By Nadeem Badshah
A POLICE drama focusing on brutal murder investigations has become a hit in the UK after becoming one of the few TV shows in the world to film episodes during lockdown.
Crime Patrol has become one of the most popular programmes among the south Asian channels since coronavirus laws were enforced in March, figures show.
The long-running series set in India, which has featured diverse storylines related to Covid-19, was the second most popular show on Sony TV Asia after gameshow Kaun Banega Crorepati in early October with some 25,500 viewers.
In mid-September it was the second most watched programme among the Asian channels with 81,000 viewers, beaten only by drama Mere Dad Ki Dulhan, according to figures reported by the BizAsia website.
In August, Crime Patrol was the most popular offering on Sony TV with an audience of 51,000 and in the previous month it received its biggest ever audience in Britain of 144,300.
Rajinder Dudrah, professor of cultural studies and creative industries at Birmingham City University, told Eastern Eye: “It mixes a number of genres – police crime drama, human interest stories, current affairs; it’s got melodrama and elements of soaps which are a staple of the south Asian channels. It’s adult late night viewing, not necessarily family viewing, but under lockdown conditions with parental supervision teenagers can watch. It has a finite conclusion, justice is served.
“People have heard stories of people in India undergoing crime, if they are lucky, years down the line they may get justice.
“But here in a one-hour programme, the police get involved and people get justice, the show is aspirational and fantastical while being dark and morbid; hope is out there.”
Several soaps, reality TV shows and films were forced to halt shooting around the world due to the pandemic. But Crime Patrol has continued to release new episodes for fans, sometimes spanning two or three 60-minute parts.
Among the coronavirus storylines include police catching a rapist by broadcasting that the victim falsely had Covid-19 so he would come forward to be tested. On-screen officers wearing a face mask also scolded suspects for not wearing a face covering or failing to socially distance.
Professor Dudrah added: “It is where TV becomes instructive and educational. Some episodes before the virus took a moral position, saying this is wrong in terms of dowry and abduction. Now in terms of the virus, it is showing viewers to play their part for the betterment of society.”
The programme, which has shown more than 1,200 episodes since debuting in 2003, was also a ratings hit in the UK in March, April and June.
It has led to a lockdown ratings battle with Star Plus, which has a similar real-life crime show Savdhaan India, and Colors TV, which broadcasts the latest series of reality programme Bigg Boss hosted by Salman Khan.
Harmander Singh, a social policy analyst in London, told Eastern Eye: “Because cinemas are closing, people are looking at different things to watch. We watch a whole range of them, it beats reality TV.
“The justice system in all civilised countries are fine; it’s the people running them who bugger it up.
“[Crime Patrol] is just showing the successes of people getting convicted, it’s about how you present it. On the flip side, they could be showing people how to not get caught but also how investigations can be successful.”
Sara Ali, 30, watches Crime Patrol episodes with her husband and sister.
The mum, from London, said: “I believe Crime Patrol has become popular during lockdown because the show has resumed filming, there are always new episodes on TV.
“It reflects the current situation as all actors are wearing face masks and following social distancing guidance.
“There is less to watch now and many channels seem to be filling screen time with old programmes and episodes. Crime Patrol re-enacts real life crimes for entertainment purposes and creates awareness in people about crimes that have and could take place.
“It is an addictive show full of suspense and the episodes are pretty lengthy, so lockdown gives people time to watch the show.”
Dr Savi Arora is a TV presenter inthe UK. On the programme’s health messages about Covid-19, he said: “Referring to history and communicating real personal stories is one way to support a positive outcome for all. Optimism in an air of reality supports any argument about not taking Covid seriously,” he added.