To my knowledge, and I'm by no means an expert, this method has been used only once in the UK and we have famously ended up with a dreary never-ending poor-quality sitcom that should have been stopped several years ago.
I think there's also the TV licence factor - everybody who owns a TV pays it (or is supposed to, the system is far from perfect as any uni student in halls of residence will tell you!) so a big chunk of funding comes from that, but because everybody pays it the BBC (and, I suppose, everyone else - the license is/was a BBC thing but effectively their thinking is, you either have one or you must be watching TV illegally) is really meant to try to divide their income from that to cover lots of different programme types.
So, for instance, it is a wiser move to make one six-episode costume drama, one soap and one six-episode factual series (i.e. Coast) and one six-episode comedy series than to just say they'll make one eighteen-episode comedy, because they're sort of obliged to cater for everyone. (Especially given that the license isn't popular with everyone.)
Or at least, that's my take on it.
Sweden has the same licence as the UK. Technically you are not allowed to own a TV withour paying it every third month. Our equivalent of BBC is called SVT. But we also have an equivalent for Channel Four: TV4. And I've never thought about this before, but our TV shows also tend to have fewer episodes per year than many American shows.
*With so few episodes being produced over such lengthy periods of time, how to Brit TV stations fill their programing schedules? Do they just air a whole lot of re-runs? Or, is it that while they produce relatively few episodes of a single show, they have a wider variety of shows than average, so that no one has time to miss their favorites? Or, do the stations fill in the gaps with international programing?
I ask these questions because knowing how US TV typically works (new episodes of one's fav show, every single week, except for some seasonal breaks), it boggles my mind how the Brit stations can get by on so few episodes, because it seems that the programing would get redundant and boring very fast.
You really canÂ´t compare a UK 6 episode Â´seriesÂ´ to a 20 plus USA Â´seasonÂ´. These UK sitcoms are more like a 6 week mini-series. They are not stretched out over an entire TV season (for instance from September to May) like a US sitcom is. Instead, they are shown for six weeks in a row and after that the time slot will be take up by completely different program for another six week run. This would usually be another sitcom, but not necessarily.
Usually, about six months or a year later, a six episode season of any given series is repeated before they announce that a new series of the same show will be broadcast later that year (or the start of the next year). This is why there is often a gap of at least a year, sometimes a year and a half between each season. Look at the release dates of Absolutely Fabulous, the first series was broadcast in 1992, but the second did not appear until 1994.
So to sum up, when one series ends it is followed by a different TV show or the repeat showing of another series, but usually not by reruns of the same TV show.
Of course not every series has 6 episode seasons. Sometimes itÂs between eight, and thirteen. Thirteen weeks is about half a TV season, meaning you can fit two series of thirteen episodes between September and May. In the case of 6 episode sitcoms, you can fit in four different shows in one television season whereas in the US they would only broadcast one show in this timeslot.
The war time sit-com ÂAllo, ÂAllo! actually did a 26 episode season once in a bid to sell it to US broadcasters. They went back to doing much shorter seasons a year later.