows in the future, which is surely bright!

Any innovative ideas up your own sleeve?

Nothing we can talk about for now.

Finally, anything else you want to share with the group?

Watch Ripper Street 3 on Amazon Prime - or, eventually, the BBC - and spread the word, as we want to bring it back to Ireland for years to come.

The third season of Ripper Street hits Amazon Prime Friday Nov 14th 2014.

Read IFTN's interview with Ripper Street producer Lucy Dyke here

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