Distant Shores (British TV series)

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Distant Shores
Created byCaleb Ranson
StarringPeter Davison
Samantha Bond
Tristan Gemmill
Emma Fildes
Justin McDonald
Matthew Thomas-Davies
Gareth Thomas
Opening themeNick Bicat
ComposerNick Bicat
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series2
No. of episodes12
Executive producersCarolyn Reynolds (series 1)
Kieran Roberts (series 2)
ProducerSue Pritchard
Production locationsmainly Craster, Northumberland[1][2]
Camera setupsingle camera
Running time~ 46:30
Production companiesGranada Television Ltd.
(Granada Manchester)
Original networkITV
Picture format16:9
Original releaseWednesday 5 January –
9 February 2005
Series 2 un-aired in the UK, but was aired elsewhere in the world

Distant Shores is a comedy-drama first shown in the United Kingdom on ITV in January 2005. Like the similar fish out of water dramedies, Northern Exposure and Doc Martin, it focuses on the difficulties of an unwillingly-transplanted metropolitan doctor who is forced to adjust to a rural environment.


Peter Davison plays a successful London plastic surgeon Bill Shore. In a bid to save their marriage, his wife Lisa, played by Samantha Bond, accepts a six-month veterinary research job on a small Northumbrian island called Hildasay.[3] Bill reluctantly agrees to relocate on the island with his wife, daughter and son. The stories revolve around the various ways in which the family adjust to the island and its welcoming, but sometimes peculiar, inhabitants. The dominant themes of series 1 are Bill's attempts to leave the island, and the tragedy which befalls Lisa as she gradually pursues an adulterous relationship with one of its inhabitants. This overarching storyline is essentially reversed in series 2, with Lisa wanting to return to London and Bill considering starting an affair on Hildasay.

Broadcast history[edit]

The first series was broadcast in 2005 on ITV. According to one of the show's recurring co-stars, Yvette Rowland, it was "immensely popular", and brought in a viewership of over 6 million.[1] Canadian press releases put the number slightly lower at 5.2 million, but still called the programme "a major hit for Britain's ITV".[4]

Actual ratings data shows both these numbers to be correct, if incomplete. The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board reported that the debut episode of the series was the 20th most popular programme in the United Kingdom for the week ending 9 January 2005, with 7.53 million initial viewers. It was one of only three non-soap operas in the top 20 that week.[5] From this high-water mark, however, the show's audience declined, hovering between 5.2 and 6.2 million viewers. Despite this slip, it usually won its 9 pm time slot. In the last two weeks of the run, however, BBC1 won the time slot due to special programming.[6][7][8][9][10]

A second series was filmed for the next television season, copyrighted 2006.[11] However, it was not aired in the United Kingdom,[12] resulting in the original run of the programme being only six weeks. Rowland has described ITV's failure to broadcast the second series as "a mystery".[1] Davison himself agreed with Rowland's diagnosis in April 2007 when he expressed puzzlement over the shelving of the show, adding, "There's a fair chance it will never be shown in Britain."[13]

Nevertheless, the second series aired outside the UK. In Australia it debuted on Seven Network it was aired on Hallmark Channel in 2009 and repeated again in 2011 on 7TWO.[14][15] In Canada, it premiered on VisionTV,[16][17] while in the United States, it was initially syndicated to PBS stations for a two-year period from December 2006 to December 2008.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

During its initial run, two media reporters for The Guardian concluded much the same thing about the series: that it was "genial" or "very comforting" viewing, but that it was an obvious twin of shows like Doc Martin and Ballykissangel.[19][20] The Times agreed, calling the show "an even cosier version of Two Thousand Acres of Sky and Doc Martin" which was "undemanding, predictable and pleasant".[21] Indeed, the similarities to Doc Martin were obvious enough to have crept into pre-launch publicity. Peter Davison responded to the charges in a personality piece in The Journal of Newcastle by saying, "It's only like Doc Martin on paper ... Distant Shores has a completely different tone and feel to it."[22]


  1. ^ a b c Rowland, Yvette. "Distant Shores". self. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  2. ^ "Craster – A Visitor's Guide". northumberland-coast.co.uk. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  3. ^ Not to be confused with the real-life Scottish Hildasay.
  4. ^ "Prisoner of paradise". 1 August 2005. Retrieved 22 October 2009.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Ratings – Who's reaping rewards of Freeview sales uplift?". Broadcast Now. broadcastnow.co.uk. 27 January 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  6. ^ Plunkett, John (13 January 2005). "Houswives favourite for C4". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  7. ^ Brook, Stephen (20 January 2005). "BBC1's FA Cup drama brings in over 8m". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  8. ^ Deans, Jason (27 January 2005). "Football gives Sky a second leg up". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  9. ^ Deans, Jason (3 February 2005). "Good night's sleep for BBC1". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  10. ^ Deans, Jason (10 February 2005). "Football bore draw pulls in nearly 8m". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  11. ^ Caleb Ranson (writer); Sue Pritchard (producer); Philip John (director). "(untitled on screen)". Distant Shores. Series 2. Episode 1. 46:30 minutes in.
  12. ^ Ford, Coreena (30 August 2009). "Tracy Beaker heads North to film at La Gesse". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  13. ^ Methven, Nicola; Polly Hudson (27 April 2007). "Down the Drain". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  14. ^ "Australian Hallmark Channel series page". Retrieved 22 October 2009.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Distant Shores – The Shore Family Profiles". Australia. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  16. ^ "VisionTV Fall Highlights 2005–2006". Retrieved 22 October 2009.[dead link]
  17. ^ "A Shore thing". VisionTV. 1 March 2006. Retrieved 22 October 2009.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Distant Shores (Series II)". American Public Television. Summer 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  19. ^ Novakovich, Mary (5 January 2005). "Pick of the day". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  20. ^ Smith, Rupert (6 January 2005). "Rearranged marriages". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  21. ^ "Viewing guide". The Times. 5 January 2005. Retrieved 24 October 2009.
  22. ^ Marlow, Wil (3 January 2005). "Doctor on Distant Shores". The Journal. Newcastle upon Tyne. Retrieved 23 October 2009.

External links[edit]